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Again, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Claims Hunters are Victims

Photo by Patrick Doll

Photo by Patrick Doll

One cannot take pleasure in killing and at the same time bitch about being bullied. But we’ve come to expect that kind of pants-soiling whining from the brain-dead thugs at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Earlier this month, that wretched gang of twisted monsters rushed to the defense of a dim-witted terrorist named Jeff Thomason, who can’t understand why anyone would react adversely to news that he savagely murdered a mako shark.

As they are wont to do, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance president and CEO Nick Pinizzotto and his goose-stepping henchmen published a petulant complaint titled “Sportsman Harassed by Anti-Hunters After Legal Mako Shark Hunt,” which presents Thomason and his bloodlust-full ilk as victims and animal-rights advocates as ill-informed “extremists” (Pinizzotto’s word).

In their word-tantrum, the assholes at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance defend Thomason’s legal right to kill mako sharks and feign alarm that animal-rights advocates would take to social media to wish the bastard ill.

Sonke Mastrup, the California Fish and Game Commission’s executive director, was quoted in the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s word-tantrum as saying, “Bullying people is never appropriate.” This from the head of a group that serves as a state-sanctioned death panel. Mastrup’s inclusion of the word “people” betrays the institutionalized arrogance that keeps other species under constant threat.

One cannot facilitate and regulate killing and at the same time profess to be anti-bullying. Assigning oneself the role of victim — while an actual victim hangs from a hunter’s scale — is the lamest and most pathetic trick in the PR playbook.

Obviously, the self-righteous fiends at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance are full of shit. They and their despicable constituents are the ones with the deadly weapons and the psychopathic desire to use them.

Slaughtered Deer on Display in Syracuse “Art” Exhibit

Photo by Greg Thompson/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo by Greg Thompson/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s common for art galleries to receive a fresh coat of paint between one exhibit coming down and another being installed. Come October 20, the Syracuse University Art Galleries are going to need a hazmat-suit-requiring floor-to-ceiling deep cleaning to remove any and all traces of the Neanderthals who might have visited the place to see a repulsive and inanely titled show called Deer Dear. Drool will need to be removed from gallery walls and traces of human flesh will need to be peeled off floors on which visitors’ knuckles dragged.

Deer Dear is a collection of deer skins used as canvases and video-projection screens. The “artist” behind Deer Dear is a troglodytic mouth-breather named Tammy Renée Brackett, who chairs the digital media and animation department at the State University of New York’s Alfred State College. A description of Deer Dear on the Syracuse University Art Galleries website reads, in part: “Brackett’s recent work combines the digital and natural world to explore humans’ relationship with animals. … The exhibition focuses on the White Tailed Deer, posing questions about population control, loss of habitat, and mortality.”

Better — and less-insultingly — said, the “exhibit” celebrates mankind’s breathtaking arrogance. “Population control” — like “wildlife management” — is a euphemism for “sanctioned slaughter.” Deer Dear doesn’t pose “questions about population control, loss of habitat, and mortality.” Rather, it depicts the bloodlust and brutality that accompany the monstrous notion that man is entitled to hold dominion over other species.

If the “exhibit” raises any question, it is: What kind of rational and compassionate person would promote or be drawn to the work of terrorists?

The victims whose body parts are exploited in Deer Dear were cut down by motor vehicles and by hunters, including Brackett herself. According to an article published in The Syracuse Post-Standard, “One of her pieces of work, ‘Good Shot, Bad Shot,’ is simply two tanned hides given to her by hunter friends. … One shows a hole indicative of a heart shot in which the deer most likely died quickly. The other, a ‘gut shot’ further back on the hide, is indicative of a shot in which the deer died a longer, more painful death from the hunter’s bullet.”

Needless to say, the deer deserved better, in life and in death.

The mission of the Syracuse University Art Galleries “is to enhance the cultural environment of its community and surrounding area.”

