A Thousand Tears

I had to euthanize Norman today, which feels something like betraying a good friend. I’d come to love Norman, and I respected him. Norman had his ideas about what he liked and what he didn’t like, and there was no changing his mind about strangers. I think “fierce” Norman made several passersby figure out how fast they could run in the other direction. “Sweet” Norman knew to look for my car, so I’d find him waiting for me at the gate, swishing his bushy tail. We shared training time, play time and quiet time, and in those moments Norman connected with me, and I with him. Over the six weeks I worked with him, Norman responded to training so quickly and efficiently, I thought he was brilliant. Norman could be charming, too. He’d take a toy in his mouth, throw it in the air and then look over at me and almost wink. Over time, I came to realize, Norman’s difficulty with people and other dogs was not a training issue. I saw a dog fighting with himself – a wish to love people, and a wish to defend against people. A wish to love other dogs — a wish to drive them away. The depth of Norman’s problems, the management conundrum, and the fact that Norman used his teeth to solve problems of every sort – made the perfect storm for a dog we can’t help. I fed him fried chicken and roast beef, and sent him to the great beyond. I cried a long time, so hard I couldn’t see, put his collar in my pocket all the while wishing I could never face this again. I’ll never forget this beautiful dog, and I’ll always be sorry there are some dogs we get too late. A thousand tears for Norman seems about right, for his life mattered to me, and our shelter.