A final farewell

We put Bonnie down because she was suffering from intractable vomiting due to megaesophagus and pancreatitis. An xray showed that she also had a fused spinal column. Despite all this, we tried to treat her, and it worked initially, but she soon started vomiting again, and this time she couldn’t even keep her anti-nausea medicine down. A day later, Peggy and I started out on our daily walk, but only got a block before we agreed that it was time to toss in the towel. I called the vet’s office, and was told that we needed to get there fast because, it being Saturday, they closed at noon. As we drove, I wondered if we would make it on time, or if the new vet we were supposed to see would say that we should keep trying to treat her. Peggy asked if I wanted one of these things to happen, and I said no.

The new vet told us that Bonnie was doomed to die within 12-weeks, no matter what we did. Our original vet had failed to mention this, and it helped me considerably. Despite the hundreds of times I had wished she would die, I didn’t want her to die for my convenience or due to my negligence, and I had been blaming myself for stopping her first round of antibiotics too soon. I still don’t know why I did that, and it will always bother me. Dogs are ever a reminder that I am not so good a person as I should be.

I’ve yet to cry over Bonnie. Maybe the Cymbalta is in the way, or maybe it’s because I’m so relieved to have the stress behind me. I look at her grave, and am stricken that never for all eternity will I see her again, yet the tears won’t come. When she was young, she thought she was invincible. For example, she was lying on the car seat one day when a city bus pulled up beside us, and the sound so infuriated her that she tried to jump out the window and attack the bus (luckily, the window wasn’t open all the way). Her self-confidence was such that she almost had Peggy and me believing that she was the goddess she considered herself to be. Old age, arthritis, and blindness debased her, and she became as timid as she had been arrogant. The joy that had once filled her being died long before she did, and it was very, very hard to see it happen. I would watch her running into walls as she fled a cat that wasn’t even chasing her, and I would think, How low the mighty has fallen. How then am I supposed to grieve? What then am I supposed to grieve, the death of dog whose spirt died three years before she did? If I grieve anything, it’s not her death, but the three years before she died and my inability to be there for her in the way she deserved.

I think my cat is defective

Brewsky will sometimes stare right into my eyes for minutes on end. I’ll stare back for awhile, grateful for the attention, wondering what he’s thinking, and admiring his beauty, but will turn away in disgust when I realize that Im continuing to stare beyond the point of enjoying it because I think he should be the one to look away first. My attempt to out-macho a neutered housecat who doesn’t know he’s being out-machoed makes me think I might be neurotic, and I blame him for making me think I’m neurotic when he knows I’m not.

When I scold Brewsky, he bites Peggy if she’s home. If she’s not home, he waits for her to come home, and then he bites her. He doesn’t dare bite me so, the dog being dead, he turns to the only target left, the one that can’t chastise him without worrying about hurting his feelings.

Since Bonnie died (a week ago, almost to the minute), Brewsky has wanted a lot of attention. I don’t know why since he wasn’t close to Bonnie, who disliked all four-legged creatures, and whose blindness made her fearful of Brewsky because she was forever stumbling into him as he lay stretched-out in the middle of the floor, making it necessary for him to slap her face. Maybe he thinks we murdered her, and he’s turning into a suck-up so we won’t murder him.

I don’t know why he likes to watch me dance, but he’s really into it, and I always wonder, “What are you thinking that you watch me so studiously?” Maybe he’s wondering, “What are you thinking that you dance so peculiarly?”

Sometimes at night for no apparent reason, he starts yowling and racing through the house at full speed, sometimes running over the tops of the furniture. When he does that, I say, “If I had lived during the Bubonic Plague, I too might have thrown your kind on a bonfire because your behavior is mighty suspicious.”

Most of the time, he sits around looking like the deity of dignity, but as soon as he gets hungry, or imagines that a treat might be forthcoming, or thinks it’s high time for a meal; he becomes a beggar. I ask, “Where’s your pride, man?” but he just begs louder.

I thought cats were supposed to be dainty eaters, but Brewsky eats like a German Shepherd who’s afraid that someone might take his food away (not that he would fight for it if they did). It’s disgusting. He gets three squares a day, frequent treats, and a midnight snack, yet he wants more.

