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Memory of euthanasia

I have been present at four euthanasia deaths of animals. The first was a chihuahua puppy.

I was living in Los Angeles with the future father of my daughters, Roy. We lived in a part of East Los Angeles known as El Sereno. The name is ironic, considering that at the time it was also known as "the murder capital of LA" because of the gang violence. Roy and I had no problems with anyone where we lived, and in fact it was a warm and welcoming neighborhood to us. I believe the teen Hispanics were the ones in danger.

Roy is from "the other side of the tracks". He grew up in a world, near the border of California and Mexico, where you had to hit first to avoid being hit. He played dangerous games with his pals and he took to drink early. He sometimes said to me that I was "too good to live", meaning that I saw the world differently, I tended to trust people first rather than believe they were all out to get me. Yet he was the one who trusted more in another sense.

I never would have taken a puppy from a litter born to a dog who had never been to the vet, in a family that took dogs as they came, a dog who somehow just got pregnant. But Roy did. He paid for a chihuahua mix puppy and brought it home. I never said I was looking for a dog and if I had I would never have chosen that strange rat-like breed. I really disliked what I had seen of chihuahuas.

This one was not the usual chihuahua, though. He was chubbier and seemed to grow bigger. He also did not learn easily. I bought a book on training and I tried to train him to go outside but had absolutely no success. I suspect the little guy was taken from his mother too soon, and I suspected that at the time too. When they leave too soon you have to wait until they are ready for training. In any case, I had a hard time with him. He seemed to be unable to learn.

That didn't mean he was unable to love and it didn't mean I was unable to love him. I soon loved him deeply, for all his deficiencies. I took him to the vet soon after we got him and got all his shots. At the time he seemed in reasonably good health physically. The mental part was a bit of a question mark. Nevertheless, I soon became very attached.

When he was not much over three months old I noticed that something was wrong with his leg. It seemed to be broken. I thought maybe he had gotten into something and broken it. I brought him to the vet.

The vet examined him and said no, not broken. He had distemper. I said how could that be? He got the shots. The vet said it was well advanced but that his mother's milk had protected him from showing it until now. He had been born with it. He was in a late stage of distemper and there was no cure. I don't think there is now, either. The vet gave me a prescription for pain pills because it's a painful disease and said we will have to think of euthanasia.

I was devastated. I brought the puppy home and gave him pain pills as needed. He would cry in pain and I would know. One night not long after that he was sleeping with me - I do not know where Roy was at the time but he wasn't at the house - and he whined in pain. I gave him a pill. Not long after he cried again and I gave him another. All night I was shoving pills into this poor little thing, hoping they would take away the pain but it didn't happen. It was one of the worst nights of my life.

The next morning I bundled him in a blanket and brought him to the vet. I held him while he was euthanized. I won't ever forget it. He was just a little puppy.

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