THE CHOPPER SAGA: PART THREE (In Which His Reign of Terror Comes to an End)


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Almost two years had passed since I’d begrudgingly welcomed a dragon breath, mangy furred, one-eyed shaky little mutt into our home.

We inherited Chopper from my in-laws who, in a final display of their wicked sense of humor, left us their smelly, obese, geriatric dog instead of a palatial estate.

I didn’t really want him.  After all, I had already welcomed three kids, a cat, and my devoted German shepherd mix, Buddy, into my heart and home.   There was no room for more.

But the little dog needed a place to live, and given his age and poor health, I figured it would only be for a few months anyway, so I agreed.

When he arrived at our home he was so obese he could barely walk.  I immediately put him on a diet and within a few months he was running and jumping.  The vet said that I probably bought him a few extra months.  Great.

I sincerely hoped that since I’m a dog person at heart, I would eventually warm up to Chopper, but sadly, that was not the case.  Months after he joined our family, I was no fonder of him than I was at the start.

Sure he looked like a cross between a hedgehog and a footstool, but that wasn’t the problem.   What bothered me was that Chopper didn’t give me any normal, dog-like affection, and there was a blankness behind his eyes . . . oops, I mean, eye.

My husband shared my disdain, but my kids and their friends did not.  They loved Chopper.  To them, that stinky little beast was the most wonderful dog on the planet.  “Chopper is so cute!” they would often say.

My youngest adored him, so she was the most irritated when I routinely offered Chopper to anyone who came to visit.  “He’s on sale today!  I’ll throw in a six month supply of food!”

She got especially upset when I joked about wrapping him in bacon so the hawks might find him more appealing.   (I guess I did cross the line with that one.)

My daughter couldn’t understand why I didn’t like Chopper so I tried to explain, “He’s just not warm or friendly, and besides, I already have a dog.”

“Well you have more than one kid and you claim to love us all the same – or is that just something you parents have to say?”

She had a point, so I promised to reform my ways, and reminded her that even though I joked about Chopper, I was the one who was actually taking care of my in-laws’ dog.  I fed him, bathed him, and spent what seemed like an eternity at night putting him to bed.

For her sake I made an effort to say nice things about Chopper and I even gave him a cute nickname, “Chop Chop,” hoping that would change how I felt.

But Chopper made my mission more difficult when he started losing control of his bowels and had repeated accidents in the house.

We had to move him permanently outside so we fenced off a part of the yard so he wouldn’t fall in the pool and then crated him on our enclosed patio at night.

A few months later we made another unfortunate discovery. Chopper had started pooping in his crate.  Though we’d clean it up each morning, the kids started to avoid him.  They didn’t want to pet a dog that had been sleeping in his own poo.  Frankly I couldn’t blame them.

It seemed inhumane to let him live out his remaining days in such a manner.  Something had to be done.

The vet agreed, and also said that Chopper was clearly in pain.  We hadn’t noticed but his constant shaking had gotten worse and the arthritis had spread to his front leg.  He was almost completely deaf and blind and his endless pacing was likely a sign of dementia.

We talked to the kids and together we agreed that Chopper deserved to die with dignity.  But weeks passed without us taking any action. It was just too hard.  Then Chopper developed a tumor on his front leg, making each step incredibly difficult.  Finally we made the call.

The little guy must have sensed what was going on because that morning somehow he managed to hobble about the yard looking like he was game to play.  We joked that you could probably remove three of his legs and he’d still find a way to get around.

Since I wasn’t feeling well, my husband offered to take him in, but I insisted on going.  We would do it quickly like removing a Band-Aid; pay the fee, and don’t look back.

The soft-spoken technician took hold of the leash and asked if I needed more time.

No.  You don’t understand.  He’s not really my dog, I felt I should explain.  But, I petted Chopper goodbye, just the same.

“Come on, lets go get some treats,” he said as he led him to the back.

“Don’t go Chopper!  It’s a trick!”  I almost yelled.

Then the lady at the counter said those two words that messed up my plan – those two words that always make everything worse.

“I’m sorry.”

I could barely sign my name before I had to turn and run.

“Stupid dog,” was all I was able to say.

We got back home and cleaned out Chopper’s crate, removed the fencing, and packed away the bowl that my eldest daughter made for him so many years ago.

Life would be easier now, I told myself.  No more messes, no more vet trips, no more endless goodnights.

But the yard looked so empty without his pen and without his toys and without him.

Stupid dog.  I guess you were mine all along.

Previous Chopper Posts

Chopper: Our New One-Eyed Mutt

Chopper Lives! And Lives and Lives and Lives . . .