If I hide a treat, and he doesn’t know where it is, he will go right to it if I point. Maybe some dogs can learn to do that, but I haven’t had any luck teaching them. When this usually poker-faced creature who sleeps all day does something smart, I find myself wondering how smart he really is. I mean, what does he know that I don’t? Contemplating this gives me the willies, and I blame him for it.

Brewsky doesn’t just come when he’s called; he runs so hard that it sounds like a stampede. He can be asleep at the other end of the house, but as soon as I call him, he starts running. Give a cat some cheese or canned meat every time you say his name, and that’s what you get.

I thought cats were delicate creatures who hated a firm touch, but I’ve never massaged a dog more firmly than I massage this cat, and he loves it. The only trouble is that he only loves it when he’s on the floor, it being distasteful to him to be rubbed in any location that’s convenient for me.

Brewsky is my first 21st century pet (circa 2010), and this makes him seem newfangled on one level, yet he still looks and acts like cats that I knew in the 1950s, and this makes me wonder if the pound let him go for half price because he’s a beta version. Maybe the newer versions come with a remote.

The worst thing I ever did.

I’ve mentioned this before I’m wanting to go into it in more depth and detail. I used to be a part of a small-town Mississippi humane society that got the county’s permission to run the local dog pound. The original dogcatcher had killed dogs with carbon monoxide, but he took the box that he hooked his truck exhaust up to, so we had no way to deal with overpopulation but to shoot dogs. I was the only man in the group, and the women all said they were too “kind-hearted” to kill an animal (although I never knew any of them to be vegetarians). Because I was the kind of man who wanted to be strong--but didn't always feel that way--and take responsibility for a task that had to be done, I shot at least two truckloads of dogs before I quit the group and the dogcatcher returned. f I had done enough of that kind of thing, I would have come to thoroughly hate my own species, and the fact that the most religious part of this country treats its abandoned animals that way worst didn’t help my feelings about religion either.

The dog pound was an open-air affair without a shade tree for 100 feet. It consisted of a row of wire enclosures which were probably no more than 60-feet square. They each had a concrete floors and an attached house. Each kennel stayed fairly full of dogs that had no protection from the 94 to 106 humid degree days of summer and the 25 to 35 degree nights (rarely into the teens and single digits) of winter. I saw it as simply another example of Christian hypocrisy given that every politician in the county was an active churchgoer, nearly all of them Southern Baptist.

One at a time, I would lead the dogs that I was going to shoot a short distance from the kennel, and hold a nine-shot, Harrington and Richardson .22 revolver to the base of its skull and pull the trigger. The dog would instantly fall straight-down with smoke pouring from the hole in its head. It would convulse for a few seconds and then go limber, blood running from the back of its head and sometimes its mouth. Most dogs realized what awaited them and they would cry, tremble, and force me to either carry them or pull them to their deaths. It was the stuff of nightmares, but at least it ended quickly, for the dogs anyway. Before I gave in and started the killing, we had dogs that were either dying during the night and being cannibalized, or else killing one another during the night, and then cannibalizing the fallen. Since they were getting enough food, I suspect the latter. They had simply become so crowded that they were deranged. When I hear people talk about the horrors of watching a massacre, I think I understand it a little because I was the killer at such an event, and the creatures I killed were innocent of all wrong other than the original sin that their ancestors committed by building an alliance with such a treacherous species as my own.

I don’t anticipate that writing about this will help me feel any better about it, probably the opposite. I share it because I know it’s interesting in a sad and grisly kind of way, and I want to be interesting. I also think it’s important to share this story because every last one of us needs to accept our specie’s responsibility for being so abominably fucked-up in so many different ways. There’s really no excuse for us, and it won’t do to say that any of us are innocent of any of it because our moral and ethical failures are species’ wide. In the movie Unforgiven, a young man kills someone and tries to console himself by saying, “He deserved it.” Clint Eastwood’s character tells him, “We all do, kid,” and I see it the same way.

I don't want to come back and edit this, so you can count it as one of the more spontaneous things you will ever see here..