Monday, November 15, 2010

Musings: On Mourning and Freedom

The still, warm humidity of night gave way near dawn to gusty winds that caused the trees to shudder and creak and sent sticks, seeds and who knows what all ricocheting off the skylights, like incoming rounds, which caused Koko to tremble and draw a little nearer.

So we got up and went out in the darkness of a late-rising sun dampened further by clouds that were moving fast across the heavens, revealing a blinking star here, a patch of blue there. And all the while the roosters crowed and the doves made their mournful little repetitive cries.

I hear thousands of people went to Hanalei yesterday to mourn the passing of surfing legend Andy Irons, while closer to home, a neighbor was mourning the death of her little dog, a Benji look-alike named Bear. He was a sweet little dog, and Koko always used to whine as we walked past their fenced and gated yard, hoping that Bear would come up to the fence to say hello.

I didn’t know that Bear had died until this morning, when his owners approached me to offer a warning as I walked past their yard. It seemed that the dog owned by the neighbor who lives between us had killed Bear, and they were worried that she might come after Koko next.

I knew exactly what dog they were talking about, because it was the same one that had helped kill my cat Poochie last April. I told them that, and they related that Bear was the third animal of theirs that the dog had killed, having previously dispatched one of their cats and their Papillon. It had been so devastating that when the woman asked her youngest daughter whether she wanted to go to Disneyland or put a fence around the property, the child had chosen the fence. But even that hadn’t kept the neighbor’s dog from getting in and killing Bear in his own yard.

Poochie also was killed in her own yard by a pack — the neighbor’s dog and two dogs owned by his son-in-law and daughter. After her death, the son-in-law had sent me an email saying he would keep his dog confined because he never wanted it to kill another pet. But that didn’t last, and soon both of his dogs were again running loose. My neighbor never exhibited a similar attack of conscience. He felt like dogs should be allowed to be dogs, to run free and chase stuff, form packs, even deadly ones.

But I didn’t report any of them to the Humane Society, because I wanted to keep the peace.

Still, Poochie’s murder put a strain on our friendship, and when I encountered this neighbor on my morning walks, I cringed when I saw him letting his dog run unleashed, cruising into other people’s yards, as I was always afraid I’d see another animal get killed. But again, I didn’t say anything, because he was my neighbor, and also because I didn’t think it would do any good. After all, the dog had already lost its tail from being hit by a car, and that hadn't prompted by neighbor to keep it confined.

I'd also made a few comments, here and there, which hadn't been well-received. Indeed, my neighbor had sent me an email saying he didn’t like the way I laid a guilt trip on him for letting his dog run free.

So this morning, when the ladies told me of Bear’s death, I remembered those unpleasant times and we all agreed that we should have turned him in to the Humane Society, because maybe that would have kept Bear from being killed. But we hadn’t, we said, because he was our neighbor, and besides, we all agreed, the three of us whose pets had been killed by his dog, that he was such a nice guy.

Such a nice guy, except for that irresponsible, seriously selfish streak.

The two ladies had the unenviable task of going to my neighbor's house at 7 this morning and telling him that they wanted him to put the dog down. The vet that had tended Bear said that when dogs kill other dogs, they move on to people next, and since the neighbor has grandkids, did he want to take that risk? The vet had phrased it somewhat more strongly, saying I want to meet the grandfather who would let this dog go near his grandkids.

The neighbor agreed to put his dog down, and we all felt bad, because we know he loves that dog, and who wants to see another pet die?

Yet through the sadness, the anger, the resentment, my own guilt for not having reported the neighbor back when Poochie was killed, I was also struck by the irony. My neighbor never wanted to do anything to restrict his dog’s freedom, and because of that, his dog lost all its freedom.


Anonymous said...

"I hear thousands of people went to Hanalei yesterday to mourn the passing of surfing legend Andy Irons, while closer to home, a neighbor was mourning the of her little dog................................................................
Great segue (???) Joan.

Anonymous said...

That is a sad story for all the animals involved.

I feel sad for animals as they are always innocent victims of human folly.

Anonymous said...

It is the Human that needs to be trained...the dog is not at fault.

Anonymous said...

"Great segue (???) Joan."

.....everyone's a critic

Anonymous said...

The way Kauai treats its animals ... to me, fixing that is more important than a bike path, a tvr, a night football game, a gay marriage, or legalizing pot.

Whether it sheerwater, a little dog, big dog, stray cat or a rooster, Kauai is right there with Afghanistan in the way it treats its animals. And for some reason, its turned into a "local" issue in some circles, when it is not a US v. local - its the rest of the civilized world v local.


So sorry about your little dog, and the others, and the person who bought a dog but was so uncaring as not to train or socialize it - just let it chase some instinct into the death penalty. Same lesson could be applied to a lot of kids too.

Anonymous said...

Hey that is family is local Hawaiian and we are generations of dog lovers, not to mention cats, horses, etc and would never mistreat them. There are many cultures in Hawaii and some view animals as functional. Not all are irresponsible pet owners. It should be judged on an individual basis.

Anonymous said...

You give more voice about an animal than to one of Kauai's own beloved people. RIP Andy Irons.

Anonymous said...

Dead dog, dead surfer, really?

Anonymous said...

If you want to read about Andy Irons, here's a few links:

Do you really need to read about it here?