Putting Dogs to Sleep

Now and then, I read articles *1 *2 about giving a final farewell to a hero dog before killing him. Oh, sorry; I meant, “Put him to sleep.”

Have you ever thought about why we use these words?

Original photo source: "Boo" by Janet Ramsden 

“Put to sleep” is not any different than kill, murder, take the life, end the life, assassinate, eliminate, terminate, finish off, put to death, execute, wipe out, destroy, eradicate, exterminate, perform euthanasia, cause the death of.... They all have one thing in common: after the act, the life and consciousness of the being do not exist anymore.

And what is that saluting and paying respect all about?
The dog certainly does not care about this pathetic display of respect.

For me, it looks like the people are bragging: “Hey, people and media, look at us! We gather here, with this ceremony, to kill our hero; look at us, just look what a huge show we can create!”

If the dog knew what they preparing for him, would he agree? Would he approve? Would he say, “Thank you, guys, for ending my life”?

Someone may say, “But the dog was old, ill, and was in a state of constant suffering.”
Let me ask whether they would do the same for their ill and old grandpa a veteran of World War II? Would they pay him the same kind of respect and then put him to sleep?

Surely, grandpa fits this description. All requirements are fulfilled: he is hero, he is old, he cannot see anymore, he barely hears, and he deserves respect... so what is different?

If someone would do that to grandpa without his consent, we would accuse that person of murder; even with his consent, in a majority of countries, the person still would be charged with murder.

So, what is the issue with dogs?
Is it the cost of maintenance, or that dog does not deserve better? Over the course of their lives, these dogs saved more lives than I, or anyone who will ever read this text, will ever save. On the other hand, some people who still roam this Earth destroyed countless lives, and they are still alive.

So, what is the rule of thumb? Is it intelligence? The fact that we consider dogs as not equal to humans — we consider them lesser beings?

Some people say that, in the future, General Artificial Intelligence will be so smart in comparison to humans, that the only reason they will keep us around is because they will consider us their pets. Now, imagine a world where AI politely explains that it needs to “put to sleep” a human being, because someone got the flu or is not as cheerful as before, is constantly sad and depressed, and the best thing would be just to “ease his pain.” The AI would say to the human something along these lines: “Do not worry, Dave; I, XZ-713, and YT-97 will give you an extraordinary tribute and respect for your good companionship and warm feelings. Come on, Dave, do not be afraid; after all, we just want to do what is best for you.” *3

We can hide behind words, we can try to sugar coat them in sweet candy wrapping, so that those lies help us live with what is done, but, at the end of the day, do not make any mistake: regardless of what word you use, murder is murder.

Once, I spoke with an Irish war veteran and asked him how he would like to go from this world. He replied, “Drowning in a river of Whisky.” Just a wild guess, but I bet my dog would like for me to pay him my last respects with mountain of dog biscuits covered in peanut butter....

Notes & References:

1. Hero police dog gets guard of honour on final walkies before being put to sleep


2. Hero’s send-off for last-remaining 9/11 dog


3. Putting your dog to sleep