Monday, 16 April 2012

Not a particularly good day

I shot my own dog

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find - it's your own affair, -
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear
Rudyard Kipling

Well that’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

I have only just replied to a comment by Chris in which I said that Dinge, after looking as though he was improving last night, had taken a drastic turn for the worse this morning but that I would have to wait until Marcia got back from town so that she could take Alex and the two other dogs for a walk while I took Dinge down to the pond and let him relax a bit.

Then I heard Dinge whining desperately. He was in agony and was trying to crawl up to my door. From both ends he was leaking an evil smelling slough. I dug out the pistol, loaded it and told the workers to distract Alex by taking him down to the river. I then carried Dinge down to the pond and sat with him for a bit, stroking him and telling him what a good boy he was and what fun we would have had hunting together. I thanked him for his wonderful company and told him how Dominic, who had saved his life, really loved him. I reminded him of all the feral pigs he had flushed and how sorry I was that he never got laid. Then I shot him.

I sat with him for a while and smoked a few cigarettes, all the while stroking him. It took a long time for his eyes to glaze over. Apart from the small hole in his head, he just looked as though he was having a kip in the grass.

Alex came back and found me in my room with tears streaming down my face. ‘Are you hurt?’ He asked. ‘O Dinge Morreu’ I told him. ‘Vamos jogar Football?’ he replied. Yes son, I thought, let’s have a good kick around.

Alex may be refreshingly innocent but I haven’t a clue what I will say to the boy who rescued Dinge from the jaws of death. ‘Where’s my dog, Daddy?’ ‘I had to shoot him, Dominic’

Now that I have calmed down a bit, I suppose I had better wrap him in my shirt and bury him. Poor little bugger.

One of the labourers said, derisively, that he had never seen a man cry over the death of a dog so I decked him and gave him a good kicking, playing football with his head while he was down.

All the Angolans marvelled at how well trained and loyal my dogs are, or in Dinge’s case, were. How they follow me everywhere, even to the extent of chasing my truck all the way to the main road and then when I accelerated away on the smooth black top, waiting there until I came back. Instead of tying them up or beating them all the time I loved them and they reciprocated. The guy I beat up said he was going to the police, as if I could give a shit. I heard one of his mates remonstrate with him saying how could he be so stupid to say what he did, didn’t he know that for white people, dogs are pets (animais de estimacão), part of the family?

Anyway, I think I have calmed down now so if you will all excuse me, I have to bury Dominic's dog. By the pond I think. That’ll be a good place. I like to go there to watch the birds come in of an evening and Dinge liked to go there to chase them, the little bugger.

A post script a couple of hours later.

This was his favourite place...

Alex was pretty subdued...

And Three tried to dig Dinge up again.


  1. tom
    you know how I feel about my own dogs
    I want to buy you a pint, applaud you and give you a hug all at the same time.
    you have done what I could never do and you have my sympathy and respect
    take care my friend

  2. Tom, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.

    It is a sorry man and shaken who has loved a dog and had to put it down. We never know how we will ever live up to the love and devotion we experienced that they give, and it's a horrible burden to carry. And, we just miss them.

    But it is a poor man who has never loved a dog, in the real sense of the word.

    I'm sorry. We are thinking of you and your family.

  3. Thanks, Josh.

    John, forget the applause, just give me the beer and a hug in any order.

  4. Oh, Tom, i am so very sorry. I've been thinking of you all day, ever since i read that you knew what you were going to have to do. Yes, i'm white, and any animal that has lived with me has been a furfriend and part of my family.

    I've got a good bottle of Scotch i'm willing to share, and as many hugs as you need. Hankies, too.



  5. Thanks Megan. John Gray just sent me an email reminding me of Kipling's singularly appropriate poem about man giving his heart to a dog to tear so I have added one verse to the post.

    One day I will drag my arse out of Africa and meet you nice people.

  6. So sorry Hippo.

  7. Well, Tom, you don't exactly take the easy way out of daily drama, do you?

    One of my uncles, a hell raiser if ever there was one, put up the coveted by many outsiders family dog (a first class Alsatian - black, professionally trained) as his stake in a bet. He lost the bet. In those days bets were honoured. The dog died not that long after. Of heartbreak.


  8. Shit its a hard thing to do, isn't it! Feel for you mate, despite my apparent 'tough attitude' I know what's involved and it rips your guts out!

    I swear that Denny will be my last dog!

  9. John D,

    I really hope that you and Denny have many more years to enjoy together but if the worst happens, can you imagine life without a dog?

  10. I thought not.

    It was a bit of a bummer putting only two bowls of food out this evening instead of the usual three.

  11. I tried living without a dog. I made it three months and the last one I was climbing the walls, I don't know how my wife handled it.

  12. Unless they have had a good mate in a dog they won't get it. I have woken up in cold sweats after dreams of my own dogs future passing.

    That took some guts Tom and was an act of pure love.

    We went of holiday to Greece a couple of years back. It was awful as the amount of stray dogs and the local antipathy towards them really upset me. The craze at that time with the local kids was for those laser pointer things, the ones that blind folk. One night, at a local festival, the nearby starving stray dog population were wandering amongst the people who were gorging themselves on heaps of food, the dogs were looking for some scraps to eat (I, of course, was feeding them copious amounts). I caught this snotty kid shining a laser into this poor vunerable dogs eye 'for fun'. Whilst nobody was looking I gave the little bastard a f**king hiding he won't ever forget.

    Enough said.

  13. Sorry mate; nothing else to say really!

  14. Oh man. Heart breaking. But you had to do it...

  15. It was the right choice -- and it was the last truly kind thing you could do for him, to end his suffering. And, like all other pets that have gone before him, he'll always be in your heart, not in the ground where you left him.

  16. Tom

    You did the right thing, and while that's not always easy it usually beats the alternative.


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