Obviously, my idea of culture is quite different from that of David Lake Prince, the organization’s associate director and collections curator.

In a video on The Syracuse Post-Standard’s website, Prince says, “We hope that Tammy Brackett’s exhibition, Deer Dear, attracts a broad audience of both people that enjoy art and hunting.”

Clearly the evolved members of the Syracuse University community deserve better than to have their “cultural environment” enhanced by the public presentation of Brackett’s disgusting trophy collection.

How Can Hunter Live With Himself After Shooting, Killing Brother?

Photo by Leupold James/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo by Leupold James/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I was working on a novella called Baptism by Piranha when the red phone rang. It was my good friend Monty Gelstein, calling to update me on his search for a way to partially light the darkness.

“There was a fatal hunting accident in northeastern Utah over the weekend, and all I can think about are the bastards who live to hunt again,” Monty said, sounding despondent.

“You’ve got to try to focus on the positive,” I told him. “Let’s use the hunting accident in Utah as an example. Tell me about that incident.”

“Two brothers set out to murder pronghorn and one ended up shooting the other in the head,” he explained. “I mean, I’m psyched that one of the brothers won’t be terrorizing wildlife anymore, but the other — the shooter — he’s still out there, armed and murderous, with nothing to stop him from exercising his savage bloodlust.”

“You’ve got to be able to recognize that thanks to this incident the drooling class is down a member,” I said. “And any way you measure that the result is positive.”

“It’s just so hard to celebrate when I know the slaughter continues,” he said.

“What would have made the incident in Utah worth celebrating?” I asked.

“I’d be a pretty satisfied dude had the two brothers gunned each other down,” Monty said, “or had the shooter decided he couldn’t live with what he’d done and offed himself right then and there.”

“There!” I shouted. “That’s it!”

“That’s what?” Monty asked, less-than enthusiastically.

Hope,” I told him, with as dramatic a delivery as I could muster.

“Where?” Monty asked, as if literally looking around.

“We can hope that the surviving brother catches a bullet himself, the next time he sets out to murder animals,” I reasoned.

“Do you know the odds of that happening?” he snapped.

I was pretty sure he had those numbers at his disposal. Still, undaunted, I pressed on.

“We can hope that the surviving brother takes his own life,” I said. “That’s certainly within the realm of possibility. And there’s nothing stopping you from encouraging him. That would be a super-constructive exercise, don’t you think?”

Several seconds of silence passed before Monty abruptly announced the end of our conversation.

“I’ve got to go,” he said, his voice more spirited. “I’m going to call the surviving brother.”

I hung up the phone and created a Google Alert that will let me know when Monty has successfully convinced the surviving brother to take his own worthless life.

Hunter Falls to His Death; Oh, How I Wish He’d Been Pushed

Photo by Robert Shepherd

Photo by Robert Shepherd

If a hunter falls off the side of a mountain, does anybody hear him scream on the way down? It’s certainly a sound that would be music to my ears. And if I aim my ears to the west and listen very, very carefully, I can almost hear the echo of a vicious bastard named Theodore James Leach singing his final, terrified song.

According to an Associated Press report published in the Coloradoan, Leach recently took a well-deserved and fatal header off North Maroon Peak, in Colorado’s Maroon Bells, shortly after brutally murdering a mountain goat.

Needless to say, I’m glad Leach is dead. I only wish he’d fallen before he had a chance to kill. It would be much easier to celebrate his demise had the incident unfolded this way:

Theodore James Leach, a 42-year-old Neanderthal from Littleton, Colorado, was hunting mountain goats in the Maroon Bells on Sunday when one of his would-be caprine victims bravely stood his ground and pushed Leach off the side of the mountain. According to hikers who found him, the last thing the quickly expiring savage saw was an unrepentant mountain goat staring down at him with an expression that said, “I hope it hurt, motherfucker.”

