Last night Negro put himself to sleep

It’s sad when a pet dies, really sad, but not quite as much so when it dies by itself, sparing you the awful task of putting it to sleep, putting it down, putting it out of its misery. Pick your own euphemism. Any hackneyed turn of phrase will do except admitting you decided to end the life, to kill, a most loyal companion.

Negro, was the mellowest of campo dogs, one of those free-roaming customers who lived, ate and stayed out of the rain by his wits and supplemented his precarious fortune by sidling up to any human who was kind to him.

Even before our house was finished five years ago, Negro, Chucha (his mother?) and Brenda (his sister?) accurately spotted in Stew and me two softies who were good for a handful of dog food once, two, even three times a day and, just as important, a reassuring pat on the head every time. All they had to do was show up at the gate of our ranch.

Negro was fifty or sixty pounds of canine mush, all black (hence his name) always ready to run to our gate, tail wagging, usually followed by the other two dogs and sometimes a fourth named Osita, or “Little Bear,” whenever he spotted our car or pickup approaching.

Predictably, the two teams of dogs, the outsiders led by Negro, and our five insiders, led by Lucy, would launch into a round of raucous barking at each other.

The outside foursome, or now a threesome, technically belongs to Don Vicente, the rancher down the hill from our place, who never seems to care much for them except allowing them to stay in a tin shack at night and when it rained.

For the past week or so Negro had been glaringly missing from the gate—normally he would come at least once a day to get some food—and so three days ago Félix went looking for him. He found Negro lying by the tin shack, emaciated and barely moving.

In our pet cemetery lies our cat Ziggy, or Ziggi as Félix spelled his name.

We took him to the vet—Negro returned the favor by peeing all over the back seat of our pickup—where he was diagnosed with a respiratory infection, though he looked far worse. When he didn’t respond to a couple of injections of antibiotics, we ordered a blood test that revealed all his organs and vital signs way out of whack. He was nearly dead.

The young vet said he’d give Negro another round of antibiotics but Stew and I started that dreadful talk about “putting him to sleep”, an expression I loathe because it sounds so sappy and evasive. If Negro didn’t come around by Saturday, we’d have to end his life.

Negro spared us that awful decision: He died on his own last night at the vet’s office.

Félix and his nephew are digging a new grave at our pet cemetery for Negro, next to his suspected mother Chucha, and Chupitos, one of Félix’s dogs, and our cat Ziggy.

Stew is on the way to the vet who was supposed to do an autopsy to find out what exactly killed Negro. One possibility is poisoning.

I’m here writing a story, which is my escape in stressful situations.

I would like to think, wistfully for sure, that Negro tried to repay the kindnesses we extended to him and his family over the years by sparing us the decision of  “putting him to sleep.”

Even if that’s not really true, thanks, Negro.


My blog about Chucha:;postID=6297721931355461361;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=80;src=link

9 thoughts on “Last night Negro put himself to sleep

  1. That has to be the hardest thing to do, to make that decision to put the pet down, I hate it, and probably have waited too long sometimes,hoping for miracles…For my wife and myself, they are our children, part of the family and hard to see them go.Thanks for taking care of him, Mexico has a long place to go before animals are treated a little better. But it is turning around, little by little.


  2. Not that it makes any difference at this point, but the vet mentioned that poisoning is the cause of death of the majority of campo dogs. Negro's autopsy showed that his kidneys were grossly inflamed. Some of the time people poison them on purpose but also stray dogs get into poisonous substances like car antifreeze or eat the carcasses of sick farm animals. In fact ranchers often will leave diseased animals they can't sell out on the field for the dogs and coyotes to eat. It's some sort of recycling I suppose, except for the collateral damage of the predators getting sick themselves.


  3. From my friend Vince Quinn:Where do you bury a pet? In your heart ~!~My condolences to you and Stew over the loss of a friend. I know the feeling only too well. I still mourn the loss of my best friend and companion of 18 years, Kitty. She died in my arms five years ago but I still miss her and think of her all the time.I also had numerous strangers come to my door when I lived in my little house. And I found one of them dead in my yard. Another, a wondereful Scottish Fold, had to be euthanized because he had FLV. The veterinarian cried as hard as I did.Never regret that you were kind to this poor little creature, your loving care for these animals is its own reward.Love from Vicente


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