Author’s Note:   As a sad sign of the decline in reading comprehension, the inability to detect nuance, and the rise of Fox News-type pack mob hysteria, it appears that the comments section on this post have been hijacked by an extremist group who have resorted to profanity and threats, the worst of which I have deleted.  

While I always welcome opposing opinions, I don’t have the  patience to deal with outlandish accusations and lies.  Therefore, I am regretfully closing comments on this post.

The sad thing is, these so-called dog lovers with their extremist views tarnish the name of legitimate animal protection groups, reducing the effectiveness of their efforts, and therefore putting all animals at greater risk.

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161 Comments

Filed under animals, dogs, Family, pets, Uncategorized

161 responses to “THE CHOPPER SAGA: PART THREE (In Which His Reign of Terror Comes to an End)

  1. Thanks for the tear-jerker this fine afternoon…and, I truly am sorry. I just love our little family members and, oh, how they break our hearts! :-)

  2. I should not have read that at work. I am like don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.

    My fiance found a dog in the desert last summer and brought him home. I actively looked for his owners, though his tail was broken in two places and he cried when men walked in the room. I wanted to believe that someone was missing him (not mistreating him), plus I already had my little buddy so I just acted like the found dog was a visitor.

    After about five months with Dingo, a beautiful little brown mutt I still kept him at arms length. I hardly petted him and then one day he got violently sick, vomiting and diarrhea like the Exorcist. I told Mike he needed to take Dingo to the vet and he promised me he would, but three days went by and he still “hadn’t found the time.”

    So, I took him in. He didn’t fight, he didn’t cry, he just looked up at me like ‘I sure hope this works.’

    He was given a shot to make him stop vomiting in the hopes that whatever was stuck in his system would be flushed out by the force of incoming food (or whatever) and a few days later he was his happy go lucky self, but I had changed. Mike jokes that it took him almost dying for me to love him, but it is entirely true… I had no idea how much I cared for him until I really thought he was going to die.

    I am very sorry for your loss, and Chop-Chop looks like a damn cute dog… even if he was old and stinky. No matter what I bet a million to one he loved the crap out of you (and your family).

  3. This is the only part of your story that I have read. So my reaction was a good belly laugh most of the way through. I have had to put two dogs down. Not easy but I have no regrets. They both had had good lives and were at the point of suffering. They seemed to know what was coming and were not unhappy about it. I held one in my arms when the injection was being given. It was a decent way to die.
    Leslie

    • Ahh – sorry for your losses. I think you really realize you’re an adult when you have to take an animal in – no matter what your age.

      • Those losses were so long ago that the pain has long since abated. I only have loving memories of these beautiful creatures. One never forgets.
        Leslie

      • I still cannot believe you didn’t go in WITH Chop Chop at the time of his death. Even when senile, they can feel fear. I’m so disappointed in you for this lack of caring.

    • Am happy you were there when they died, which is more than I can say for the author, no matter how “senile” he was. Even when senile, they can be afraid.

      • What a terrible thing to say after a wonderful story. Boy, you really missed the point. What part about helping to give a dog that no one wanted a good life did you miss? I’m an animal lover, too, but you pissed all over this story in order to be condescending. The way you phrased it tells me your comment is more about how YOU would have done something than caring about the dog. (“I’m so disappointed in you…”) Even when literate, one can be rude. Who cares if YOU’re disappointed? Just because there’s an Internet, it doesn’t mean your mean-spirited opinion matters.

  4. Wow what a story, funny and sad, made me laugh and made me cry! I feel sorry but also relieved at the same. You’re a great story teller, thanks for sharing.- Eva

  5. It is funny how your heart will betray you in the end, no matter how hard you try to disguise yourself!

  6. There is no rhyme or reason why our hearts find a way to love. Chop Chop rest securely in your heart now, maybe he was always there.

  7. Reblogged this on Peaceful City Life and commented:
    Dogs. They get you every time.

  8. Such a lovely essay, filled with humor, imperfection, and love ~

  9. Wow. I had a 14 year old Elkhound. I admit I got a bit resentful about the last 6 months.. because I became his ICU nurse! I was up during the night, administering pain meds, doing extra trips outside, because he couldn’t do the stairs any longer.. etc., I was a zombie! I scheduled on 3 different occasions to have our vet do a “house call” euthanasia. Each time my husband cancelled! He, who was getting plenty of sleep, I might add! Finally we did the deed. Clean up was painful as you describe… what to do with the extra bag of food, the special dish, his collar, dog tags, toys?
    and the empty house, no greetings when we came home. I wasn’t getting sleep.. I was still on “dog med schedule”.
    My hubby, procurer of all our canine pets started bombarding me with emails and links to web sites.. Two months later we were the owners of two more Elkhound pups! I was on the “mother of twins” sleep schedule for a few months but easier to cope given the previous prep! I have learned to nap with the pups in the afternoon! Nothing like cuddling with two furry warm bodies to revive my energy and mood.

