When Pets Die

One year ago my family said goodbye to our black Lab, Roxy, in the prime of her life. I made the painful decision to euthanize her.

For several weeks last winter the cover of Jon Katz’s book Going Home, Finding Peace When Pets Die, flashed in front me on the library new-book shelf. The front cover showed a man and a dog silhouetted on the beach. I was sure it was about saying goodbye to old dogs. Finally I opened the book and began to read the introduction, the first section of which ends with these words: Orson gave me so much, and I repaid him by ending his life. He was troubled, damaged, and I spent years trying to fix him, to no avail. I talked to my vet and we agreed that he should be euthanized. There was nothing left to try, no more money to spend. It was an agonizing decision…p. xii

Rox was a Labrador Retriever and Orson was a border collie, apart from that difference, their stories were remarkably similar. Katz wrote:  “…a breeder in Texas told me she was seeking a home for a border collie who had failed to make it as a show dog. He was intense but intelligent, she said. He was beautiful. He had issues…”

I bought Rox from a breeder of field dogs in northern New England. She was intense and intelligent and beautiful.

Orson and Rox bit people and threatened to bite others. Change the names and the details in this paragraph about Katz’s dog, and you have my dog Roxy’s story:  “When Orson, a dog to whom I owed and continue to owe so much, bit a child and drew blood from his arm and then bit a young gardener in the neck, a boundary was crossed. His contract with the world was broken in a way that could not be repaired…”

Katz, a journalist and farmer, wrote this book as a humane perspective on the death of animals. It is an unsentimental book of wisdom earned by living close to other creatures of the earth.

One thought on “When Pets Die

  1. Jeff, this is beautiful. I still think of you and Roxy. I am so glad to know that you found this book. It was calling out from the shelves in the library, not to be overlooked, because it had something important to tell you. Kim


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