Jimmy died in my hands tonight. Literally. His head gently rested in my left palm as I stroked his peaceful, fading face. I shut his eyes after I felt his body tense for a few moments- tail raised and shivered, muscles twitched, face clenched- and then I watched as his rib bones elevated and retracted three more times… and then it was silent. No sound. No breath… nothing but the hum of an impersonal fluorescent hue illuminating a sad and tear-filled moment. I want to believe he was comforted by my presence and the knowledge that he was loved, with human efforts trying to match his canine ones to live.
But in the end, it ended.
Jimmy was poisoned with a toxic pesticide called gramoxone, from what our VSPCA veterinarian tells me. The insides begin to shut down, blood becomes thick thereby making it extremely difficult to breathe due to a lack of circulating oxygen, appetite is lost, and energy is gone. What typically happens is that meat is soaked in the substance, tossed to dogs, and so begins the pain and descent. Why? Who? This blog is not about that, but rather a tribute to Jimmy, and all other animals out there that have suffered, are suffering in this moment, and who unfortunately will be the victim of the inhumane and cruel way to die.
Jimmy was a kind dog. Described by his companion as, “gentle, non-aggressive, healthy, caring and well loved.” Jimmy will forever be a motivation for me, for VSPCA, and for animal advocates who have followed his story, to STOP THE CRUELTY.
This was one of the most intense experiences I have had. A wave of emotions- sadness, pity, anger, frustration, reflection, grief, motivation, and depletion- flooded me, and continues to do so. Jimmy, we thought, was going to pull through. But isn’t that what we always think… “This one is special.” Or, “This time it’ll be different… the miracle case.” Not so.
I sit writing this, with three healthy, warm, and loving foster puppies at my feet. As I look down at them sleeping, their bellies full, snuggled and dreaming with one another, I can’t help but think about Jimmy as a puppy. I didn’t know him, but it breaks my heart that a life was ended too soon. A sweet and tender life. This brings me sadness, but a deep sense of hope as well, that with more education, empathy, and love towards our fellow animals we can peacefully cohabitate and respect the life of others- human or not.
Jimmy’s sky blue collar was removed after his passing and now rests at the end of my table; his hair still noticeable and dirt from happier and healthier days reminds me that life is precious and to be valued.
I’ve never cradled a dying being before. This memory will be with me forever, but I hope it is joined by memories of successful rescues, the elimination of abuse towards non-human animals, and a kinder world for all inhabitants.
You are missed and will forever be with me.