    • They do become our children. Moo went to jump on the couch this a.m., her second place during her naptime, and she couldn’t get her backside up. She is 12 in May. While I’m trying to help her, she growls at me…but it’s all show. And I know I will be helping her until there is no more possible helping to be done….

  10. This got me all emotional!! I have loved and lost several dear dogs over the years and I know how sad it is to say goodbye however frustrating and smelly they are – RIP Chopper

  11. I lost the dog that I didn’t want, the one my ex rescued and then I got in the divorce, last November. And while I am so glad not to have an elderly, smelly, deaf, arthritic dog anymore, I miss her terribly. So I feel you.

    • it is bizarre isn’t it! Truly this was the smelliest, dirtiest thing – oh and I didn’t even mention the constant pooping as he walked – our whole yard was littered with tiny “treasures” but I still can’t look at that corner of the yard without thinking of him.

  12. My husband and I a softies when it comes to dogs too. I have two chihuahua’s that I love beyond words… finding a new way to spoil them seems to be my daily goal in my “Golden Years” of my life. Several years back my husband notice this poor stray dog that had been abandon sitting out in a nearby horse field during a thunderstorm. He tried to take pity on her, but her harsh life had her as afraid of humans as I am of snakes, and she bared her teeth and growled whenever my husband would attempt to come near her. So over the next year we daily would stop of leave her some dog food and talk kindly to her. It took almost a year of doing this before the dog I started calling ‘Lucky” would come up to us enough to allow us to give her a quick pat on the back, but if we attempt to pick her up she ran. Everyone else in the area told us we were crazy to so any kindness to this dog who was clearly and mean dog. Well in the fall we noticed she was pregnant and she is a little “Mini Pin” dog and the only male dogs we seen around her were big lab dogs. My husband took it up a notch and took a dog crate over and sat it in the field and would put a treat in it everyday for a month. We were finally able to get her into the crate and took her to our Vet. We paid to have her taken care of, she lost the puppies, but we saved her life. It only took my husband less than a week to house train her, and she bonded with him and would go everywhere he went and would howl anytime he left her. Our female Chihuahua “Taco” got along with Lucky but our male “Chico” did not,so we knew we had to find a other home for Lucky. He place a online ad and told this girls life story and said what a sweetie she had turn out to be. We found a new home for her from a local retired couple. The lady had had lost her therapy dog and wanted to get another dog to start training. She is in the process of training our Lucky to go into schools to help children with learning disabilities. Who would of thought that the stray dog everyone else deems a Mean Bad Dog, would end up touching the lives of children who need her as much as she does them. So its so worth it for us to show the kind acts of kindness we can for these “deemed” useless dogs and in return we find that our hearts grown in the process.

  13. Vijayan Haridas

    Every thing has to come to an end at some point, but you gave him the best even though knowing the final outcome.

  14. This is a very emotional post! I have lost several cats and dogs and I know how you feel :-(

  15. Really enjoyed this post! Follow for follow?! :)

  16. So sad… So sorry for the lost… Much love, Lor

  17. I lost my sweet Morgan 3 months ago. I’m still grieving.

  18. oh my word, that is so sad. funny how we sometimes only care when it’s too late. but you took care of Chopper so I’m sure he knew you cared

  19. It’s always the stupid one eyed nasty mutts that somehow worm their way into our hearts. Have a good cry, and don’t be surprised when you cry again.

    • Stupid, one-eyed nasty mutts? Whose fault is that? The senior dog who could not take proper care of himself or the person responsible for that care?

  20. RIP Chopper the smiley dog x

  21. dzawacki

    My family just put down our 13 year old chocolate lab last month. It was heartbreaking knowing that someone you loved for so long would never be around anymore.

    While I can’t say the same because my pooch was so old in my life, I can feel your pain for only knowing Chopper for a relatively short time. Somehow these wonderful creatures force their way into our hearts, whether we want them to or not, and it makes it one of the hardest things in the world to see them go.

  22. kellycasillas123488

    this is so sad i am crying right now

  23. I am sure your inlaws gave the dog over to you because they could not handle the last thing a human can do for his pet.

  24. Pets are the Time Capsules of our lives. Thanks for sharing Chopper’s story and congratulations on being FP’d. Your story is very moving and conjured up wonderful memories of our pets from the past.

  25. The love of my life, my 21year old tortoise shell cat, Baby had passed on, 6 years, ago. I still miss her, at times. She & I had gone through quite a lot together. May Chopper rest in peace!

  26. Dog. They just sit down in your home, look up with those eyes and claim a spot in your heart. Somehow, the less ‘perfect’ the dog, the stronger the hold on that center we refer to when saying words like ‘I’ and ‘me.’ (Sigh) I miss having one.

