April 4, 2013

Euthanizing a guide dog to bury it in the coffin with its blind owner.

You can have animals you own euthanized if you want, but when should you want it? According to the dead woman's son, the dog, Toffee, "wandered aimlessly" after the woman died.
"I wouldn't say that's unusual for a dog to be in mourning, especially if a dog is really close to a person," said [the veterinary assistant].
The perception that the dog is "in mourning" is subjective, and the subjective perception is arrived at by the family that has the power to do what it would probably only do if it conceived of the matter as putting the dog out of its misery.

71 comments:

Lem said...

No ethical alarm bells are going off in my ears.

That doesn't mean I'm blind... I'm just going to wait for somebody to point to something I'm failing to see... or something.

Nonapod said...

That's pretty cruel and unnecessary. Some pet owners anthropomorphize far too much. Dog's aren't like humans. They live much more in the moment than we do and can bounce back from a loss very quickly. That dog could have lived many more good years bringing happiness to another person or family or as a guide dog to someone.

Chef Mojo said...

That's some pretty sick shit. I thought this sort of crap went out with the ancient Egyptians.

Nichevo said...

I don't think I would put down the dog down myself, but Ann, this just shows you up for the heartless insensitive troglodyte bitch that you are. Dogs mourning their owners goes back to Homer's Odyssey. But I guess you don't read. Why would you? You have tenure.

Lem said...

At first I had a mental picture of a dog burring a bone in a coffin... and wondering what possible gratification could be derived from doing that... but then I was saved by the rest of the sentence.

Ipso Fatso said...

Could the dog have been helpful to someone else who was blind? How old was the dog? (I didn't read the story). If the dog was ill that is one thing and why didn't a family member take the dog and keep it? Animals mourn just like people do, but to put the dog down for that reason only is remarkably selfish and cruel IMO.

Chef Mojo said...

Dogs mourning their owners goes back to Homer's Odyssey.

Yeah. So does exposing babies.

Jeez.

Sorun said...

It's not clear to me in the story who trained the dog, but they have every right to be upset. It was very selfish of this woman.

If the dog was older and not likely to be placed with another person, I think it would be ok.

phx said...

Not only my dog, my wife, children and servants.

Ann Althouse said...

"Dogs mourning their owners goes back to Homer's Odyssey."

Have we ever heard a report of dogs in mourning that did not come from a human characterizing a subjective perception?

Why would the number or venerability of these observations change their subjectivity?

By the way, Homer was blind.

"I don't think I would put down the dog down myself, but Ann, this just shows you up for the heartless insensitive troglodyte bitch that you are."

By contrast, you seem to be a lovely person.

By the way, you should avoid "bitch" as the go-to insult when the subject is dogs. Presumably, I'm a bitch for intimating that the people served their own interests ridding themselves of the dog, and if so, I step up and proudly own the epithet "bitch" -- as I stand with the dog on this one.

Toffee was not a bitch, but a male dog.

Nichevo said...

Chef, I was not advocating to kill the dog. I don't advocate killing the dog. The Greeks wouldn't have killed the dog. I'm just annoyed that Althouse makes like she never heard of such a thing.

No, classically speaking, the dog is supposed to pine away. Just like apparently it was doing in this case. I don't see the need to rush nature's course. That's assuming of course that the dog had no other purpose in life, could not have been placed, in service or not, with another family, which, it seems, obviously could have happened.

It does sound to me just like the Chinese emperors or the Egyptian pharaohs embalming servants and armies along with them, and obviously I find it barbaric. Also absurd to imagine this was the wish of the former owner! However, again, I'm tired of Ann and her soulless, fanatical kneejerk opposition to any expression of unapproved sentiments like anthropomorphism.

Paddy O said...

"Have we ever heard a report of dogs in mourning that did not come from a human..."

Yes, but unfortunately we only understand humans, so those are the reports that we use.

edutcher said...

Hate to say it, but Mojo had the same idea about the Egyptians, although I think it was kept alive by the Vikings.

Certainly suttee.

