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Oh my darlin'....
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Cindi    Posted 01-28-2004 at 18:22:27       [Reply]  [No Email]
Brutus, the dwarf billy was being his normal obstinate self this afternoon, breaking out, and getting into mischief. After we fed everybody and got everything else done, Fred and I caught him and set about putting him into the south pasture where he can't possibly get out.

Rather than having to open the gate and deal with the electric fenceline, we decided to drop him gently over the fence. We were just easing him over when Jake came walking up from the woods with his rifle. He glanced at us, and then headed to the house to put his gun away.

"Hang on there a minute Jake, don't go anywhere."
Fred said, and then, "You see anything?"

"Nah. Nothing in the trap, either." Jake said. "Hang on for what? You need my help? Cause I was gonna..."

"Nope." Fred interrupted him. "I need your gun." He said, his eyes trained on Brutus.

"Huh? What for?"

I was listening to this exchange with only half an ear, struggling with my end of that nasty stinking little billy goat, thinking that he was just horsing around, threatening to put Brutus out of our misery. His answer knocked the wind right out of me.

"I have to shoot Clementine."

It wasn't so much his answer that caught me off guard, as he had been threatening to do it for quite some time. It was the conviction behind it that made me feel as though I had been punched in the stomach.

"Shoot....shoot Clemetine? You're going to shoot her?" I asked. "Right now? Right this minute?"

"Yep. I should have done it a long time ago and out of fairness to her, I can't put it off any longer. It was bad enough when she was just not gaining weight, but I noticed that everything she eats lately, she throws up. I suspect she may have cancer or something else that we can't fix. We've done everything humanly possible to help her. It's time."

Brutus was over the fence now. My throat was closing up so I couldn't speak, and my heart was thudding dully in my chest. Wait. Wait a minute! Clementine is my blue-eyed baby! She was our number one sow, way back at the start. She was the beginning of our dream to raise show pigs. She was, and this is the truth, the pig who taught me most of what I know about pigs, and she was no less a part of Fred's life than mine, and I wondered where he got the strength to even think about doing such a thing, even though she is gravely ill and it has been obvious for a while that both of us had been selfishly, quietly, waiting for her to die on her own.

"Do you want me to do it?" Jake asked, his face calm and serious.

"Yes." Fred said. "I would like you to do it, but your mother wouldn't. To tell you the truth son, I would rather take a beating right here and now, than have to shoot that pig. It tears me up to have to do it, but it's the right thing to do."

"Why doesn't she want me to do it?" Jake asked, perplexed. I stood there like a dummy and let them talk about me like I wasn't there. All I could think about was not seeing Clementine looking up at me with her beautiful blue eyes anymore. Ever.

"Because she's told me that she doesn't want you to always be put in the position of the 'executioner'."

" doesn't bother me." Jake replied.

"I know, and I think that's what worries her."

"No, what I mean is...I don't, you know, care about her like you guys do."

What he was saying is that he didn't have the emotional investment in Clementine that Fred and I had. What he was saying, was that to him she was just another pig, just like the ones he had been hunting in the woods not a half hour ago. What he was saying is that he could do it and it wouldn't break his heart. It made sense to me, what he was saying.

I found myself leaning towards his suggestion. Fred is a strong man. Both emotionally and physically and I knew he could do it, would do it, and do it well, and would go on with his life being satisfied that he had made the right decision because by now, he had reached a point where he was doing it solely to put her out of her misery. It was no longer about us, or the show pigs she would never have. It wasn't even about how much he hated doing it. It was purely about Clementine, and ending her suffering.

"Are you sure, son?" I asked. "Are you sure you can do it, and do it properly? It has to be fast, I don't want her to suffer any more."

"Mom....I kill hogs all the time. I think I can get it done."

I just shook my head.

"It's between you and your father. You know if I thought I could do it right, I would do it myself."

That wasn't the biggest lie I had ever told, but dam close to it, and it didn't hold any water with either Fred or Jake.

I turned on my heel and headed for the house. I was half way across the yard when I started bawling. I let myself into the house and went directly to the television and turned it up, then I stood right beside it, my fingers plugging my ears, waiting, tears running down my face. I had known this was coming, losing my darling Clementine, but I like Fred had been hoping that it would come naturally, not violently.

Jenny came in right behind me.

"Is it done? Is it over?" I asked. She just shook her head gravely.

"I'm being ridiculous!" I said.

