Pets: To Give Away Or Put To Sleep?
It's just a hypothetical question - but which would it be if you had to make a choice where the pet you love is concerned?
The other day, a friend brought someone over. One look at our young, active, crazy pup and she got all teary eyed. Apparently the year before, she suddenly got a posting out of the country and there was nothing she could do except leave her dog with an aunt - an aunt with a huge house, a huge garden - you'd have thought a dog would be ecstatic there. Try taking an apartment dog, used to being pampered, sleeping with his mistress in her bed, getting spoiled by the maids - to a farmhouse where he has to sleep outside, exposed to the elements, unloved, uncared for. He didn't survive one year - he ran out of the gate one day, got hit by a speeding car - and that was it.
There was a close friend who had to give his dog away. His little baby was allergic to fur and the doctor said the dog just had to go. He was lucky because his older daughter's friend who loved dogs took him in. They never went to see the dog for a whole year, giving him time to adjust to his new home. When they did think it had been long enough and went over, the dog saw them and cried like a baby. I don't think they will ever get over that!
That was when it hit me...what if it were me? What if I were in that position? Would I leave my pampered pet behind? If I did, would I have one good night's sleep, wondering how he was, what he was doing, whether he was happy, cared for, loved? I realized that none of the usual reasons people trotted out to get rid of a pet applied to me. I would probably find a hundred different reasons why I could never, ever leave him behind.
Then followed the unbidden thought - in case there was an emergency and there was no other alternative, would I rather put him to sleep? Theoretically, there were so many advantages - I would know for sure he was not being ill treated. I broached the thought at breakfast one morning. My logical businessman husband does not waste his time pondering over ‘What ifs' so he smiled and went back to reading the morning paper. My daughter pounced on me. ‘You can't be serious! You can't just snuff out his life when he's young and active. Old and ill, OK....maybe there's a case for that. But a young dog - Mum, what's gotten into you?" And our dog got an extra special hug from her, like I was some kind of a Dog Exterminating Monster.
Somehow, it's something that has been coming back to haunt me. What would I do? Right now, I can't really see a situation arising when it will be necessary. But if I were faced with a choice, what would I do? Would I be strong enough to be cruel in order to be kind? Or would I just leave him wherever to manage the best he can? And suffer as long as I lived, wondering if he was all right or not. Such a difficult decision - and one I pray I will never have to take.