In the end, Destructo lived up to his name.
Every day, he tried to get into the trash to find something to satisfy his insatiable hunger. He tore up the basement carpeting. He chased the cats. He pulled the blankets from Squints’ bed to cover himself. He tore holes in clothing. He destroyed the acorn tree I’d grown from seed.But we forgave him. He was just a pup, after all.
And I say lived here, because this morning, Destructo was killed. Correction: my husband and I had him killed. Put to sleep. Put down.
* * *
“Something’s wrong with Destructo, Mom!” Squints yelled yesterday afternoon.I ran into the other room.
“What’s happening, Mom?”Destructo was having a seizure. A rough seizure.
I sent Squints upstairs and sat with Destructo, our other dog Toby keeping vigil at my side. Finally, it ended. Squints came down bringing me a handful of rags to clean up the mess. While Destructo lay there, panting, Toby approached, gently licking and sniffing. Destructo growled at him.
I reached out my hand to reassure him. He got to his feet and snarled at me. He began barking. The hair on his neck stood up.“Go upstairs, Squints,” I whispered.
He ran (a mistake, I know). I followed. Close at my heels was Toby. We shut ourselves into my bedroom. Destructo ran around the first floor; barking angrily nonstop. I thought about the stove turned on; I thought about calling a neighbor to help; I thought how strange it was that we were hiding from our dog.
I called my husband; told him the dog had had a seizure; told him not to try to get into the house until the dog calmed down. I opened the door, called downstairs; tried to get the dog to come to his senses. He bounded up the stairs and stood there, barking and snarling on the other side of the bedroom door.
* * *
Some people, I’m sure, will question our decision. It was made too hastily, they will say; without considering all of our options. But no one was there, except Squints and me. Nobody else saw how our dog behaved. Nobody else saw the terror on my child’s face. Nobody else wondered what may have happened had Squints been alone.This morning, I woke to sniffling from Squint’s room. This was the day. We headed downstairs to say our goodbyes. “Be good,” Squints told him, posing him to take a final picture. “Be a good boy,” he told him; and that lilt he gave his voice belied the truth: his eyes were red-rimmed; tears streamed down his cheeks. Squints told him, “I love you.” He told him, “I promise, it won’t hurt.” And as my husband led Destructo out the door, Squints told him, “I’ll see you soon.”
And, for me, perhaps that is the biggest hurt of all—knowing we’ve deliberately hurt our child in order to protect him; knowing we’ve torn apart the greatest love a boy can have: the love between a boy and his dog.When my husband got back from taking Destructo in, we reminisced over coffee and hot chocolate.
“Who will lick my face in the morning?” Squints asked.“Who will get into the trash?”
“Who will jump into my bed?”
“Who will drop the little green ball at my feet?” “Who will step upon my toes?”
“Who will chase the cats?” “Mom,” Squints said, taking a sip of his hot chocolate. “I’ll bet he’s in heaven right now eating cheeseburgers and looking down on us.”
It’s way too early to think about seeds, but today, I planted: hickory seeds and walnut seeds and, yes, I even planted a few acorns. And when they sprout and begin to grow, I’ll remember Destructo. And if Destructo is indeed looking down upon us and eating cheeseburgers, I hope that he forgives us.
Labels: Dogs, Raising Children, Sons