  27. Heart is breaking, tears…

  28. Chopper looks very happy in that photo. That’s real affection in his eyes.

  29. There are tears all over my laptop. Dammit!!

  30. As a teenager we had a rescue horse, “Blue”. A devoted, very large, ever hungry pet. My Ma feared and loathed all animals. Blue would crowd the fence all afternoon waiting for the school bus, Ma always forgot about him laundry day, he loved to reach over and pull the clean wash off the line into the mud. For three years we had chewed up towells and cursing, the morning Blue was to be put down, I caught Ma, leaning over the fence stroking his gallant black nose..we never spoke of it.

  31. This was a great story. Lots of mixed emotions here and it reminded me of my Uncle Murray who we also wrapped in bacon so the hawks would find him more attractive. But he’s still here and I’m disappointed because Chopper is not and I would have liked to hear more stories about the Chopster. Aloha.

  32. Wonderfully written. Anyone who has had a dog and seen it through the end gets it.

  33. So sorry for your loss. I believe everything happens for a reason, and Chop Chop was a special addition to your family. Thank you for sharing this time of your life. Cheers!

  34. Well written, I really enjoyed your post. Strangely enough I posted about my fur family today so it seems timely to read this. My girl is almost 10 years old now, she still seems as spry as a spring chicken, but I know how fast that can change. I truly dread the day that her health fails and try to enjoy every day I can with her as I know she will not be around forever, but both of my fur babies provide unconditional love. It is something I can always count on… when I come home they will always be excited and happy to see me :)

  35. rosemyworld

    aww, I totally understand. May Chopper rest in peace.

  36. Great story thanks for sharing

  37. I loved your story. It took me away for a few moments, and I enjoyed where it took me. Thank you.

  38. jennaintersimone

    This made me tear up at work. Beautiful post!

  39. I’ve got three little stinky terriers and love em to bits. I knew I shouldn’t have read your story without a Kleenex handy. ” cross between a hedgehog and a footstool” love it .

  40. What a wonderful, well told story– some things (and creatures) are funny and sad at the same time. Aw, Chopper. You capture him perfectly.

  41. Love your honesty. Sometimes relationships just don’t work, those are the stories no one wants to share. Thank you for sharing yours. & you’re a great mom for trying to like the dog. :) ~amy

  42. Awww….I was like this about my boyfriends dog…and it wasnt until she almost got put down that it hit me…damn I do care! Thanks for the lovely story! RIP dear Chopper

  43. I loved your story and I am sorry for your loss. My great aunt said, “you will always miss a pest.” She was talking about her husband. I think Chopper fits the same description.

  44. Something’s happening to my eyes!

  45. It’s amazing how much we realise about pets when they are suddenly not there any more – even the ones we thought we didn’t want! Im glad that in his passing you were able to accept he had wormed his way into the family. And vets don’t need explanations, we know the decision is hard enough for you without having to tell us…. Im glad that Chopper was able to live out his days with your family, sounds like he enjoyed it :)

  46. Chopper doesn’t appreciate your snark. A hedgehog and a footstool? He’s got his eye on you.

  47. Kristen, I hadn’t read the first two parts when this appeared on Freshly Pressed, but it was exactly what I needed today; my cat is likely going to be put down tomorrow, and I’ve been having really mixed emotions about it.

    • I’m glad it helped. It’s not easy even when you know it’s the right thing to do. What I told my kids was, are we keeping him alive for his sake or are we keeping him alive just for us – for the memory of how he used to be? If you know it’s the latter, that helps you decide.

  48. You are an amazing storyteller. I would have written “I had to put the dog I never wanted down. Now I’m sad.” Thanks for sharing, and I’m sure Chop-Chop loved you for taking such good care of him.

  49. RIP chop chop
    Dogs always make you love them, no matter how many things they eat or how much they remove
    Sorry for your loss, i wonder how long will it take for your youngest to overcome this?

  50. Great post. I have a cat i feel like that about. I know she is mine but I just haven’t connected yet.

  51. I haven’t read your other Chopper stories (I will later) but even so, I’m sorry to hear the Hedgehog footstool has passed away :(

  52. That was my favorite image too – “a cross between a hedgehog and a footstool.” Lovely writing. Glad to be introduced to you through Freshly Pressed.

  53. musselburghchess

    good story poor auld thing thanks for you kindness

  54. Gerri

    I had to put my first cat “Quaker”, down and it was the hardest thing ever. I cried and cried and when I watched her go to sleep…tearing up right now…she looked so very peaceful. Her pain was gone. Now I have another cat and two dogs…cause that wasn’t enough the first time around. They are our children and the more we love them, the more we miss them. Very sorry for your loss.