Raise Money to Protect Animals, Let Wounded Hunters Die

Photo by Connormah

Photo by Connormah

Nothing would fill me with rage more than being stuck at an intersection where a bunch of mouth-breathing troglodytes were raising money to help the “victim” of a hunting accident. A few weeks ago, in Etowah County, Alabama, the community set out to do just that, in an effort to help pay a worthless thug’s medical bills.

On September 4, The Gadsden Times reported that a fundraising “roadblock” would be set up a few days later at a busy intersection, where friends of a terrorist named Cody Kuechle planned to solicit donations from trapped motorists.

A story published in The Gadsden Times on September 2 tells us that Kuechle was in “serious condition” at an area hospital after being shot the previous day by a goose-hunting buddy who lost his footing and accidentally discharged his lead-filled phallus. It’s too bad, obviously, that the shooter didn’t take himself out in the process of gunning down Kuechle. And it’s certainly too bad that the latter survived the incident.

Had he not, it dawns on me, his friends in Etowah County probably would have set up a fundraising roadblock to collect cash for the bastard’s funeral. Imagine getting stuck in that traffic and knowing what the holdup was. My road rage would have totally boiled over — unless, of course, I found a constructive way to deal with Etowah County’s drooling class.

And on that front I think there’s still time to give Kuechle and his water-headed pals something to think about. I think it’s worth looking into organizing a fundraising roadblock of our own. Ours, naturally, would be an effort to raise money to help protect other species from violent assholes like Kuechle. Maybe we’d get lucky and prevent an ambulance from delivering a wounded hunter to an emergency room in time to save his ugly life.

Monty Gelstein’s Haiku No. 8

Monty Gelstein's Haiku No. 8







A collection of Monty Gelstein’s haiku can be found here.

Hunter Suicide Encouragement Task Force Forming

Photo by Monty Gelstein

Photo by Monty Gelstein

The Daily Maul is looking for a few fully evolved psychological ninjas to join a Hunter Suicide Encouragement Task Force, a group that will be dedicated to convincing bloodlust-full members of the drooling class to take their own worthless lives.

Monty Gelstein, a wealthy philanthropist and tireless animal-rights advocate who will chair the HSETF, promised that “getting the savages among us to turn their lead-filled phalluses on themselves will be as rewarding as it is relatively easy.”

Center for Fewer Humans research director Marcus Aurelius Armitage, who’ll advise HSETF members on matters of science, has advocated the complete and total eradication of those afflicted with savage cretinism. In an “extra scientific” study published in November 2013, Armitage wrote: “While not every human afflicted with cretinism is a hunter, we can say with near-absolute certainty that every hunter is afflicted with cretinism.”

Upon its publication, The Daily Maul reported that “Armitage’s study suggests that a hitherto unidentified form of cretinism — whose nonviolent symptoms include uncontrollable drooling, excessive mouth-breathing, and graceless knuckle-dragging — generates a demonic and insatiable bloodthirst in those afflicted.”

Armitage was quoted in The Daily Maul report as saying, “It’s really in everybody’s interests to wash our hands of the problem — to absolutely vanquish the drooling class.”

Another symptom of savage cretinism, Armitage said more recently, is a pronounced “victim complex.”

The establishment of the HSETF comes in response to news that the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has formed a “Hunter Advancement Task Force.” 

According to a July 23 news release posted on the USSA’s website, “sportsmen, conservation organizations and outdoor personalities met at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance … headquarters yesterday to develop strategies to counter the recent increase in cyber-attacks on hunters.”

In a video produced by the USSA, that organization’s communications specialist — a barely intelligible hack named Kali Parmley — says, “With the growing world of social media at an all-time high, hunters have found themselves in the spotlight being labeled as animal serial killers, psychopaths, and a host of other false allegations from animal-rights activists from around the world who find it easy to attack hunters from behind their computer screens.”

