It’s been more than a year since I picked up my dog and loaded him into the back of my wife’s car who took him to “the farm” to ostensibly live out his days. “Ostensibly” is a great word because it means “apparently or purportedly, but perhaps, not actually”…

I had to load him in because he was not able to jump in on his own although he could jump better than he could see and he could see better than he could hear. Indicative of his age, he seemed to have lost the connection between relieving himself and looking for and finding a good place to relieve himself, as healthy dogs tend to do. He was not in ideal condition.

If he were human he would have definitely qualified for Social Security disability benefits but of course he would first have to prove citizenship which would be hard without any supporting paperwork. He would not have been able to produce even a utility bill in his name to show where he resided since he seldom paid for anything and never carried any cash. He was indigent like the adjective meaning poor, needy, penniless and insolvent but not like the noun implying vagrant, homeless, derelict or bum.

Indeed he lived like a king, or more accurately as a “king-slave” whose overseers fussed over him, attended to his every need providing free room, board, health care, daily treats, travel expenses, an exercise program and security. Security included the collar and chain which prevented him from running into the road where he did not understand the danger and at the same time restrained him like a prisoner for his own benefit.

We had a complicated relationship. At times I would let him off his chain and yell out for him to run for his freedom. I would say, “Run, boy! Run as fast as you can. Run to Pennsylvania: the most dog-friendly state in the nation. Find happiness in freedom!” But the dog would look at me as if I was scolding him and dart into his dog house for protection and the familiarity of the complex odor that seemed to live there with him.

As a good citizen and following the logic of people who give advice on these kinds of things, I sent him to the vet and had him “fixed” in his youth which, let’s be honest, is a euphemism for having him broken, really badly broken.

That was early in his life before he ever had the chance to establish a meaningful canine relationship. He did have a tire swing we called Blackie that he flirted with and was occasionally observed to touch inappropriately but even though she tempted him with her pendulous motion she was fickle and never still when he attempted to use her for what dogs tend to use tire swings for.

But as an old tire, Blackie had already been mounted one too many times and, like the dog, was worn out and in no condition for her rubber to meet the road. That is why she now hung by a rope from a tree branch, swaying in the wind and offering no real satisfaction outside of constant companionship to the dog who was tethered to the same tree.

After the “tutoring session” with the vet, the dog was never the same. He lost interest in Blackie and never knew the pleasure of offspring. In balance, he never had the responsibility of adding any of his progeny to his car insurance policy and never had to help fill out college applications. His eyes, however, spoke to me that he wanted to be whole. Perhaps it was the right thing to do for the planet but the wrong thing to do to your dog. I apologized to him almost every day in a hundred different ways.

In the end when he could no longer romp or threaten the postman, I said goodbye and sent him off to the farm. The dog had no living will, no instructions on what to do in this kind of situation and he left his fate up to the humans; something that we must all avoid because humans might look like they know what they’re doing but are actually all stumbling around in the dark.

So I am done with dogs. They fill you with happiness, amusement and moral conundrums. I have enough moral dilemmas to sort out without having to create more for myself in addition to buying dog food.

Pigs. Now there’s an idea.…