/ducks.

Ann Althouse said...

Dogs mourning their owners goes back to Homer's Odyssey.

Have we ever heard a report of dogs in mourning that did not come from a human characterizing a subjective perception?


No, some dogs are very devoted.

Depends on the dog. Depends on the master.

Or mistress.

Ipso Fatso said...

"Have we ever heard a report of dogs in mourning that did not come from a human characterizing a subjective perception?"

I lived in the Bahamas as a kid. I killed a song bird with a pipe and buried it in my back yard. Its partner sat on a branch above the grave for 2 days afterward and sang. My neighbor never let me forget what I did. She was right. Animals mourn.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Well, count me horrified. "S/he wouldn't want to live once her owner was gone" is 100% human bullshit.

I think it's quite possible that dogs mourn. Spouses mourn, too, but we don't kill them when their partners die, so that we can get them into the same coffin.

If I die before my cats, I hope no one has the bright idea of killing them so that they can be buried with me.

Lem said...

Ok then, I'll stand over the dog.

Mitchell the Bat said...

We purchased two kittens from a breeder.

He told us they'll cry and to keep them locked in a room until they forget their mother, which should take about two days, and then they'll be fine.

I was tremendously offended.

He was right.

TMink said...

Reminds me of a car ride with a friend, his nutty wife, and their daughter. It was at night and the mother kept reassuring the toddler that she did not have to be afraid in the dark.

The child was cooing and looking around and in no way distressed. I made the mistake of telling the mother!

She divorced him and took half his savings 6 months later.

Trey

Sorun said...

"If I die before my cats, I hope no one has the bright idea of killing them so that they can be buried with me."

The other thing to consider is the likelihood the cats end up in a shelter for a few weeks before being put down anyway.

Lots of dogs and cats end up in shelters when the sick or dead owner's relatives won't take the animals in.

Petunia said...

Oh, this case made me so angry. That was not "euthanizing", it was killing, plain and simple. Toffee was only five years old and should have had many happy years of life ahead of him, whether he was a family pet or a service dog for someone else.

What an incredibly selfish request by that woman, and what an idiot her son is for following through with it. And displaying the dog's body in the coffin is just appallingly tasteless.

As a veterinarian I have the right and the ability to euthanize an animal. I also have the right to refuse to do it. It's a very serious responsibility and one I do not take lightly.

I have just diagnosed one of my own cats with a rapidly-fatal disease. I am hoping he will die in his sleep, but it's far more likely that I will have to euthanize him. Even though I know I will be sparing him suffering by euthanizing him, it will still be a very hard thing to do when the time comes. I would never, EVER kill a healthy animal just because the owner wanted me to.

Convenience killing like this woman wanted goes against every tenet of veterinary medicine. The vet who did it should be ashamed of herself.

If that woman and Toffee are together in the afterlife, I hope Toffee bites her.

Paddy O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broomhandle said...

They killed him because they didn't want to take care of him, period. Sleazy shit-heads.

Ben Morris said...

Dogs "mourn" you about as long as it takes for them to learn who their new food-giver is.

If this dog was "depressed," it was probably because it didn't have anybody to help.

Sorun said...

"Have we ever heard a report of dogs in mourning that did not come from a human characterizing a subjective perception?"

If we're ever capable of significant communication with another species, I'm sure we'll learn more about their emotions. Until then, assuming they share the same emotions we do, especially since that's what our observations are (and we all have common ancestors), is a good bet.

Bob Boyd said...

They should've ground her up and fed her to the dog.
And when she came out the dog's back end they would have realized she hadn't changed all that much.

Nichevo said...

Ann,

1. You may insist on trivializing the bond between dog and man, as you trivialize everything that you do not comprehend, but that only reflects on you.

2. What can it possibly matter that Homer was blind? That may just be the stupidest thing you have ever said.

3. You are a rotten person and you are proud to be a rotten person and this blog is your years long shouting boast of your own malignance. There isn't a nice bone in your body. You are a mean old broad and I'm sure you were mean when you were young.

