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sail on, sailor girl......

  1. Carls

    2,839 posts.
    Sail On, Sailor Girl
    In life we face many tough decisions.

    Sad story, came accross it by chance...

    A few days ago, Jim faced just such a decision. And last night, my sister and her husband had to make the same decision.

    The circumstances, however, were quite different. To understand even a small amount the difficult choice Cindy and Don faced, one must understand the relationship they had forged with a severely abused four-month-old puppy.

    People that made a habit of rescuing strays and abused animals had picked it up from a reservation. Cindy and Don took possession of a puppy that was on the verge of death. It had an ear infection, an eye infection, mites and worms. It was rail-thin and dirty. Clearly it had been kicked, most likely by people wearing hats and boots, because in the years that followed the dog would lose it whenever anyone wearing such clothing came into the house.

    Over time the puppy's health improved, and she grew to love and accept love from her new family. Because she loved baths and getting into water, she was named Sailor Girl. As she grew she became physically healthy, but her mind never really did. She often growled, and for no particular reason. Strangers were treated with great distrust. Play fighting in the house was out of the question. Any kind of aggression would send the dog into Cujo mode, ready to defend her territory or her masters. She often nipped at Guinness, Cindy's Black Labrador Retriever, but overall they got along well.

    She even bit a few people, including Cindy, not out of malice, but rather misplaced aggression. The bites didn't puncture, they only left bruises, and they happened because people didn't heed Cindy's advice and encroached upon Sailor's space too rapidly. The dog had simply been beaten so much as a puppy that she never forgot what humans are capable of doing.

    Nevertheless, Cindy and Don loved and pampered her as best they could. But over the last couple of years, Sailor began to grow surlier. Things did not improve when Cindy's son Devin was born. Sailor never really took to the boy. She often growled at him. A bloom of fear started to grow in Cindy's heart. The canine form of Prozac seemed to help a little, but the dog was always a little crusty, as Cindy put it.

    And Sailor was not a small dog. Devin, at two years old, was face high with the dog's mouth. One didn't need a fortune-teller to see what could happen. And now carrying her second child, Cindy realised that she could not afford the risk. She works as a veterinarian's assistant and is fully aware of how dogs behave. Added to that is an impending move to the East Coast, the stress of which would have added to Sailor's unbalanced mental state.

    For the past month, Cindy and Don had been struggling with the pain of knowing what they would have to do. Many tears were shed. Cindy cried herself to sleep every night. A lot of soul-searching was done. Ordinarily, people decide to put down a pet to alleviate its pain and suffering, usually as a result of injury or old age. Sailor was already eight years old, but physically she was healthy. She probably would live for several years longer, but questions remained: What condition would she be in mentally? Would she ever attack Devin? And with another child soon to be born, how would she handle another baby in the house?

    And so yesterday, Cindy and Don gave Sailor a good day. Everyone in the house gave her extra love and attention. We took her down to her favourite river to play fetch. She went out for several walks during the day. She napped and ate and did all the things she normally did.

    At 6.00pm, Cindy gave her three strong tranquilizer tablets that were supposed to put her into a mellow mood. She didn't zone out much at all, though she did seem a little more relaxed. Any other dog would probably have slept. At 8.20pm, the vets arrived and gave Sailor a sedative to make her relaxed and sleepy. Cindy and Don took Sailor into their bedroom where the dogs slept, and made her comfortable in her own bed. They stayed with her while the vets waited in the living room with me. They are Cindy's employers and friends, and clearly this was something they knew had to be done, but that didn't make their job any easier.

    15 minutes later, they went into the bedroom and closed the door. And with a single, painless injection, Sailor was at peace. Carefully they wrapped her in a blanket and carried her downstairs to the truck. The worst part of the day was over.

    Today the phone has been ringing off the hook as family and friends have been calling to give their support. They knew and loved Sailor, and they know both Cindy and Don have gone through a great deal of heartache.

    It was a heavy day for everyone, but I am glad I could be here for Cindy and Don. I respect and admire them very much. I am very proud of them. They are real heroes in my book. Not many people would have the patience and heart to put in the effort it took to take an abused puppy and give her a comfortable, happy life.

    Sailor lived well and was loved. Her life was mostly good. For that I am glad.

    Sail on, Sailor Girl. Heaven is waiting on you.

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