  55. So sad. I am sorry for your loss

  56. We had a rescue for 15 years. He grew as we did, from kids to teenagers to adults. His aging, though, was much swifter than ours; eventually, even though we loved him, we grew to resent his constant accidents, his inability to play, his short walks. But dropping him off to be put down was one of the hardest days of my life, and one of the few times my brother and I cried in front of each other without feeling the need to tease about it.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  57. My Dad is a dog lover, too. My Dad has taken that last drive many times. His thought on the process is something like…”Are you doing it for you, or, are you doing it for the dog?” It is always a tough decision. My Dad knows you made the right choice for Chopper. Have a great Sunday. -Cody

  58. Reblogged this on Animal Advocate and commented:
    Hmm. I think the least she could have done is offer to hold his paw as he passed.

    What do you think?

    Has anyone inherited or rescued a dog or cat that you never quite warmed up to? How do you make the best of it?

  59. This was 6 years ago when I retired and had to leave the country for a year. None of my friends agreed to keep my cats for me. I had three of them and had no money to pay for their keep, so I decided to take them to a cat shelter. There, they told me that cats as old as mine are usually put down when they are brought to the shelter because they are not adoptable.
    The oldest, Wolverine, a very sensitive cat looked at me, and “meowed,” and that “meow” sounded to me as “mum.” The second one, Calico, simply turned his back on me. The third one, Fluffy, could care less what I decided to do. I was devastated, but had no choice. I Left them there with a lot of provision, as if that would make me feel better. I can still see Wolverine’s face today pleading with me, and it breaks my heart. I vowed never again to keep animals, as I travel a lot.
    I can feel your pain.

  60. I got fond of chopper just reading this and the parting was sweet sorrow.

  61. Well written piece…I love animals and especially dogs. We ended up with a cat like your chopper, except it was one of those animals from our kids who moved from home.

  62. A touching post. And a great website that I just discovered today. I’ve been converted – I am now a Follower! I love your story choices and sensibilities. Other than using the same WP Theme, I think you and I have a lot in common. I hope you check out my site sometime (including a recent post “Single Guys With Dogs.”) And congratulations on Huffington. That’s so great.

  63. Strange how the darn cast outs become attached in unattended ways.

  64. So sorry for your loss. Elder dogs are a special heartbreak as they slide toward what we know must happen. I’m starting to write about my own special case: a retired sled dog…when I didn’t want a dog, either. But there’s infinite space in our hearts, isn’t there?

  65. :*( Stupid dogs do tend to make their way into our hearts.

  66. I had a Chopper once. Didn’t attach to the damned thing until he was gone. I remember how that felt. Really great job telling your story.

  67. Hedgehog and a footstool – hilarious! GREAT read!

  68. Thank you for the story. Miss mine, all of them, too.

  69. I know its been a while and maybe you are over it, but whatever you did was right for Chopper. Maybe you think otherwise but i feel you took good care of him. I had Tyson and was there when he breathed his last and all i could think was that i could have been more with him during his last days.
    I am really sorry for your loss and i think such things teach us lessons of a lifetime which no human or book can teach.

  70. What a heart warming story, some of us have been through this and know how you feel, we seem to attract every stray that come about.

  71. I just lost my best friend, a cat, and am currently crying in the library! Getting weird looks… so sorry, and I hope chopper has many doggy friends in heaven!

  72. Thank you so much for sharing this, Kristen. I’m sure it’s still hard. I lost my beloved Biscuit almost ten years ago now, and there are still days when I go back home and expect her to waddle up to me and beg for a treat. She was the sweetest, most gentle creature I had ever met in my 17 years when she was “put to sleep,” and now I am almost 27 with a fur-baby of my own who is nearly five, and I’m beginning to acknowledge a future without Lucy in it. It’s incredible how they worm their way into our hearts. I know Chopper, wherever he is, is grateful to have spent his last years with a loving family.

  73. I’ve nominated your blog for an award. For more info, please see http://featherandfurphotography.wordpress.com/

  74. Tear jerking moments! My family actually adopted a dog somewhat like Chopper. She came into our little house when I was in 3rd year high school and she was fat, stinky and had a lot of lice but my mom still adopted her and loved her like she was ours. Now, she’s a little old with a stinky breath but nevertheless she’s been a huge part of my family. She loves to play and she still protects our little home.

  75. I have a question. I feel for you and for Chopper, but I have to ask…did you let the vet put Chopper down without staying by his side? EVERY pet whose owner has made that decision DESERVES to have their loved ones by his or her side when they pass. As I said, although I feel for you, I feel for Chopper, too, and if you let him go without being there for him, I hate to say it, but that was a cowardly act. If you were there, then that’s awesome, but your article made it sound like you turned him over to the vet and scrammed. Just saying.