4. Re: bitch, I will throw back in your face your standard reply, when others object to your writing: you're not clever enough to understand my many shades of meaning, so try harder. Again, what of the dog's sex?

5. Speaking of understanding, it literally never occurred to me that the people were selfish in putting the dog down because they wanted to be rid of it. Surely the humane disposal or retirement of service animals is arranged or can be arranged?

If selfishness is at the root of it, I would put that down to an egocentrism that says that the dog preferred to die rather than to live without, and should be interred with, the deceased; but if you are implying that the dog was inconvenient and this was their excuse to kill it so that they didn't have to feed or walk it, well, that's a gobsmacker all right. I would assume that's you lowering all others to your level, but if you state that you find evidence in the linked article, I will condescend to read it.

Nichevo said...

That article is exceedingly ill-written.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Sorun,

The other thing to consider is the likelihood the cats end up in a shelter for a few weeks before being put down anyway.

Lots of dogs and cats end up in shelters when the sick or dead owner's relatives won't take the animals in.


One of our two cats came initially as a kitten from a feral cat colony in Maryland. He was adopted by an 86-year-old gentleman who made his relatives promise to care for him when he died. When he actually did die, the relatives naturally forgot all about the promise. Which is how Charlie ended up with me: My mom fosters cats, and I happened to be visiting -- sharing a room with him, no less -- when she'd already had him for more than six months.

My parents have made me promise to take in their animals if necessary. (And it probably will be -- there are a couple of parrots that are quite likely to outlive them.) I will do it.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Nichevo,

Really, no one is forcing you to read this blog. You can leave and find more congenial/better-written/&c. material more to your taste at any time.

elkh1 said...

What is good for the dog is good for its human companion.

Dog companions: never mourn for losing your dogs.

MadisonMan said...

She divorced him and took half his savings 6 months later.

Totally your fault for making the comment about the daughter.

victoria said...

Stupid idea.


Vicki from Pasadena

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Anybody who has a problem with this but none with abortion on demand can go fuck themselves.

Susan Stewart Rich said...

Human beings = art and comedy

ken in sc said...

We once had two dogs, a female black lab and a male pekinese they were with us many years together. The lab became incontinent, demented, and deaf. We had her put down. The pekingese seemed to mourn for her and he only lived a few more months. He went into a coma and died at home. I happened to be in the room when he breathed his last breath. One could say he died of a broken heart. He was much younger than the lab.

rcommal said...

Wow. Trained service/companion animals are very special, and a lot if time and work is invested in them. At age 5, this dog was still in her prime, with likely many years if loyalty, love and help to offer, and to be loved and appreciated in return. I have no idea about now, but their used to be waiting lists for getting a trained service/companions. This seems such a shame and waste to me.

I don't doubt that dogs mourn their deceased humans (I've seen evidence often enough of dogs mourning their deceased canine and even cat buddies , in our own home and others'). But most are adaptable.

In addition to whatever loss (or whatever you want to call it) that the dog felt at the woman's passing, he also might have been "wandering" at loose ends the next day because he was trained to "do" things. He was a working dog with a job and routine. His world may have been upended, but it didn't need to be over.

How sad.

lemondog said...

The perception that the dog is "in mourning" is subjective

Wild elephants have been seen ‘mourning’ or whatever term you wish to apply, by staying with the fallen body of a herd member and caressing with their trunks until they must move on in search of food and water, are then observed periodically revisiting the site and touching the carcass or remaining bones. I see that as experiencing a loss and call it grieving.

Would I euthanize? No. Like humans, animals adapt.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Don't take your dog to heaven.

Heaven knows we need it here.

bagoh20 said...

I have to stop wandering around aimlessly.

bagoh20 said...

I have to stop wandering around aimlessly.

Ann Althouse said...

"Depends on the dog. Depends on the master."

Please use the Althouse portal for all those Dependses.

Bender said...

Of course dogs experience separation anxiety and a feeling of loss - what one might call "mourning" - when someone close dies or otherwise is no longer around.

