Apr 14, 2007

His Name Is Radar

Last Friday on my way out of the animal hospital, a small, frightened pit bull was making his way in. Huge patches of fur were either hanging off of him or missing completely, and deep cuts ran across his throat and chest. All four legs were spotted with pink open sores, some the size of quarters, and his right front leg appeared dislocated, horribly swollen, or both. A vet technician spoke lovingly to him as she coaxed him through the door. She told me that the dog had been born and bred to fight. Apparently he'd lost this bout and was dumped on the street to die.

All weekend, he drifted in and out of my thoughts; like many of the dogs I work with, he appeared in my dreams. When he was well enough to travel, I knew he would wind up here at ACC, and on Monday when I came in, there he was, gazing at me from his makeshift bed in his kennel. Woozy from pain medication, he looked nearly as roughed up as he had two days ago. Still, I was overjoyed to see him. As I crouched in next to him, he moved slowly and deliberately closer to me. I stayed there stroking him a long time, avoiding his wounds and his injured leg. He nuzzled into me so intensely, a bit of his patchy fur remained stuck to my sweatshirt when I finally pulled away.

On Tuesday, he seemed better. Or maybe I just wanted him to seem better. When I went in to sit, his appetite instantaneously returned and he began eating the kibble he'd thus far left untouched. I told him I knew he was a gentle dog, and I promised he'd never be made to fight again. On Wednesday his tail wagged as I approached his kennel. Limping, he walked the few steps to greet me. I worried to see him struggling out of his bed, but I was thrilled he felt strong enough to attempt it. On Friday he licked peanut butter off of my fingers and seemed to smile, the way dogs do, as I cooed and pet him.

Today, Saturday, it rained, and the shelter felt gray and cold in those morning hours. As usual, we snuggled for a long long time, he and on his bed and me sitting beside him, so close I felt each breath come in and out. I worried about his injured leg, but each time I'd shift to give him space, he moved closer to me, his brown eyes sorrowful, yet somehow brimmed with hope. "You're so beautiful," I told him. "You didn't deserve this."

I got the phone call a few hours later; a decision had been made. A scared dog, wary of humans, he'd be euthanized within the hour. Because the sadness stung so acutely, I tried to focus on the indignation: born to be abused, made to fight, sentenced to a life of pain and cruelty. I had wanted so badly for this dog to be the exception, to somehow prove that a week of tenderness could erase the fear. That he could know, finally, a happier life. The sense of injustice is overwhelming. I can't find any meaning in it, and writing about it doesn't help.

But at least I can keep my promise. He'll never fight again.


Anonymous said...

That just brought tears to my eyes. How people can be so cruel i will never understand. How i wish he could have a loving home to make up for all his hardships, but at least he'll never be in pain again.

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Unknown said...

If they started "euthanizing" the dog fighters, we'd have to euthanize less dogs - sounds like a fair trade to me.

Anonymous said...

I like Crissa's idea. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ditto for Crissa's idea.
As I get older I prefer pets to people. Gee, I wonder why.
C.A. (Dolores Park area)

Anonymous said...

What Crissa said!

This was absolutely heartwrenching.

Anonymous said...

While it feels victorious to fantasize about euthanizing people who torture dogs especially pit bulls to fight, (and I think euthanasia would be too painless a death for them), the reality that HITS me is how each dog's story that's been tortured to fight CRIES OUT for MORE REHAB SERVICES to save dogs like this one "evaluated" as a euthanasia case. Why save these dogs? Because after a brief moment of tender compassion in their injured and painful state they STILL EXTEND THAT GENE THAT THEY'VE BEEN BRED FOR: to be docile, affectionate and submissive to a human no matter how badly they are injured. They deserve LIFE. Instead, IN SPITE OF THAT PHENOMENAL HUMAN BONDING a human kills them, never to fight again. Their death, no matter how painless, is not a justification or a solution. This situation, which has gone on for hundreds of years in the most "humane" city in the United States, should be a screaming alert that human kind has not yet evolved to become human or kind enough to end the torture and then disposal of these completely helpless living souls. MAY DOG BE WITH US. (see maydogbewithus@earthlink.net)