  76. Kathie

    I’m not sure after I readh this if you were saying this lovingly, sarcastically, or with love for this this dog in some sadistic way. I have been a dog owner my whole life and I have had dogs that make Chopper look like a “dream”. How could you be so cruel–if you didn’t want the dog at least you could have found another home for him with some who would have cared for him. Because believe it or not–there are people who have compassion in their hearts. Not everyone is looking for the “perfect dog”–it doesn’t exist. Just like people-we have faults, but deserve to be loved inspite of them–just like Chopper deserved to be loved. Lastly, how “heartless” of you to take him to the vet and not atleast stay with him–that is the cruelest thing anyone could do. This is the post pathetic article I have every read. I would be ashamed to post it. And one more thing–my dogs–imperfect as they are– have brought me some of the greatest moments of love in my life–I feel sorry for people who will never get that.

    • Agreed. Though I sense that the article is about how Chopper, as disagreeable to the author as he was, grew on her. But to abandon the dog(who was, by the author’s own admission was almost completely deaf and blind) to the vet to be put down with complete strangers boggles the mind. I’d expect that from children who haven’t yet learned to deal with tragedy, but this is an adult. Imagine how terrified Chopper was, smelling all the strange smells and hearing all the strange sounds and the only familiar thing to him just walked out the door to leave him to his fate. Sad and tragic.

      • I appreciate everyone’s kind words about Chopper. Maybe I didn’t make clear is that the vet said he was likely senile, suffering from dementia, and deaf and blind. In his last weeks he had little if no awareness of his surroundings – so I really don’t think he was terrified of anything. Maybe I didn’t convey that properly?

      • It doesn’t make any difference whether he was senile or not, he could definitely still be scared around strangers. YOU should have been there. How terrible of you. We have rescued dumped/stinky animals for over three decades, found them good homes, and if we couldn’t, they happily stayed with us. I was ALWAYS there at the end. Shame on you.

    • I agree, to the originator of this article–Can you imagine what this poor animal went thru when it lost its original owners? maybe that’s why he was not as affectionate as you think he should have been, although you get what you give. Despite his age he still needed love and attention, then banishing him to the outdoors and a crate, dont you think something else could have been done to help him, after all you too will get old, imagine being treated this way.. and then to leave him at the vet rather than stay with him til the end, can you imagine how scared he was… too bad you couldnt have opened your heart and made his end of life years more enjoyable…yes you took him in, fed him but sounds like too you didnt really go out of your way to let him know he was a valuable member of the family and loved no matter what!!!

      • Ms. Brakeman, I doubt anyone could speak for the dog. That being said, it is a known fact that dogs are empathic and feed off of humans and their tones of voice and actions. Even senile humans and, by extension, animals, have feelings and can smell things. To be overwhelmed with strange, unfamiliar smells while being put down would be unsettling at the least, terrifying at the worst. Besides, no matter what his condition, it was irresponsible to abandon him to be alone on his final journey. You’re a responsible adult, you should have known better.

  77. Matt

    Chopper’s life truly mattered. Thanks for sharing.

  78. Chopper got lot’s of attention right up to the very end. He was well-loved by my parents who took him in as a Senior For Seniors adoption, and well loved by this family. If you have followed Kristen’s trilogy of Chopper, you can see that he won her over, as well as everyone who came to the house and lavished attention on Chopper. Our children loved him, and made his trip down the backstretch as smooth and comfortable as possible. Some of you might be forgetting that we took Chopper into our home after both my parents passed suddenly, one after the other, and he missed them intensely. We nursed him back to health and provided a good home for him, and it was Kristen’s nurturing that provided him with as comfortable a transition as possible. I would also like to add that the Vet we took Chopper to, who has cared for all our pets, was very kind, considerate, and thoughtful, and the technician who took him was gentle, friendly, affectionate, and said to Chopper, “Come on Chopper, let’s go get something to eat and play with some toys,” so we felt comfortable that he was in good hands.

    • While I can and do appreciate your taking him in and caring for him to the point of winning him over and making him comfortable until the end…the fact remains that, at his end, he deserved to be with those whom he felt most comfortable with as he crossed over. Anything less is a fail. Family members deserve that and, I’m just guessing here, Chopper was a family member, yes? To own a pet and be there for them up to but not including the end is not doing right by the pet. They deserve better.

      • And I appreciate your opinion. But I think it’s subjective. When my father died, two of my siblings left the hospital before he passed because they knew they couldn’t handle the image of him dying forever etched in their minds. Many people I know who’ve had to do this say they could not be there with there pet for that reason – they couldn’t do it. I choose not to judge them.