Dogs are by their very nature social creatures. If a member of the pack is not there, they feel it. Moreover, dogs are deferential to the leader. So if it is the leader of the pack that is gone, they will especially feel the loss.

Ann Althouse said...

"Speaking of understanding, it literally never occurred to me that the people were selfish in putting the dog down because they wanted to be rid of it."

Then I really have no idea what you believe I said that bothered you so much.

You should be a lot more reflective about your own emotionalism. It's screwing up your reading and your writing.

Bender said...

Understanding the social nature and dynamic of dogs is key to training them. If you do not assert yourself as leader, then they will attempt to take over.

But if you do assert yourself as leader and provide for them as a leader does, then they will remain loyal to you and be happier for it.

Bender said...

Speaking of understanding, it literally never occurred to me that the people were selfish in putting the dog down because they wanted to be rid of it

What if it is squirrels in the yard you want to be rid of? Do you just put poison out for them to eat?

If you want to practice your throwing, do you have any problem with tossing rocks at birds to see if you can hit and kill them?

Nichevo said...

Michelle, I said the linked Daily Mail article was ill-written. I usually don't follow her links but in this case I felt compelled to. My instincts, however, were correct.

You probably misinterpreted my words because of my critical remarks regarding Althouse, which you conflated with my criticism of the linked Daily Mail article. Why don't you ask her if she needs your help to deal with me. I should think that a person of intellectual integrity would be willing to be told her faults. Meanwhile her posts are in fact of decreasing value/worth, I linger mostly for the comments.

But when I want your advice on what other blogs to read, I will be sure to ask you. Thanks for offering!

tiger said...

1)Nichevo said...
I don't think I would put down the dog down myself, but Ann, this just shows you up for the heartless insensitive troglodyte bitch that you are. Dogs mourning their owners goes back to Homer's Odyssey. But I guess you don't read. Why would you? You have tenure.'

Are you naturally an azz*o** or is it something that you aspire to?

2) As for the article: Sick sick sick. As previously pointed out this stuff was done by the Pharohs(sp)and wrong in the 21st century. And no I don't belong to PETA not am I intrigued by their ideas or subscribe to their magazine.

Dante said...

I think the Terracotta army was a great move forward. Instead of burying alive thousands of soldiers to protect the king, they made replicas. Longer lasting, too.

tiger said...

' TMink said...
Reminds me of a car ride with a friend, his nutty wife, and their daughter. It was at night and the mother kept reassuring the toddler that she did not have to be afraid in the dark.

The child was cooing and looking around and in no way distressed. I made the mistake of telling the mother!

She divorced him and took half his savings 6 months later.

Trey'

Huh? Either you left something out or I missed something in the translation; could you review this?

Nichevo said...

Bender, since you quote me, I presume I am being addressed and, apparently, criticized, but I know not for what.

Althouse, please first clarify whether you glean that the family's offense is pharaonic egocentrism, laziness/neglect, both, and/or other.

Bob Boyd said...

Ann said:

"Please use the Althouse portal for all those Dependses."

Relax. Its a f**king Depends.

Nichevo said...

And Bender, if you're pressing for an answer, no, I would probably not choose live animals for target practice, though it would probably be efficacious. A popular practice, I have heard, is going to shoot rats at a local dump. I'm not sure whether I would consider this moral, but I suppose vermin are different. Then again some might consider squirrels and birds as vermin.

Perhaps I phrased it inauspiciously? What never occurred to me was the idea, per Althouse's later implication, that the family killed the dog because they didn't want to care for it anymore. It didn't occur to me because I found and find it absurd. If that were the reason, I would disapprove extremely, but it's outlandish. For one thing the son had a snake, they are obviously pet people.

Dante said...

Before 9/11, there was an instance in which somebody out here in San Jose lost his cool, and took a poodle and threw it into traffic. It died.

A local talk radio host made a big deal out of it, and it became National News. I said "Who cares? Don't we have bigger issues to deal with?

