He remembered his rationalization at the time. Tootsie was starting to become a nuisance. She was listless. No one wanted to walk her because she lagged behind. She was incontinent during the night. But she was still their dog. Part of the family, so to speak.
But the family was changing too. Like all nuclear families do. Because they’re not designed to be cohesive forever. Eventually they explode, and everyone goes their own way. To start their own lives.
Patti had moved out to live with her boyfriend. Then Patrick found a flat with friends near to the university. It put those tedious train rides from home into the city behind him. So both kids were gone and the family dog became, in a way, redundant.
So Tootsi remained, and became more and more morose and bad tempered. Either because she was lonely, or because no one took much notice of her, or because she was getting older, or because her time had come.
Or was his take on all this simply unjustified anthropomorphism?
In any event it was obviously his job to sort it out. He decided on a Monday. Yes, he’d do it on Monday morning on the way to work. So his daily routine could help him to forget what he’d done. But Monday came and went and Tootsi was still at home when he got back home that night.
‘I suppose we often forget to do what we don’t want to do,’ he thought.
Then, ‘OK, OK,’ he said to himself, ‘Next Monday. Definitely.’
A month later the dog was still moping around the house and getting in everybody’s way and on everybody’s tits. Everybody being the two of them.
So eventually Andy got up early one Saturday morning. ‘Sorry Old Girl,’ he said as he helped Tootsi onto her blanket on the back seat of the car.
As usual, she refused to get out when he parked in the vet’s car park. He felt a surge of anger. ‘Come on you stupid fuckwit,’ he said grabbing her by the collar and leading her to the door marked RECEPTION.
A woman leaving with a cat in a box looked as him sharply.
He knew the vet quite well from Rotary.
‘Don’t worry, she won’t know anything about it,’ he told Andy. It was something he said to everyone every time he administered this end of the line injection.
‘Do you want the body?’
‘Sorry? The body?’ Andy was confused.
‘Yes, you know, to say goodbye. Closure. For the kids, I mean.’
Andy took a while to understand what the vet was getting at. In itself an indication of how he stood on the matter of putting the family pet down. He was upset, but didn’t want to show it.
‘No, no. No thank you, please dispose of the body for me. The kids have both left home.’
‘Perhaps Sandy’s right,’ he thought. ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have used that putting the dog down analogy with Jenny.’