An ode to Napoleon Dynamite
I haven’t cried in… thirty years maybe. I pride myself on having had quite the sociopath(ic) streak. I mean I’ve probably shed the errant tear when hobbled by a piece of Lego or having just smashed myself with some or other briskly rotating contraption in the workshop (which I was likely using in an ill-considered manner for which the said device was clearly never intended). But those instances have usually been associated with significant blood loss, and shouldn’t really count.
Yesterday I had to put my Basset Hound down. Technically he was my wife’s Basset Hound, but him and I have been both simpatico and snuggle buddies for more than a decade now.
I really loved that dog.
At fourteen years he was venerable for his breed and it was (likely) the right decision, his back legs giving out now and he was already on the maximum regimen of anti-inflammatories and pain-killers.
Still, there is something coldblooded about murdering a family member that would probably, if given the choice, choose to carry on living, and yes, there is anthropomorphism creeping into my imaginings.
It was quick. Although he shook like a leaf. I think he suspected my betrayal. My custodianship had brought us here to this point, where I had decided to end his life. I wonder if he was afraid of dying. The great unknown, but probably infinite nothingness. Am I projecting my own (atheistic) anxiety about death?
Walking back down the passage back to the vets reception I got a huge lump in my throat. Basset Hound, tri-color, I’d wrote down on the form for cremation, ‘yes, I’d like the ashes, a wooden box is fine’. Damn, were those tears?
As an indictment of myself I offer up that I didn’t cry when my old man died last year. Vaguely I wonder why that is. Maybe its because we had a complicated relationship… or maybe its because I have a personality disorder. As evidence I quote Paul Bloom
Often people who commit terrible acts are empathetic and caring in other parts of their lives. One manifestation of this, often pointed by those who want to mock vegetarians, was the concern that many Nazis had for non-human animals. Hitler famously loved dogs and hated hunting, but this was nothing compared to Hermann Goring, who imposed rules restricting hunting, the shoeing of horses and the boiling of lobsters and crabs – an mandated that those who violated these rules be sent to concentration camps (this was the punishment that he imposed on a fisherman for cutting up a live frog for bait). Or take Joseph Gobbels who said, ‘The only real friend one has in the end is the dog. The more I get to know the human species, the more I care for my Benno’.
When I first met my wife Napoleon Dynamite was already around. My other-half likes kooky, off-beat movies like this, hence his namesake. Friday nights I’d drive to her place and we’d binge watch Sons of Anarchy. Me and the Basset Hound clicked immediately. He would pretend that he needed to go out to pee, and when my wife got up to let him out, he would charge back from the kitchen door and steal her spot next to me on the couch.
Later in the evening he would retrieve his toy bag (a linen laundry bag) and drag it into the lounge. He would dig in the bag and retrieve each toy from within and then proudly show them to me.
I don’t want to say I married my wife because of her cool dog… but he was certainly a factor. After all, ‘must like dogs’ was probably a ticky-box requirement. (Along with Indie-alternative and must earn more money than me*)
*okay, that last part was just a happy circumstance.
Its the end of an… era. Maybe.
Dog people can never understand why their faithful animal companions are cursed with such short lifespans. Although maybe its the humans with their longevity, and their reluctance to accept reality that are cursed. In any event, (if you’ll forgive the bathetic-ness) I hope I was a good… I suddenly find myself reticent to use the word ‘owner’, that doesn’t feel very, pet-woke to me… hmmm…
… whatever the weirdly symbiotic relationship status is between a human and a canine is?
I hope I was a good one of those. I’m sorry for the way it ended. I really am.