I was at one time hoping 9/11 would shake America out of its sensory deprivation chamber so it would stop hallucinating about ridiculous issues like this and start tackling the real issues, such as how to make proper 21st century workers out of the millions of illegals and their progeny, the debt.

Same with this. Who knows actually why the people killed the dog. Perhaps they weren't thinking straight in their own mourning. Should there be a law for this? I don't think so. "No killing dogs in mourning."

I'm not objecting to Ann posting this, it's her blog, and I'm not quite clear on her motivations for posting it, but I don't think it matters regarding the dog. Even PETA kills a lot of dogs and cats. The pound kills a lot of cats and dogs. I made pork fried rice for my kid's breakfast.

paul a'barge said...

@althouse: The perception that the dog is "in mourning" is subjective

You have dogs. Wow.

It seems like every time I turn around you display a heretofore level of cluelessness that rivals every thing so far.

bagoh20 said...

I'd like there to be less people willing to justify evil shit. I mean how many of those do we really need?

exhelodrvr1 said...

I don't think it was a wise use of a valuable asset, but I don't see how it can be labeled "cruel" if the dog was euthanized mercifully. Unless you label every other killing "cruel."

phx said...

If, God forbid, anything should happen to Althouse, I think Meade should euthanize the blog and bury it with AA.

"Goodbye, bloggy."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

If I die before my cats, I hope no one has the bright idea of killing them so that they can be buried with me.

Alright. But you better hope the cats don't die first. They left different instructions.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

xhelodrvr1 said...

I don't think it was a wise use of a valuable asset, but I don't see how it can be labeled "cruel" if the dog was euthanized mercifully. Unless you label every other killing "cruel."

What was done does not meet the definition of euthanasia.

eu·tha·na·sia [yoo-thuh-ney-zhuh, -zhee-uh, -zee-uh]
noun
1.
Also called mercy killing. the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition.

MadisonMan said...

It's hard to see why this was the only option. Wait a week and see how the dog adjusts. Is that hard to do?

Guide dogs are highly trained. I'm surprised there's no mechanism to give them to someone else when the owner dies.

tmitsss said...

Give me a half pound of liver and a week and he won't remember you existed.

Comment by a dog trainer to a caller who was concerned about the grief her dog would suffer if the caller died.

I think with was on NPR when I used to listen

phx said...

Is that hard to do?

What, we're supposed to hold up the burial for Bowser?

Bender said...

Once again the tyranny of the bastardization of language. In this instance, the word "mercy."

It is a false mercy that eliminates suffering by merely eliminating the one who suffers. Whether death is caused by the person's head being smashed in with a brick or by being poisoned with "medicine," it is an act of violence, the antithesis of mercy.

Dante said...

I'd like there to be less people willing to justify evil shit. I mean how many of those do we really need?

Do you think it is evil to have killed the dog?

john said...

I hope Roger Ebert didn't request he be buried with a pet.

RIP

john said...

I hope Roger Ebert didn't request he be buried with a pet.

RIP

traditionalguy said...

Now we must raise a toast to Greyfriars Bobby's grave stone outside Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh where he never left his Master's grave for 14 years.

Nini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nini said...

Obviuosly, Ann hasn't lived with a dog. We also have a rabbit and they both practically live in our home.

From my observation they both CAN understand. They do not just react to stimuli-- they can sort of choose the best action to take because, especially the dog, they have memory.

My daughter told me that she read that our dog, a border collie, has the intelligence of a 2 year old toddler. Living with our dog closely and having been treated like a member of our family, I can say that they have intelligence and memory (therefore not just living at the moment as one commenter opined earlier); although of course not to the degree that we humans have.

Many times I played tricks on my dog and she did exactly as a human would do in a similar situation.

Are the lives of human more important than the lives of dog?

I'd say no. The dog's lives are important to them based on their nature.


Our border collie (on flickr)

Kiana

Sarah said...

The line from the story that struck me? "[T]he controversial decision to destroy the dog has provoked a huge backlash in the town..."

I live in Terre Haute, and this is the first I heard of this. I ust be in the non-huge backlash part of town...

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