I turned down the television and went to the kitchen, where I started cutting up chicken for supper. The sound of the shot couldn't have been any louder if I had been standing right there at Clementine's pen. There was another shot immediately following the first, and then silence. It was good. I couldn't have stood it if I had heard Clementine cry out, but I didn't. It was over. Nonetheless, the tears just kept coming.

Jake came in several minutes later to wash his hands and I put my hand on his back as he stood over the sink.

"Thank you son."

He didn't say anything, and it was then that I knew that he had been the one who finally pulled the trigger. Fred had allowed him to do that, but he had stood at his side when he did it. Just to be there, and to make sure that it was done right, which is a he11 of a lot more than I could have done.

jeanette    Posted 01-29-2004 at 07:38:51       [Reply]  [No Email]
oh cindi that is soo sad, sitting here with tears in my eyes like a big old dummy. neither one of us is good at putting down an animal, we usually have jack do it if it is necessary.

RichZ    Posted 01-29-2004 at 06:51:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Cindi, I'm so sorry. You know me well enough to know that I understand how you feel.

It was the right thing to do. I gotta tell you that both you and Fred are much stronger than me. I dread when something like that happens to my animals. I'm glad you guys were able to handle it so well.

Cindi    Posted 01-29-2004 at 08:24:30       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hey Jeanette! How are you girl? We seem to have more in common every day.

Rich, Fred said this morning he's not sure if he could have actually done it. If it hadn't been for Jake it might not have gotten done. Neither one of us is as brave or strong as you think, and (whispering) we both get more sentimental every year.

TO35    Posted 01-29-2004 at 02:45:51       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sorry to hear, its never easy. Atleast Clementine
is no longer suffering.

best wishes

Cindi    Posted 01-29-2004 at 02:51:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well, here's the thing. She had lost so much weight she was down to skin and bones and couldn't keep herself warm any more. Even though she had all the hay she could snuggle down in, Fred went out night before last and checked on her and he said she was shivering. Since last night called to be even colder he made up his mind that she wasn't going to have another night like that. That's why he decided to do it yesterday. He didn't tell me all that until this morning. That's why it came as such a shock.

TO35    Posted 01-29-2004 at 03:03:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
Probably better that way or you'd have been up all nite worrying...even though it was a tough job to do suffering that way would be worse..
keep your chin up it was the right thing to do...


deadcarp    Posted 01-28-2004 at 22:51:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
"never get so close to a critter that you can't put it out of its misery" dad had always said. but that was before - before he'd gotten a job in the mines, before we got a town house, before we sold the cows and horses and there wouldn't be room for a big dog in town.

that dog had babysat me when i was a toddler and mom hung out clothes, tugged me away from the board pile, the iron pile, wouldn't let me near critters or the road and taught me more about fairness than any person ever did. if i stepped in his foot he'd nip, if i whacked him he'd trip me. so when i got the 22 out and yelled "brownie", he came off the sandpile and thought we were going hunting. i thought about all those things on the way out and walked the woods a long time. finally we came home. dad, who i know couldn't do it, took one look and wasn't real happy. he told me hold it, we were going out there again and he only wanted to see one of us come back, and right now he wasn't too fussy which one. don't know what i finally mustered but i sure couldn't do it nowdays. i dam near couldn't then. :)

Cindi    Posted 01-29-2004 at 02:44:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
Nor could old were you at the time?

I could shoot any animal that threatened me, or in some cases, put an animal down that is dying anyway. I once shot a goat that was in the middle of a bad birth and it was clear she was dying. I couldn't leave her like that.

But Clementine was sick, and being that animals can't talk, you can only go by symptoms. And hers got worse everyday. Fred says.....

"If she was a mean old bit*h that snapped at you every time you got near her, it would be one thing. But she never caused a second's trouble. She was sweet natured and easy going and always did just what we asked of her.

That was Clementine.

I asked Fred later, he said she did cry out. It wasn't nearly so neat and final as it sounded from inside the house.

deadcarp-age?    Posted 01-29-2004 at 08:44:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
i musta been say 10-12 at the time. (when i hit 12 i started using the 16 gauge.)

Cindi    Posted 01-29-2004 at 15:42:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
That's rough. That was young.

sdg    Posted 01-29-2004 at 04:50:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
Cindi Im sorry for loss, worst thing about having animls. but the joys are worth it. she's better now.

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