The video also features an appearance by a repulsive lunatic named Jana Waller, who hosts a Sportsman Channel program called Skull Bound TV.

“To me,” Waller says, “the whole issue of harassment is so important because I’m afraid it’s going to deter people — women, kids — from standing tall and proud as hunters. And it’s so misdirected. It comes from such a point of people being uneducated about what hunting is all about. They think it’s all about killing, when, in my opinion, hunting is all about living.”

And Nick Pinizzotto, the USSA’s pitiful, shit-brained president and CEO, adds his voice to the video, saying, “We have to do a better job of framing who we are as a hunting community” and “we have to continue to portray ourselves as the logical people who want to manage wildlife through hunting.”

“The level of cognitive dissonance being put on display by Pinizzotto and his fellow barbarians is absolutely extraordinary,” Armitage said.

Gelstein was less diplomatic.

“The kind of demented narcissist who would actually say ‘hunting is all about living’ really needs to be convinced to shoot the monster she or he sees in the mirror,” Gelstein said, “because unfortunately, we’re living  in a society that accepts and protects the kind of subhuman that believes she or he can legitimately deny being an ‘animal serial killer’ or a ‘psychopath.'”

Speaking on behalf of animal-rights activists everywhere, Gelstein said, “The reason we ‘find it easy to attack hunters from behind (our) computer screens’ is because we’re not violent people. We express ourselves in such a way that no one actually gets hurt. If these scum-sucking Neanderthals want to insist that they’re the victims  as pathetic a suggestion as that is — they ought to go ahead and be the goddamned victims.”

Hunters are so dim-witted, he said, that even an intermediate-level psychological ninja should be able to convince a hunter to put the victim in the mirror out of his or her misery.

“Every hunter simply needs to be convinced to put on his or her ridiculous orange and camouflage costume, look at the reflection in the mirror — or at the reflection in the moonshine bottle — see the victim he or she professes to be, and blow that poor victim’s underdeveloped brain all over the walls of his or her cave.”

Those interested in serving on the Hunter Suicide Encouragement Task Force should introduce themselves on The Daily Maul’s Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Dear Bindi Irwin: Shut the F*@K Up

Photo by Michelle Moore

Photo by Michelle Moore

In a recent interview with Who magazine — an Australian version of People, and not, unfortunately, a periodical dedicated to the legendary British rock band — Bindi Irwin bitched about details of her father’s brutal death being made public. In March, on a Network Ten (Australia) TV show called Studio 10, a cameraman named Justin Lyons, who witnessed Steve Irwin being dispatched by a stingray, vividly described the so-called “Crocodile Hunter’s” final moments.

Lyons recounted telling Irwin, whom he was filming in waters near the Great Barrier Reef in September 2006, “You swim up from behind the animal and I’ll try to get a shot of it swimming away.”

Right off the bat, Lyons’ Studio 10 interview tells us two things: 1) Irwin had about as much sense as that moron from Jackass, and 2) there’s footage of Irwin being killed.

Note to Mr. Lyons: Send me that footage ASAP.

Lyons told Studio 10, “All of a sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail. Hundreds of strikes in a few seconds,” and, “I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away … It wasn’t until I panned the camera back and Steve was standing in a huge pool of blood that I realised something was wrong.”

Well apparently, the public presentation of those tantalizing details pissed Bindi off.

Of Lyons’ Studio 10 interview, Bindi told Who, “It’s really hurtful, and for as long as I live I’ll never listen to it … It’s wrong as a family for us to hear about it.”

Right. Bindi and her family don’t want to hear about pain and suffering. They choose not to look at horrible scenes — which, not surprisingly, is exactly how they’re able to cozy up to the world’s most scrutinized marine prison.

Until Bindi stops being “an apologist for the wildlife-slave industry,” to borrow my own words, she ought to pipe down. She doesn’t have to read or listen to what Lyons has to say, nor does she have to watch footage of a stingray killing her father.

