And, the World Goes On

Guilt is the most pervasive emotion of any person who has ever lost a dog. It doesn’t matter whether that dog was hit by a car or died peacefully in her sleep. We lost two of our pack today. Red died peacefully and without awareness of her immediate fate. I dug a hole for her. She was buried on a thin bed of flower petals and shrouded in Marsha’s favorite red robe. She doesn’t hear voices anymore. Poor crazy girl.

Blue went to the humane society and was immediately picked up by the Ohio State Prison dog training program. She’ll be transferred on Friday. This is a program that teaches inmates to train dogs. And after the dog is trained they go to a forever home. I understand that they also have an agility program. She’s going to make some inmate think he is a genius.

So Red is dead, and Blue went to prison. And the world goes on.

I have a number of correspondences since I posted the “Grief” item on my web log two days ago. It has been an interesting mix of people who understand completely… and others who worry at the edges of uncertainty and offer observations, often anthropomorphic, about good reasons to excuse pack behavior. The latter sort tends to worry at my sense of guilt.

Okay guilt means that we could have done better. We could have exhausted the possibilities of training and drugs and setting a proper environment. At the end of the day it is what it is. And, the world goes on.

You’ll note that yesterday I went right back into my work habit. That’s always been the kind of person that I am. Diving into work is a simple kind of armor to assume. It doesn’t really matter if that work is mowing grass, or digging a deep hole in dry clay, or coaxing agility training sequences out of my brain. It is a cathartic activity and an emersion into thinking that doesn’t dwell on the immediate and the obvious.

Years ago I read a quote by Nancy Gyes that inspired me somewhat. She said “I never give up on a dog; and I never give up on a handler.” I would have liked to have been that kind of rock, and owned that persistence of vision. When it comes right down to it… I’ve given up on dogs. It would be a lie to suggest otherwise. If I can say anything to my own defense to mitigate the abandonment of a creature that relied upon me… it is to say that my decisions are for the pack.

It would be easy for me to say that these were Marsha’s decisions. She has that clarity of thinking. But you know, I might have made an argument to sway her. And I could have and would have, except that I knew that she was right.

And When I’m Not Working

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at www.dogagility.org/store.

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2 Responses to “And, the World Goes On”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Bud, guilt is always a component of losing a dog just as you say. I have it bad when it comes to Starr. She died alone, overnight at the vets. I really didn’t want to leave her, but did on the vet’s advice. Her death still haunts me daily. You did what you thought was best; probably no one could have made Red’s life better – she may have been worse off if you tried to re home her. Sounds like Blue might find a nice home, hoefully the prison program is very positive training, but she will have one on one focus and go to a home as an only dog(hopefully). Maybe you will see her compete in agility sometime.
    You must be feeling incomplete, or like somehtings missing at home. You and Marsha did the best you could. You should both have a good cry.
    Later tears might come at odd times as memories flash across.
    Hoping you feel better in a few weeks.
    Michelle

  2. 2mindogtrainer Says:

    Today I drove home from swimming knowing I was going to be faced with a fierce memory of Red upon arriving at our driveway.

    For two years, regardless of our fencing or post-it notes on the door saying “please don’t let Red outside,” this smiling girl has lept over railings, babygates, and barriers to run down the driveway to greet me when my truck arrives home.

    She always had the good grace to appear a bit embarrassed but, after circling my truck, would hop into the cab and joyfully settle into the passenger seat. Even if we were going just 50 feet to park, she’d grin as if this was the most special time of day for her.

    It was a bit shocking to come around the bend and subconsciously wonder if Red would be greeting me in the driveway.

    Bud and I do plantings for our dogs, by the way, and Red will be immortalized with “Double Knock-Out Roses” and “Burning Bush.” I felt those sounded appropriate.

    Thanks to all of you for your kindness and support in our deep sadness.

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