Monday, 8 September 2008

little pup

Dogs in Bosnia have a different life to one in the UK. There are an enormous number of strays which people often leave food and water out for. These strays have a difficult life and most are young dogs or puppies. Many of them are absolutely lovely dogs. D has a theory that only the nice ones survive as people wouldn't tolerate an aggressive stray for long. The dogs roam all over the place, often on the roads and are often hit by cars.

We were in a car on Sunday which accidentally hit a young stray puppy. I'd seen the puppy earlier, it had bounced over to come and see how we were doing. Probably some form of Alsatian cross she was around 8 weeks and so friendly. I'd entertained a very brief flirtation with the idea of taking her back home and allowing her to become our 'outside' dog, but it was only very brief - with young children who are used to abusing a golden retriever, I would have to be very sure of the temperament of a dog before taking one on.

We weren't driving and those who were didn't stop to see if the dog was ok. As we drove off all I could hear were the howls of pain and through the back window I could see that she had obviously broken a leg.

This image haunted me all night, and we drove back today to see how she was doing. She had crawled under a bench and was in pain. I took her home, gave her a drink, fed her and took her to the vets to be put down. Fortunately the vet confirmed that there was very little he could do for her - I was dreading having to make a decision about whether to give her treatment or not. We took her away and buried her in a friend's field in a beautiful spot overlooking a valley.

Adam had quite got into the puppy and I wasn't ready to talk to Adam about death. He kept asking about 'the little dog' and couldn't quite understand why she had been buried or why the vet couldn't make her better. We didn't shy away from saying that she had died, but he could only really comprehend it in terms of going to sleep for ever - never waking up. Even then he is convinced that we can come back next week and she'll be ready to play. How people ever explain it when it is something closer to them than a stray dog I have no idea.

Now, I know that in the greater scheme of things this is not a great tragedy. She would have gone under a car sooner rather than later and putting her down was the kindest thing that we could have done for her. That hasn't stopped me howling ever since.

1 comment:

Grande Poobah said...

sad story Em - altho I've no doubt you did the right thing.

it reminded me of the time that i was baby sitting for my then psychiatrist boss's 3 young children, and got completely ambushed by a question about death. rather than sidestepping it I waded straight in (using an unmodified "honesty is the best policy" approach) which I'm not sure my boss completely thanked me for as he was then left to pick up the pieces later.... ah well....