But just because she doesn’t want to watch the footage doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to.

Giant Anteaters Fatally Maul Hunters in Brazil

Photo by Anagoria

Photo by Anagoria

Imagine my delight upon reading the headline “Two Hunters Attacked and Killed by Giant Anteaters in Brazil.” Anteaters? Who knew? But hell, I’ll take it. And I hope the hunters suffered.

In two equally satisfying incidents — one in 2012, the other two years earlier — anteaters used their claws to fatally stab Brazilian savages. Each useless human bled to death (slowly, I hope) as a result of his deserved injuries.

An article by Fiona Keating in the International Business Times indicates that “the case studies of two fatal maulings by giant anteaters were released in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.”

Unfortunately, that journal’s website is only granting me access to an abstract of “Human Death Caused by a Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga trydactila) in Brazil,” which at least provides a few gory details. (Now imagine my excitement upon noticing an “Images” tab on that same Web page. Alas, there are no photos of the anteater maulings, so I’ll have to use my imagination.)

In her International Business Times report, Keating explains that “wildlife researchers are concerned that the attacks happened because of the loss of the animals’ habitat, which may cause them to defend themselves.”

Note to “wildlife researchers”: Is this really just dawning on you? 

Clearly, these people are studying the wrong species’ behavior. I, on the other hand, have long had all the evidence and reason I need to root for the anteaters.

Losing Hunter: Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet



We’d been saying goodbye to Hunter for eight months, since we learned that she had kidney disease. What had begun in August 2012 with the treatment of what appeared to be a urinary-tract infection had turned quickly into the urgent management of and an intensive crash course in glomerulonephritis, the merciless cause of Hunter’s diminished kidney functions. Most dogs don’t last two months after such a diagnosis, we were told by our dedicated veterinarian and a consulting veterinary internist. In the end, she’d lived for eight more months.

Hunter died on March 29, 2013 – Good Friday, somewhat ironically – at the end of a horrible week that we all-but knew would be her last. My wife, Jessica, and I had done all we could do to manage the disease over the “long term,” whose duration had elapsed. And Hunter, an 8-year-old black Lab mix we’d adopted in 2005, was telling us she’d had enough. Dr. B, as compassionate and extraordinary a caretaker as we and Hunter could have hoped to rely on, had said several times that Hunter would “let us know” when she was ready to stop fighting. And in those last few weeks of her life, it had become clear that she was fighting for us, and no longer for herself. No matter how far removed I am from her death, I am destroyed anew by that critical bit of communication, which carried a crushing reminder that Hunter hadn’t been able to tells us much during her illness about how she was feeling and what she wanted or needed. And yet, she’d remained the stoic one, brave and trusting to the end, even as I helped her die.

She hadn’t eaten in days and was staying hydrated only because we’d been giving her fluids subcutaneously. She’d stopped climbing the stairs and going outside on her own and had spent the last week in a peaceless stillness, nausea-induced tremors interrupting any chance of relaxation. While Hunter’s eyes had lost their brightness and struggled to focus in her imprisoning weakness, they didn’t fail to convey her trust. The last few times she’d been outside, after I’d carried her into the yard and set her down to face into the wind, she’d stood still, confused by the dizziness but unafraid of what it meant. She’d always spent a few minutes facing into the wind, closing her eyes and letting the current wash over her forehead. In the past, though, her stillness was meditative until broken in a burst of energy as she bolted across the yard with unusually spectacular speed in pursuit of an interloping bird or squirrel. Now, it was all she could do to just stand there, unsteady, leaving me to remember those purposeful sprints and the smile she’d wear as she came trotting back to the deck, the back door, and the indoors, where she now lay, frail and courageous.

That morning, I’d carried her downstairs from our bedroom, just as I’d carried her upstairs and placed her on our bed the night before. I called our veterinarian, who’d last seen Hunter at the beginning of that terrible week. We’d run out of time, and there was nothing else we could do for Hunter. More important, there was nothing more she wanted us to do. In fact, doing anything more would have been unfair to her. And what was best for her had always been our priority.

