Yesterday was a sad, but hardly unexpected, day in the IronCityspy family. Gretta, the trusty family dog, finally succumbed to old age. I say “not unexpected” as Gretta was 16.5 years old, and if you know anything about larger dogs, the only logical explanation for her longevity is that she made some sort of wicked covenant with dark forces.
Gretta was a rescue dog; barely missing the proverbial chopping block. She was a wild and obviously mishandled puppy, coming to us with a variety of questionable behavioral issues. She was dog-aggressive, skittish around loud noises and new people, and all-together not what people think of when describing man’s best friend. Moreover, my parents’ laissez-faire approach to training her didn’t really help matters. But no matter; we either got her over or “managed” most of these issues and she ended up being a cherished, if imperfect, member of our family.
With her passing, I was reminded of another animal that had a very similar start to Gretta — but a life hardly as full. I am referring, of course, to Parrot, the pit bull mix who was tragically shot to death by a police officer some 4 months ago.
The story is so well known that it hardly seems worth retelling.DCspy wrote an excellent roundup of the events and our reaction to them — if you’d like to read it. As tragic as it was, I was buoyed by the fact there seemed to be such a genuine outrage over the needless death of an animal that really didn’t have many cards stacked in his favor at the start. Now before I get another deluge of ignorant comments saying how the facts are murky, I’d invite you to read this very emotionless article by the Post. In it you’ll find that everyone other than the police and the credulous owner of the dog that was attacked supports the claims made by the heroic adoption agency, Lucky Dog Rescue. And no, I don’t think I am being harsh on that owner as she made this idiotic remark:
…police did the right thing because at that moment, the dog, it wasn’t controllable.
Even if she was there and could see the events transpire (which she admitted she was not), she does not have the right to judge whether or not the dog should be put to death. End of story.
This brings me back to Gretta. Had just a few minor events occurred differently, her fate could have very likely resembled Parrot’s. I am a realist when it comes to shelters and understand that due to over-crowding, dogs and cats have to be put to sleep. These shelters (and the amazing people that man them) do the best they can, but they are grossly underfunded and have very limited resources — so this is a sad, but necessary reality. But if you have the necessary patience and temperament, I’d very much recommend adopting one of these animals. I can’t emphasize enough how rewarding a companion they can become. And while it still annoys and embarrasses me to all hell how little my parents stressed training Gretta, I can’t say enough about how glad I am they adopted her.
There are thousands more like Gretta and Parrot in our local kennels, so please consider visiting them. Or, if you are like me and have neither the space nor the ability to have an animal, they are always looking for volunteers. Parrot deserved better than he got, but having seen the great outpouring after his death, I am convinced more of his compatriots will end up like my Gretta.
Quick postscript, if anyone has any further information on the investigation behind Parrot’s shooting, please send it over to us. The internet trail has gone rather cold since October, so we’d love to get an update.