When Pets Die
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…”
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.