Dr. B had told us she’d be off from work that day, but that she’d be available, whatever we needed. What we needed was her help to let Hunter stop fighting. Dr. B and I had talked about this eventuality. Neither of us was surprised that the time had come. Hunter had let us know. She’d answered a question that I wrote down after she was gone: “Do I give her that day, or do I give her the opportunity to not have to endure it?”

Calmly, Dr. B said she’d make arrangements for someone to watch her children and head to her office to pick up the necessary drugs and equipment, after which she’d come to our house, to Hunter. Gently, she asked if we wanted her to take Hunter’s body when it was all over, or if we had plans to bury her, which we did, though that wasn’t a conversation Jess and I’d had. No sooner had I told Jess the details of my conversation with our veterinarian than Dr. B called back to say she’d be at our house within the hour. Immediately, I felt sick to my stomach, a symptom, no doubt, of pain and guilt. It was the right decision, I knew, and yet it hurt in a way that I can still feel.

Not wanting the moments after Hunter died to be taken up with the unwelcome task of digging her grave, I grabbed a pair of gardening gloves and headed for the neighbors’ shed to get a shovel. Jess asked if I wanted her help, which I did not. I let her know as much in a breathless tone that betrayed the anger and grief I felt, and which was captured in another notebook entry, made in the hours and days after Hunter died: “The muscles in my legs ached from digging Hunter’s grave, a ghoulish exercise I performed in the moments before our veterinarian arrived.”

I picked a secluded spot next to the gravesite of an animal companion we’d lost in June 2011: Alex, a more than 15-year-old cat I’d adopted almost that many years earlier in New York City. Alex had died peacefully of old age. She’d made it easy on us, Jess and I have said countless times since. As I started digging this time, I felt no such peace. Adding to that anguish was my concern that our neighbors, with whom we’re friendly, would see what I was doing and come over. They’d known Hunter since we’d brought her home and knew how sick she’d been. They’d noted her increasing absence in our yard and that her final days were upon us. Given that it was a holiday, our neighbors – J and K – were home from work. And it would not have been surprising for J, the handyman neighbor every homeowner should hope to have, to lend a hand. As a do-it-yourself hobbyist with his own backhoe and dump truck, J could’ve dug Hunter’s grave in a few effortless minutes, although, to include anyone else in the performance of this necessary and dreadfully symbolic task was unthinkable.

Thankfully, I was left alone to dig Hunter’s grave – to fight with the stubborn roots that resisted my efforts to split them with the shovel’s edge, to remove pieces of tableware that had likely been buried as trash by our home’s original, 19th century owners, and to set aside the large stones that tumbled into the rectangular excavation. It was a beautiful day in terms of the weather, by most people’s standards, and I worked up a sweat trying to complete the ghoulish exercise before Dr. B arrived.

Like most first-time visitors to our house, she missed the driveway, which is hard to see for those approaching from the north. I’d finished digging and was waiting in the driveway, expecting her to drive past. Had I not known that the decision we’d made earlier that morning was the right one – that Hunter had told us, in her way, that she was done fighting, and that any more fighting on our part would have been for ourselves and not for her – I might have hoped for Dr. B to get lost and fail to find our house. That thought never entered my mind. Hunter was near death and without intervention might have made it through the day, perhaps even through the next. She hadn’t eaten in a number of days, and the only fluids in her were those that we’d provided subcutaneously. She hadn’t stood on her own that day and hadn’t changed her position on her cranberry-colored mat since I’d relocated her there from our bed. Hunter’s once-enviable quality of life had disappeared with her muscle, appetite, and energy.

