My cat saying goodbye to a good friend…
When I was much younger I remember finding my dad in the backyard watching a squirrel that had apparently taken a bad fall out of a tree — its back legs were paralyzed and the poor guy was slowly dragging itself around by its front claws.
My father asked me to help him stuff the animal into a plastic shopping bag, but instead of putting the creature out its misery, made me carry it up the street and set it loose in a nearby park so it would have, as he said, “a fighting chance”.
I carried the bloody bag past staring neighbours to the park and, once there, gently lowered the bag into a heavily wooded spot. I took a few steps back and watched… The squirrel first made a loud “don’t fuck with me” kind of noise, then dragged itself out of the bag and further into the woods, never to be seen by me again.
I thought this whole exercise was a complete waste of time. There was no way that this thing was going to survive. The humane thing to do would have been to kill it.
Years later, I’m still dealing with regret after euthanizing my cat this past Monday night. I found the story of another cat’s death on the web; that owner’s lingering memory is the lack of a defining moment of passing. As for me, I’ll gladly take that over the image of a confused animal bolting upright as a lethal dosage of barbiturates enters its bloodstream.
So am I ashamed that my father, a former Chief of Surgery at St. Mike’s Hospital, couldn’t end an animal’s suffering himself? Hell, no. In fact, I’m glad it runs in the family.
2 responses to “Mercy”
While helping a friend move once, we discovered a small black squirrel that couldn’t move its back legs. While my friend kept a curious cat at bay, I managed to call animal control and reported the problem. The squirrel was fairly tame (tired out?) and let us approach it enough to coax it into a spare box so we wouldn’t have to chase the persistent cat. Eventually, the city truck arrived, the attendant carefully put the squirrel into a cage. She told us they’d have to euthanize it because of the injuries, and we went back to hauling my friend’s stuff into his new apartment. I doubt this squirrel was the one you freed, but it’s not easy to see an animal suffer just the same.
One thing our pets do is remind us of our mortality, but I like to think they remind us of our humanity, too.
Yeah, too bad that kind of stuff often only comes out in us when something’s dying…