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Doggone It

My ayi (cleaner) disapproved of spending any money on putting him down, and offered to poison him for free, with a quick chuck of the body into the rubbish bin

By Suzanne Robare Updated Apr.1

Pet owners – the kind, decent pet owners – know that to love a dog is to someday say goodbye to it. One of my dogs started having seizures, a hell of a thing to watch, and given his advanced age and the growth on his junk (his favorite toy) I took the horrible step of deciding to have him put to sleep.  

The walk to the vet was a nightmare. My ayi (cleaner) disapproved of spending any money on putting him down, and offered to poison him for free, with a quick chuck of the body into the rubbish bin. Then, a stay of execution occurred when my Chinese granny’s Pekinese passed away and she asked me to let Baby live for a few more days as she couldn’t bear to have two Pekinese doggies go to heaven in the same week. Finally, I knew it was time, and asked ayi to come with me, and set off in the rain with Baby on a leash, trusting us and trotting along with his wide Peke smile. First, for some reason known only to ayi, we began to trot in the wrong direction. “You’ll see where we’re going,” she promised. We ended up at a dog grooming place where, on the doorstep, she asked the dog groomer (and I swear I am not kidding) if the groomer had anything to kill the dog with as (again, no kidding) “The vet costs 500 yuan (US$70) and we’re looking for a thrifty way to get rid of it.” A thought ran through my head – this is not the woman you should run to with an unplanned pregnancy for sure, and even the groomer was appalled. After receiving a firm “No” (“Are you sure there’s not a heavy brick or something lying around that you’re not using?” ayi asked) we headed off in the cold and rain to the vet’s office.  

I was furious and even Baby lost his customary good humor and seemed to slink unhappily toward his fate. Once at the vet’s office, ayi explained what we wanted. I spoke to the vet, described the symptoms, and had the vet’s approval and even approbation for what we were about to do. They allowed us to stay with him while it happened, so we were holding him during the first injection which knocked him out, his head lolling like a sleepy teddy bear, and when the final injection was added and he passed immediately, without pain, ayi reared her head back and howled, adding a heart broken wail of “Baaayyyybeeeeeeee!” I couldn’t believe it. This is a woman who offered to cure his testicular cancer with two bricks and wanted to off him with rat poison, but there she was howling like a Klingon performing a ritual for a comrade killed in action. It was only fitting. There was some stir in the outside office (Look, a foreigner crying over her dog!) but to my surprise it wasn’t like that, it was more of a feeling of sympathy for us, and a wave of fear for the time when their own beloved doggies would pass. I heard muffled sobs from faces pressed into their own pets’ fur and drew comfort from the brotherhood of people who love their pets.  

Princess Doggie Number One has felt a little lost since that day and we are not planning on replacing Baby. I figure another dog will turn up one day and I’m not in a hurry to replace my lovely smiling companion. He was a darling little thing and I am glad he’s out of pain now. I sleep better without his grunts and snores under the bed, or the constant barking – “Someone’s on the stairs! The stairs! The stairs! Now they’re gone! Gone! Gone!” – and I can walk around barefoot without someone trying to lick my feet. Still, a word to my friends: If I have seizures, don’t let ayi take me to the hairdressers, and check her handbag for bricks. There is a thing known as being TOO thrifty and I am not taking any more chances.