I greeted Dr. B with an honest smile, in part to put her at ease and let her know that I – that we – were OK, and in part, I’m sure, to acknowledge myself that we were doing something for Hunter, and not to her. Still, Dr. B’s presence once again provided comfort, the extraordinary care she’d provided Hunter marked by equal measures of expertise, professionalism, and compassion. I led her inside and past our nearly 2-year-old cat, Monty, who’d wandered into the kitchen, and then into the living room where Jess sat with Hunter who moved only her eyes as we entered the room. Dorrie, our 5-and-a-half-year-old beagle-hound mix – Hunter’s younger canine sister – stood quietly and attentively nearby. Hunter’s bravery seemed to have rubbed off on the rest of us, though it didn’t cure the physical sickness I’d felt since calling Dr. B’s office less than an hour earlier. More than once, I’d hung up the phone after talking with our veterinarian and cried uncontrollably, angered and devastated by the death sentence Hunter’s glomerulonephritis had come with. I’d been vigilant about channeling those emotions into limiting Hunter’s suffering as much as I possibly could.

Dr. B had Jess and I sign a document pertaining to the procedure, which we did as matter-of-factly as we could so as not to draw any more attention than was necessary to the clerical element, and sat with us on the floor around Hunter, acknowledging and saying a few words to Dorrie and to Monty, who’d joined us in the living room. As she always had, Dr. B spoke to Hunter and gently caressed her sweet, trusting face, which she hadn’t lifted from the mat. Dr. B had long admired Hunter’s stoicism in the face of relentless poking and prodding, and thoughtfully asked if we’d prepared any sort of memorial ceremony. I tried to say through the grip that held my throat that we hadn’t planned anything. Despite my inability to articulate it at the time, I wouldn’t have wanted the moment to unfold any other way.

Dr. B explained to Jess and I what would happen: She’d administer a sedative followed by a barbiturate overdose. It would be over in a matter of seconds, she said, and we shouldn’t be alarmed if Hunter took a deep breath when the lethal drug, which had a somewhat ironic milky-pink hue, entered her system. Still, I felt a stab of panic when Hunter lifted her head and gasped for one, final breath before going limp, her head falling back onto her mat with Dr. B cushioning the impact. I hadn’t removed my hands from Hunter’s body, and there they remained as Dr. B checked for a heartbeat and found none. At least once, Hunter seemed to cough in a single, isolated hack, but it wasn’t really her. It was her body’s final release. She was gone. Explaining that dogs’ eyelids don’t close when they die, as humans’ eyelids do, Dr. B ran her palm over Hunter’s face, closing her eyes once and for all. She told us that we could expect whatever urine and feces that were in Hunter’s system to drain from her body when we moved it, but none did.

Jess and I walked Dr. B to the door, where she told us for the umpteenth time that we’d gone “above and beyond” in taking care of Hunter, which had struck me as a terribly sad comment on whatever the norm is. Jess and I each hugged Dr. B the way we might’ve hugged each other had we not been moved to express our gratitude to her. Awkwardly, I asked if there was any charge for the procedure, which Dr. B said there was not.

When she’d left, I returned to the living room. Jess placed a soft blanket over Hunter and I carried her, still on her mat, outside. I remembered the challenge of carrying an animal-companion’s limp and lifeless body, and made sure Hunter rested in my arms just comfortably as if she were alive. We left Dorrie inside, not wanting her to watch her sister being put into a hole in the ground and covered with dirt. As gently as I could, I placed Hunter in the grave, her cranberry-colored mat providing a deserved cushion against the harsh unevenness of the earth. Slowly, I poured the earth I’d dug up over Hunter’s still and now-peaceful body, then, with Jess’ help, framed the gravesite with pieces of firewood and decorated and protected it with the large stones I’d set aside, as I had with Alex’s grave. Jess marked Hunter’s grave with a piece of earth from which a single, stubborn flower grew, unbothered by the shovel’s earlier violent attack. When we finally let Dorrie out, she ran knowingly to Hunter’s grave.

The above was written one year ago.