I don't remember much from the place I was born. It was cramped and dark, and we
were never played with by the humans. I remember Mom and her soft fur, but she was often sick, and very thin.
She had hardly any milk for me and my brothers and sisters. I remember many of them dying, and I missed them so.
I do remember the day I was taken from Mom. I was so sad and scared, my milk teeth had only just come in, and I really
should have been with Mom still, but she was so sick, and the Humans kept saying that they wanted money and were sick of the
"mess" that me and my sister made. So we were crated up and taken to strange place.
Just the two of us. We huddled together and were scared, still no human hands came to pet
or love us. So many sights and sounds, and smells! We are in a store where there are many different animals!
Some that squawk! Some that meow! Some that peep! My sister and I are jammed into a small cage. I
hear other puppies here. I see humans look at me. I like the 'little humans', the kids. They look so sweet,
and fun, like they would play with me! All day we stay in the small cage, sometimes mean people will hit the glass
and frighten us, every once in a while we are taken out to be held or shown to humans. Some are gentle, some hurt us.
We always hear "Aw, they are so cute! I want one!" but we never get to go with any. My sister died last night,
when the store was dark. I lay my head on her soft fur and felt the life leave her small thin body. I had heard
them say she was sick, and that I should be sold as a "discount price" so that I would quickly leave the store. I think
my soft whine was the only one that mourned for her as her body was taken out of the cage in the morning and dumped.
Today, a family came and bought me! Oh happy day! They are a nice family, they
really, really wanted me! They had brought a dish and food and the little girl held me so tenderly in her arms.
I love her so much! The mom and dad say what a sweet and good puppy I am! I am named Angel. I love to lick my
new humans! The family takes such good care of me, they are loving and tender and sweet. They gentle teach me
right and wrong, give me good food, and lots of love! I want only to please these wonderful people! I love the
little girl and I enjoy running and playing with her.
Today I went to the veterinarian. it was a strange place and I was frightened. I
got some shots, but my best friend the little girl held me softly and said it would be OK. So I relaxed. The Vet must
have said sad words to my beloved family, because they looked awfully sad. I heard "Severe hip dysplasia," and something
about my heart... I heard the vet say something about backyard breeders and my parents not being tested. I know not
what any of that means, just that it hurts me to see my family so sad. But they still love me, and I still love them
I am six months old now. Where most other puppies are robust and rowdy, it hurts
me terribly just to move. The pain never lets up. It hurts to run and play with my beloved little girl, and I
find it hard to breathe. I keep trying my best to be the strong pup I know I am supposed to be, but it is so hard. it
breaks my heart to see the little girl so sad, and to hear the Mom and Dad talk about, "Now might be the time."
Several times I have gone to that veterinarianšs place, and the news is never good.
Always talk about Congenital Problems. I just want to feel the warm sunshine and run and play, and nuzzle with my family.
Last night was the worst. Pain has been constant now, it hurts even to get up and get a drink. I try to
get up but can only whine in pain.
I am taken in the car one last time. Everyone is so sad, and I don't know why.
Have I been bad? I try to be good and loving - what have I done wrong? Oh if only this pain would be gone!
If only I could soothe the tears of the little girl. I reach out my muzzle to lick her hand, but can only whine in pain.
The veterinarianšs table is so cold. I am so frightened. The humans all hug and love me, they cry into my soft fur.
I can feel their love and sadness. I manage to lick softly their hands. Even the vet doesn't seem so scary today.
He is gentle and I sense some kind of relief for my pain. The little girl hold me softly and I thank her, for giving
me all her love. I feel a soft pinch in my foreleg. The pain is beginning to lift, I am beginning to feel a peace
descend upon me. I can now softly lick her hand.
My vision is becoming dreamlike now, and I see my Mother and my brothers and sisters, in
a far off green place. They tell me there is no pain there, only peace and happiness. I tell the family goodbye
in the only way I know how - a soft wag of my tail and a nuzzle of my nose. I had hoped to spend many, many moons with them,
but it was not meant to be. "You see," said the veterinarian,"pet shop puppies do not come from ethical breeders."
The pain ends now, and I know it will be many years until I see my beloved family again. If only things could have
This story may be published or reprinted in the hopes that it will stop unethical
breeders and those who breed only for money and not for the betterment of the breed. Copyright 1999 J. Ellis
How Could You?
By Jim Willis,
When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me
your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever
I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you? -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.
My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but
we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams,
and I believed that life could not be
any more perfect.
We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got
the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the
end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching
for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about
bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.
She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed her into our home, tried
to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.
Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their
pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent
most of my time banished to another room,
or to a dog crate. Oh, how I
wanted to love them, but I became a prisoner of love."
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves
up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about
them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need
be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and
together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.
There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo
of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject.
I had gone from being "your dog" to
"just a dog," and you resented every
expenditure on my behalf.
Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving
to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was
your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of
dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her."
They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers."
You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed, "No, Daddy! Please
don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty,
about love and responsibility, and about
respect for all life.
You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take
my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said
you probably knew about your upcoming move
months ago and made no attempt
to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed
us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago.
At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that
you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who
might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their
own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded
along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room.
She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded
in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.
As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily
on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.
She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked
her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago.
She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool
liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and
hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned,
or have to fend for myself --a place of
love and light so very different
from this earthly place.
And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that
my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think
of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
A Note from the Author:
Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite
story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American and Canadian animal shelters. Anyone is welcome
to distribute the essay for a noncommercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. Please
use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public
that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care,
that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare
league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all
spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.