Posts Tagged ‘euthanasia’


Christmas Puppy. Photograph by Helena Lopes 

Happy New Year. As I write this, Little Bear is snoozing next to me on the sofa under a blanket and Annie is lounged in her bed; newly revitalised with memory foam to help her joints. People say our dogs are spoilt. I disagree. They are loved, but they are also respected. 

What does it mean to respect our dogs? I’ve heard two stories in the last couple of days that have made me ponder this exact question.

I love my dog, so long as it doesn’t act….like a dog 

The first was about an old man we used to see in the neighbourhood walking his Jack Russell. As our two are reactive, we only knew them to wave to, but our friend got to know them well. She asked me a few months ago if I’d seen them. I hadn’t and yesterday I found out why.

Through another friend, I discovered that the little dog, let’s call him ‘Bob’, was put down after snapping at the man’s grandchild who woke him up while he was sleeping in his basket.

To someone like me, who sees animals as I do people, (a soul is a soul no matter what the container), this is akin to murdering a human.

To be killed for exhibiting your natural behaviour when startled is an abomination. That’s like putting me down for swearing in the car when someone cuts me up on the motorway.

Failed by humans

The real crime here wasn’t ‘Bob’s’, it was the failure of his human to protect both child and dog from their own instincts. Few humans read a dogs body language well, so it’s insane to expect that of kids – or to expect them to stay away from dogs just because they’ve been told to. As adults, we need to manage the situation to keep them both safe.

Better safe than sorry 

Little Bear spent the best part of three days in the dog room last weekend while our granddaughters visited. He barks incessantly at kids and while I’m confident he’d never bite, I wouldn’t dream of putting my precious granddaughters or him on the Roulette wheel.

He had plenty of walks, free time to roam the house while we were out, plus he got his beloved sofa and humans back when the girls went to bed, but heart-breaking as it was hearing him howl, it was the safest thing to do.  

Respect dogs for who and what they are

To expect a dog not to act like a dog, well, that’s like asking a child not to act like a child. Dogs often do things we wish they wouldn’t, like hunt squirrels, roll in fox poo or lunge at other dogs, but they are dogs, doing what dogs do and when we take them into our homes and our lives, we need to understand and respect that.

Our job is to train them, control the environment to minimise unwanted behaviours and ultimately, keep them safe. And keeping them safe does not mean killing them when we get it wrong!

New Year (Doggie) Declutter? 

The second story was from the lovely rescue organisation, Friends of the Animals Wales, who, just three days into the new year, are full to capacity with surrendered dogs. They’re literally having to turn dogs away for want of space and foster families.

My mind reels even thinking about it. Are these older dogs shoved out to make room for Christmas puppies or are they just part of the new year clear out? How long I wonder before the Christmas puppies follow them to the rescue? Or did these older dogs growl or snap amid the stress of Christmas celebrations or exhibit some other doggie behaviour that wasn’t acceptable? My heart is breaking just thinking about how those little souls must feel to be turfed out and abandoned.

The bottom line is that, if you can’t respect a dog for who and what he/she is, then please, just don’t get one.

If you’re based in the UK and could offer a foster place to a dog in need, please apply via Friends of the Animals Wales. 




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Apache the horse


I’ve given up on the news.  I can’t bear to hear one more report about the horse meat scandal because nobody is apparently bothered by the real issue here. Horses, as close to man as any dog or cat are being routinely dragged into abattoirs and slaughtered on an industrial level.

Horses who once won rosettes at the Pony Club, had their manes platted by adoring teenage girls and whose welfare was once important enough to their owners to earn them pain relief in their feed are destined for a terrifying end that no creature deserves, let alone ones so intelligent and faithful.

Horse power 

Like many young girls, I dreamed of having a horse, but finances and circumstances meant that I was 28 before I learned to ride. My life changed practically overnight when I found someone needing a sharer. Apache was a 14.2 tri-coloured Welsh Cob with a heart of gold and a will of steel; one she frequently demonstrated when I wanted to stop and she felt like going the distance or vice versa. I was never a great rider, but I just loved being around her. I even loved mucking out and to this day can’t pass a yard without inhaling great gleeful lung fulls of ‘eau de stable’ such is its ability to transport me back to happy times.

We had some great years together before she finally retired to live out her golden years at a nice yard with a warm soft bed, thick rugs for her arthritic joints and all the care and attention befitting a lady of advancing years.

A peaceful goodbye

In March 2011 I got a call from her owner to say she was having another bad bout of colic and that the vet had done all he could. She was in great pain and it was only going to get worse.  I blogged about it at the time, (Can animals heal a broken heart?) reflecting on the amazing reaction of Little Bear and Annie when I returned home from the Yard that awful day.

Apache passed peacefully in a field full of spring grass with the sun on her back.  She was given pain relief for the colic, sedated and then euthanised while the people who adored her whispered their love and prayers in her chocolate-brown ears.  It was quiet, calm and dignified and she showed no sign of fear or stress.

I still feel like a traitor for my complicity in her death, but in my heart I knew it was time and so I think did she. The alternative would have seen her writhe in agony as her gut twisted and so, as the lesser of the evils I, like her owner opted for the kinder path.

If death can ever be ‘good’ then I’d like to think that hers was at least in the right ball park.  Her peaceful passing was a world away from the fate of so many millions of horses that are slaughtered on an industrial scale, many after enduring long terrifying journeys to abattoirs and the thought sickens me to me core.

That these incredible creatures should ever find themselves in a slaughters hands is the real scandal and for all our righteous indignation about ‘mis-labelling’ we need to remember who’s paying the real price here.

P.S As I was finishing this post I came across this excellent blog – it’s says a lot about how we’ve ended up in this mess.

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