Every one has a breaking point. It varies from person to person with some people being able to take much more than others. But no matter how brave a face one puts up, eventually, even the most resilient people break down. Of course, everyone has their ways of displaying this break down. Some people go into shock and become unresponsive to their surroundings. Some weep. Some channel it into some meaningless, repetitive task.
I recently reached a breaking point. I like to consider myself as one of those who can take more than most before breaking. However this easter that just passed was a trying one, and I reached a breaking point of sorts.
At home, we breed puppies, mostly Doberman-Pinschers. We’ve been breeding for more than five years. Even before that, we’ve had dogs. So I’ve been living with dogs for well over fifteen years. So I’ve seen dogs…lots of them. At a point, we had no less than eight dogs living in our house. A German Shepherd, a Rotweiller, two Doberman-Pinschers, a Doberman-Pinscher Ridgeback cross and three mongrels. You can imagine all the fights we had to break up between the males whenever the females were on heat.
So a side effect of having that many dogs is quite a few have died as well. Some of the stories are quite tragic, others weird, and some comforting (in a way).
One male died when in his desire to cross a female on heat, he managed to get his chain so twisted around his neck that he suffocated.
Another male got struck with some debilitating disease that slowly paralyzed him from the hind legs. It was so sad to see him loose less and less control of his legs every day. We put him to sleep.
One of the mongrels lived a full life and was more than 10 years (which is like 80+ in human years). Unfortunately he did not die a natural death. My mum accidentally reversed the car over him one morning. Thankfully I wasn’t at home that morning to see the gory sight.
My dad was really close to the Rotweiller we had. It got sick and we tried so hard to treat it. When that one died, I saw tears in his eyes.
The German Shepherd’s death was so so tragic. We’d been waiting for a couple of years for her to litter. Every attempt had been unsuccessful. Then eventually she did get pregnant. One weekend, my mum and dad went to spend the weekend alone. It so happened that was the weekend her water broke. That was a Saturday night. So I noted it and went to bed, expecting to see a beautiful litter the following morning. The following morning when I went to her cage she was dead. I was shocked. The autopsy showed that because she’d never given birth and she’d grown much older, her birth canal was not large enough to allow the puppies to be born. She’d died from internal bleeding while trying to give birth.
We’s also had a few who’ve grown old and died of old age.
Through all these deaths, I’ve been the official family undertaker. I must have buried no less than twenty or thirty dogs in my time. This figure includes puppies who died before being sold off. Because I’ve buried so many puppies, I’m not really attached to any of them. Burying them is just a job I have to do. I don’t get squeamish about it or feel bad. I just pick the dead dog, go and look for a site, dig a hole, stick the corpse in, cover the hole and walk off.
So back to the main issue of breaking points. On the Thursday before Good Friday, we had nine healthy Doberman-Pinscher puppies who had just been vaccinated. On the Tuesday after Easter Monday, we had nine dead Doberman-Pinscher puppies. Dead from the Canine Parvovirus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canine_parvovirus). The days in between were filled with trying to replenish the puppies’ bodily fluids, because they’d lost so much from diarrhea and vomiting. Unfortunately they all died one by one.
When I went to bury the first one, and I was digging the hole I hit something hard. I expected to remove a stone but instead what I saw was bones from one of the puppies I had buried months before. As I mentioned earlier, I usually just get the job done and go away. But this time, I was just frozen. I can’t even find words to describe what I was feeling at that time, but I just couldn’t continue digging. I stood there staring at the hole for a couple of minutes before eventually forcing my hands to complete the job. I did not bury any of the remaining puppies when they died.
You many laugh and call me a sissy, but believe me, like I said at the beginning…Everyone has a breaking point.