Before I moved to Hollywood to be a bigshot record producer, I sold stocks on the Houston Stock Market in Texas. Since oil is the big thing in Texas, my strategy was to try and corner the market on things that were less heavily traded, like oats. It didn’t really work out that well.
Anyway, when I was there, I got a chocolate lab puppy that I named “Ol’ Stanky”, because he bore a strong resemblance to Joan Collins. Back then, it was a timely and hilarious reference, but it hasn’t aged well.
So Ol’ Stanky was my best pal and he moved with me to Los Angeles and was even the ring bearer at my wedding to Linda.
He was a great dog, very mellow and everybody loved him.
When he was about 14 years old, it became hard for him to get around. We took him to the vet, who called us with the grim news that Ol’ Stanky had cancer. It was a pretty aggressive type and had advanced pretty far along, in numerous places in his body. It’s a testament to Ol’ Stanky’s fortitude that he had only recently shown us any signs that he was in pain.
The vet wanted us to bring him back so he could put him out of his misery. At that point, there were only surgical options and to put an old dog through something so complex and involved was cruel, as he probably wouldn’t survive anyway. He told us we could take the day to think it over and spend some time with Ol’ Stanky. I thanked him for his kindness and steeled myself to break the news to Linda.
She was really upset but knew that it was the right thing to do. As we spent the day giving Ol’ Stanky treats and rubbing his ears, just the way he liked us to, I started to think about what lay ahead.
It didn’t seem right that we would just drop him off for the vet to do his business in a cold, sterile backroom of his office. Ol’ Stanky should die here, in his home, with the people he loved.
I left Linda and Ol’ Stanky to run some errands and returned a half hour later with a handgun I purchased from some youths downtown.
As I showed the piece to Linda, she screamed in horror. I tried to calm her down and explain my motives. She began to see that Ol’ Stanky’s life really began with me, so if someone was going to end it, it should be me as well.
We spent some more time with Ol’ Stanky, but he stopped responding to our affection, lost in his own world. It was almost as if he knew it was time.
I picked him up in a blanket and took him down to the basement. I laid him down on his ratty old dog bed that he loved so much and we offered him some final, tearful goodbyes. I petted his muzzle and he licked my hand. Now, I knew it was time too.
I told Linda she didn’t have to stick around for this, but she wanted to be there, for both of us.
I checked the weapon to make sure everything was in order (I had lived in Texas for almost six years, so I was proficient in firearm safety and maintenance) and pulled back the hammer.
I leveled the gun at Ol’ Stanky’s head and gripped the trigger. I pulled tightly and a loud bang went off. Ol’ Stanky let out a yelp of surprise.
Linda opened her eyes and looked at me glaringly, after she surveyed the scene of Ol’ Stanky licking at the tiny wound on his shoulder.
“I guess I flinched at the last second,” I told her, sheepishly.
“Don’t you think this poor animal has suffered enough?” She asked me.
I did, but still… I guess the finality of it all hadn’t really sunken in, like I thought it had. Maybe the surgery wasn’t such a bad option? His bullet wound didn’t seem to be life-threatening.
No. I was being selfish. I had to do what was right. For him.
I pointed the gun at my dog, making sure that where I was aiming would deal a deadly blow. It would be quick, it would be final. He would be at peace.
Another loud bang. Again, Linda’s frustrated and angry voice yelling at me over Ol’ Stanky’s pained cries.
That time, I knew I had flinched. I had nicked the side of his tail and there were little bits of fur still floating through the air.
Well, this went on for another half hour or so. None of my shots seemed to connect with anything important, as Ol’ Stanky kept on ticking. He seemed to match my wife’s exasperation with my ineptitude. I’m pretty sure that if he could talk, he would have joined her in admonishing me.
As it dawned on me that I had only one bullet left, the ridiculousness of my situation started to hit me. I realized this whole “I’m gonna put my own dog to sleep” bullshit had started not out of respect for my beloved pet, but rather as an attempt to show my father that I was, contrary to his opinion, a real man. One who was capable of making important decisions on his own. One who could, so to speak, “pull the trigger”.
Well, looks like Dad was right again!
When I told Linda that I had only one bullet left, she tried to grab the gun from me, because she felt that I was never going to be able to do it. I was determined not to let go, because now I had to show her too. I’d show everyone! Especially my stupid dad!
That’s about the time the gun went off. The bullet ricocheted off the aluminum ladder and bounced back, hitting my wife in the leg. I ran upstairs, grabbed the phone and called 911. I returned to find her putting pressure on the wound.
“What the hell is that for?” she asked, referring to the steak knife in my hand.
“Oh, well, I figured I should finish the job before the ambulance gets here, no?”
“Forget about the fucking dog for a second, I’m bleeding, you asshole!”
It seemed cruel to leave poor Ol’ Stanky sitting there in his bed, totally annoyed with me, as he tried to lick at each of his 16 or 17 minor wounds, but she did seem to be losing a lot of blood.
When the paramedics arrived, they took my wife to the hospital while a police officer questioned me about the events leading up to my wife being shot.
“You shot your own dog?” he asked, increduously.
“Yeah, but he’s fine, he’s downstairs,” I told him.
“Wait a minute, he’s still alive?”
“Yeah, well, I couldn’t quite… um, finish the job?” Boy, this was starting to sound bad.
The cop seemed to think so too, as he handcuffed me to the sink while he went down to the basement to retrieve Ol’ Stanky. When he was done carrying him out to the car, he returned just long enough to pistol whip me into unconsciousness, before taking him to the vet.
The first thing I remember upon waking up in the hospital was seeing Ol’ Stanky, happily wagging his tail on television. A reporter was doing a story about the miracle dog who had come back from the edge of death after an insane monster had accidentally shot out every single one of his cancerous tumors in an aborted attempt to put the dog down.
Look, I know I made some huge mistakes, but I think the fact that my actions are ultimately what saved the dog should be weighed when evaluating my sentence, don’t you?
Apparently, a jury of my peers did not think that, as I am now serving a seven year sentence in a maximum security prison. My ex-wife has sued me for everything I am worth, so when I get out of jail, I will come home to nothing. In fact, I won’t even have a home to come home to.
As for Ol’ Stanky, he’s doing fine. He lives on a farm with the police officer who pistol-whipped me now. He’s had a full recovery and will probably live another 14 years. I wish him well, even though it was his testimony against me that really sealed my fate.
All of this has further cemented the idea that I am not a real man, in my father’s eyes. But he’s wrong and when I get out of here, me and my new friends from the Aryan Brotherhood are going to show him just how wrong he is!