    • I’m not really sure why you get to judge, Scott. You weren’t here. You weren’t caring for him. You weren’t helping. We did what we felt was in the best interests of both Chopper, and our family. Back when I was a kid, our family dog Pooch reached the end game. When the time came to take her to the vet, my Dad brought me out to the car to say goodbye. This dog, who never got in the car willingly yet did this time, who had suffered so much near the end, was calm, relaxed, and seemed to know what was about to happen. She reassured me with her looks that everything was okay, and this was a good thing, and I believed her. So did Chopper.

      • Well, Mr. Brakeman, I get to judge for 3 main reasons…#1-I have an opinion, #2-that opinion has been forged, among other things, by years(most of my life, in fact) of being an animal advocate that ran the gamut from volunteering at animal shelters and veterinarian offices as a child to, as an adult, being a pet foster, to working with several national networks to save condemned animals whose sole mistake was being taken to kill shelters instead of no-kill shelters, to accompanying law enforcement on dogfighting ring and puppy mill busts. I have also, as an adult, assisted several veterinarians’ offices over the years when they are tasked with euthanizing owners’ pets. I have been there with pets whose owners chose to be present and those whose owners, like you, chose not to be present(as is certainly your right). Hundreds of pets. Of those hundreds of euthanized pets, I do not recall a single one that, upon entering the room or office where the euthanasia was to take place, didn’t react with utter panic and abject terror. They know. And I include those pets who were considered too sick to care or too senile to realize what was happening. The thing I do recall, however, is that almost without exception, those pets that had one or more of their owners present at the time they passed were comforted to a noticeable degree. I know that when they passed, they knew they were with a loved one or loved ones. Maybe, as I read your and your wife’s most recent posts, that’s how your families were raised and not your fault. But we’re talking about responsible adults here, not kids. Again, I am sorry for your family’s loss, but, subjective or not, to decide to have a family member like a pet euthanized and then leaving them alone with strangers at the end is truly sad and tragic…and wrong. People can spin and slice and dice it however they want to help with digesting it, living with it and being able to sleep at night, but it’s wrong. And as for my third reason for being able to judge, surely your wife wasn’t naive enough to think that everyone who weighed in on her blog entry would have nothing contrary to say…if that were the case, then she shouldn’t have included her blog site at the bottom of the Chopper article that was in the Huffington Post. If someone puts themselves out there, they should be prepared to have some people take issue with some of the things that are published. I would venture to say that several of the people who posted in support of the article didn’t realize that Chopper died alone with strangers. I do not wish vitriol or negative comments towards you or your wife, I just hope that anyone who reads this exchange that ultimately has to make the decision to euthanize any of their pets will decide to give those pets the respect and honor of being there with them when they pass so they pass with their loved ones by their side. They deserve that at the least. They may not be everything to you, but you are everything to them.

  79. I had to put my Beagle down, and when he got the shot, his eyes filled with tears, as old and senile as he was, as much as he hurt. He looked at me as if to say “I’m sure gonna miss you.” I could almost feel it. I held his body until it was cold, I cried in the vet office for half an hour and left crying. If you don;t have that level of love for a dog, to care for it like it was a child, please don’t get another one. We are all they have.

  80. Emily

    I’ve only read this article (apparently two more?) and since this one made me as upset as it did…I won’t read the others. Scott is 100% correct…Chopper deserved better at the end. Pet owners that won’t stay with their pets for his/her last journey are up there with dog fighters on the bad pet owner list. My first dog recently passed and I couldn’t even imagine the regret I would have if I hadn’t been there for her. She found peace before she left, but I’ll bet Chopper didn’t. Not to mention how this article portrays your treatment of him. If you didn’t want to take care of his senior issues he should have been sent to a rescue (*gasp* there are rescues specializing in seniors) and properly cared for.

  81. Jill

    My first response was cut off by this site, probably a good thing because I had nothing nice to say about your story. I don’t see how anyone can find anything sweet or caring about what you wrote. Poor chopper is in a much better place without you. Sad that he had to live out his final moments the way he did. I hope someone writes about you the way you talked about him. A helpless innocent creature that looked to you for love in his final moments. People on this thread might want to float your boat with saying this was sweet…but you have hundreds of people hating you on Facebook. Horrible way to end my night, but it makes me feel better that he is in a much better place…without you.

  82. melanie

    I feel really bad for Chopper after reading this story. So, basically you took this dog in and did nothing but “put up with” him. Sorry, but he deserved more. He was most likely grieving the loss of his owners. When he needed his family the most, when he was getting sick, you put him outside, to live all by himself? How could you? You should be ashamed of yourself. To say you are a “dog person” and then do these things to Chopper? You are not a dog person. A dog person has compassion towards a helpless animal. A dog person doesn’t put him out just because he is showing signs of old age. I foster dogs all of the time. Dogs who pee and poop all over my house because of one reason or another. I love that dog even more. I show him/her that no matter what, they have a safe and loving place. I think this story is sad. And leaving Chopper along on the day he leaves this earth? I pray that you aren’t so lonely on your last day.

