Over the last few days Harambe, the majestic gorilla from the Cincinnati Zoo, has dominated the news cycle. A beautiful animal in the prime of its life was sadly, but necessarily shot dead to save the life of a three year old child that had wandered into the gorilla’s enclosure. The consensus is that the gorilla had every right to live and it is a tragedy that he is dead. But the story of Harambe has made me think, what about animals that want to die? Progressives in this country are always pushing animal rights and right to die laws for human beings, but who will speak up for animals that want to end their own lives? I have to decided to take on this sure to be controversial idea to help my dog Cookie, who clearly wants to die, but is forced to continue living by a society obsessed with “doing the right thing” for dogs. Cookie is a mixed breed dog about 1.5 years old and she just wants to end her life.
According to the journal Science, dogs think about suicide 48 times a day and try to end their lives at least once per week, whether it’s chewing down on toys until they become choking hazards or running into traffic or “curiously approaching” dangerous animals. We have all added our own human spin on these behaviors, but they sometimes point to a clear desire to die. That is where Cookie’s story begins.
Cookie was found abandoned in a Kentucky trailer park, presumably giving up hope for the coal industry’s comeback that Donald Trump is promising. She was malnourished and full of mange. She was sent to a shelter with a high kill rate, but unfortunately for Cookie, her various breeds of dogs, none of which were Labrador or Golden Retriever made her look like a mixed breed golden lab puppy. So instead of being able to leave this cruel world her “golden privilege” led her to be saved by a Golden Retriever rescue organization. Less than 2 months later she was sent on a 14 hour van ride to NYC, which she has morbidly referred to as “The Middle Passage,” for her new life with me.
While in New York the hints came quickly and often. Constant urination in my apartment. She might as well have been Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator screaming “Kill Me!!!! Do it!!!! I’m heeeyaaaaaagghh!” But instead I selfishly sought advice on how to condition her behavior and the urination basically stopped.
I began to take Cookie to the local dog park. At first she humored me by playing with other dogs and running around for exercise. She even developed some solid muscle tone, but eventually she began to get bullied by other dogs and would often just retreat into a corner with a scared look on her face. Most people just “awwww”ed at her, but i started to realize what she was actually saying to me: “Please Kill Me.”
I didn’t want to believe at first, but then her messages became clearer. Her Thunder Jacket did nothing. Her face during bath time said “drown me” and all she would do was lie around all day, every day, often ignoring her toys. Then there was the day I caught her trying to choke herself to death by chewing on a tennis ball. I felt like Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby at this point.
Then I woke up earlier this week and realized, what is more progressive and respectful of the wishes of an animal than to respect its wish to end its life respectfully? The messages have been clear and it would be selfish and cruel of me not to respect them. Just this morning I saw her chewing her own paw, and she often chases her own tail, as if to say, “If these humans won’t do it I will have to hunt myself down.” I am done fighting to preserve society’s old fashioned rules of who gets to decide when a dog should live or die. I stand up today for Cookie’s right to end it all. No more NYC traffic. No more cruel dogs at the dog park. No more treats and toys as opiates for the pain of a life not worth living anymore. As tragic as the death of Harambe was, I think the only thing worse would be letting an animal live that clearly wants to die. Donations for Cookie’s memorial service can be sent to email@example.com on paypal. Seeking to raise $10,000 to both honor her struggle and raise awareness for other animals who want to die with dignity. #DignifiedDeathForCookie on Twitter