A Walk To Remember

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The air is cold and crisp. The grass in the field is covered with frost tips. Geese flutter overhead and squawk their protest to our presents. The tips of my ears are cold to the touch. My Visions blurred has my eyes frequently well up with water. I take her for the last walk she’ll ever go on.

I don’t mind the cold it’s peaceful out here. We’re all alone. Today I have to euthanize a perfectly healthy dog who I adore. The hardest part of shelter work is knowing the terrible, inevitable, truth of having to take an animal you’ve cared for and have a deep bond with to the veterinarian for euthanasia because she’s not a candidate for adoption. Most of these dogs have health issues but every once in awhile is a dog with a behavioral issue which makes them unfit for adoption.

Just because I love her and she’s good with me doesn’t mean she’d be safe in our community. I have to keep telling myself this because otherwise it just hurts too goddamn much to deal with. If I could find that perfect home with one person willing to spend endless time with her and keep her out of harm’s way. She doesn’t like dogs. She doesn’t love all people but most of the people in the world and well, she’s a pitbull. Three-strikes-and-you’re-out my love.

Maybe it’d be different if you were a Labrador or a German Shepherd, people would’ve line up to save you and shelter you from trouble. But this is the world we live in right now and this is the community I have to protect. I knew coming into this job I couldn’t save them all but I would do my damndest to help the ones who needed the most work to be successful. We’ve all put in time, lots of love and a hell of a lot of effort. But my sweet dog friend, you have a switch I cannot turn off.

A life Behind Bars away from the great outdoors is not a life for any animal. I know what has to be done but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. There’s a big difference between knowing something is right and feeling like it is right.

So today I’ll be strong for you will go for the longest and coldest walk. We’ll go get a double fudge brownie. I will hold you and make sure you’re not scared. I will weep as I feel the life leave your body. I can only hope you feel remotely the same about me as I do about you so it gives you comfort to be with me in the end. The human-animal bond is strong. Every day these animals teach me more about humanity, myself and show me how to be grateful. I am better for having known you.

So this is our last walk and I certainly hope it is A Walk to Remember.

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