    • Um, hello, dogs live outside all over the world, happily. Was I to leave an incontinent dog who had lost control of his bowels in my home overnight and while we are at work? Really – is that what you would do? I would hate to be a guest in your home if that is the case. That dog was obese and near death when I took him in and cared for him by putting him on a diet and treated his illnesses when he was sick. The vet said I likely added two years to his life with my care. You people cray cray

      • Chopper had a nice yard and another dog to play with, plus my husband and three kids who regularly also played with him. Yes, once he lost control of his bowels and became incontinent we put him outside during the day in a temperate climate. At night he slept in a crate in a covered enclosed patio, safe from the elements and predators. This was a fine arrangement until the time that he started waking covered in feces. We let this go on for awhile until it became simply impractical and absurd to clean him each morning. Then, the vet said he was in pain from his arthritis and had dementia. If anything, we waited too long to put him down, past what would have been more humane. While it is fine for readers to take issue with my comic tone, I must take issue with the hatred and venom that has been hurled at me. I took care of and nurtured back to health a 17-year-old dog who would have been instantly put down if I had taken him to a shelter or even a rescue organization. He was that obese and ill. He had a nice life with us, contrary to your assumptions and accusations to the contrary.

  83. chelle dawn

    Maybe you should check out all the comments to your story on the Life With Dogs website.

  84. You are a piece of shit…Chopper would have been better off NOT knowing you. You are obviously NOT a dog person and belong in that special place in Hell with all the other animal abusers. You abandoned Chopper to the backyard to live a lonely life. You didn’t even care enough to notice that his arthritis. This isn’t a sweet story.

    If you had truly been a dog person or even someone with empathy and compassion…then you would have re-homed him. I hope your children do to you what you did to Chopper. Abandon you and then let someone else take care of you in your final moments…they would probably be better off without you too.

  85. Jodi

    You are a horrible person who should never be allowed to own animal. This story is disgusting! Heartless bitch!

  86. danusia

    do you think you’re a writer? you’re NOT. terrible text, terribly written, with a terrible story. i feel so sorry for that dog. kristen, you suck as a writer and as a dog owner.

  87. danusia

    by the way, the fact that the dog was not friendly with you and that your in-laws died and left you nothing REALLY does say A LOT about the kind of person you are. you should be more careful when telling stories, these ugly things would be better off kept as a secret. but again, you are not a good writer.

  88. Rachel

    What a terribly written story. Your story is bad and you should feel bad. There is nothing heartwarming about this story nor is there anything to laugh about. No where was this even funny. You talked bad about the dog till the very end and now that he’s gone you think about him? Oh please. You’re a horrible writer.

  89. Jill

    And after looking at your picture, clearly the vet took the wrong animal back to be put down. I hate to have to talk this way about someone, but you’re the one who decided to try and be funny and write a horrible story about this poor baby chopper. Take it as a sign, chopper wasn’t “friendly” and “loving” to you because he could sense the type of person you are. Thank you for sharing with everyone what trash you are. Stay away from animals.

    • Wow that was really hurtful Jill.

      • I agree that was a rather harsh and uncalled for post among several unsavory ones. There are ways to get points across that travel a higher plane of communication than that…just as there are ways to travel a higher plane of communication than calling someone “cray cray” because they don’t agree with the way someone handles a situation.

      • Touche (or however it’s spelled) Yes _ stooped to the LCD. Just wanted to say Scott, that I appreciate that you are strong in your conviction that all pet owners should watch their dogs be euthanized, but did not resort to name-calling to make your point. I always expect healthy debate, but not the hate.

    • blockjill thenerveofsomepeople

      It’s Chopper not chopper “Jill”. Have some respect. What, ia extending your pinkie towards the Shift key too much for you? You can’t give Chopper even that much effort? If you can’t give a soul like Choppers even the tiny respect of capitalization, then you’re a horrible person and I hope you never rescue a dog.

  90. Part of me gets why you chose not to be there at the end as not everyone can handle death live and in person. As a pet owner though the overall tone of the article was disturbing, and especially the way you talked in front of him, even at the end. Dementia or not, animals can sense how a person feels about them. It was no wonder he showed you no affection! You get what you give!

    • I agree that some of the comments here are a little uncalled for, but from my own personal experience. I had a cat die as I slept and just thinking about him dying all alone haunts me to this day.

    • melanie

      I agree Elsadora. I would never say those hurtful things to my children, so why should I say them to my dog…and why should I say them to my dog in front of my children?