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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The end of a life

Hi everyone!
I am YA author B A Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline says it all - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. This month I join the other Genre-Istas in talking about a more sombre subject.

This month we're blogging about near death experiences.

I could blog about the book I'm just finishing. It's a romantic suspense, my first adult novel since taking three years off to work exclusively on Young Adult novels and short stories. The Last Logan will be out in 2015. Writing that novel meant creating -- and killing -- a lot of people in a lot of unhealthy ways.  One of my critique partners cried when Elizabeth had to go. I did too, I really liked the woman.

I could blog about my first YA novel, PULL, where the hero's mother is murdered just before the story begins. Although that loss happens off the pages, it propels the hero on through his emotional arc as he learns to deal with the loss an help the new girl in his life who is dealing with her own losses

Or I could write about my most recent YA release, Minority of One, where I had to kill off a character I truly cared about. She didn't deserve to die, but the story was all about her end from the moment I got the idea.  She dies on the pages and my hero and heroine have to cope with what her loss means to them and to their future.

Instead I'm going to write about something personal. Its not about near death.

It's about Death.

I have...that is I had a dog named Dakari. She escaped death once when I agreed to give her a chance and take her in. I think she tried to be a good dog. It wasn't her fault her original owners moved to a place stamped No Dogs Allowed. It wasn't her fault she had epilepsy.

It certainly wasn't her fault she got me as her new owner.

She was always a bit stand-offish. I think she liked me, especially when I fed and walked her. But she liked running free more.

Most of all, she hated other dogs.

In the beginning it was just typical dominatrix things. Seriously, I thought her plans for doggie dominion were cute. But I never took into account the effect that long-lasting seizures could have on a brain. her domination turned into a desire to destroy.

She attacked a small dog last year while I was walking her. It was over quickly, and she didn't even puncture the other dog's skin. But that was only the first sign.

Earlier this year she jerked free of the leash, raced across the street and jumped a dog being walked by a neighbor. That dog needed treatment and cost me almost $300. I sought out doggie tranquilizers and talked about behavior modification treatment. I resolved tokeep a closer watch over her.

Until two weeks ago. I was having work done on the house. I locked her in the garage, let the  man in the front door, went through the house with him, and then let him out the back door and closed it. Then, is a moment of absent mindedness, I forgot I had never closed the front door.

Dakarai didn't forget. The second I let her back in the house from the garage she booked it out the still-open door.

I guess I'm lucky she only found one other dog to attack.

The vet and I discussed about her escalating behavior issues. Tranqs were not going to work. Work with a dog specialist might, but the truth was how could she ever be trusted around other dogs again? And how could I ever guarantee I would never make another mistake, or lose control if she lunged at the end of her leash. her seizures were growing more frequent and longer-lasting, sometimes ten or fifteen minutes.  That, the vet says, had probably caused brain damage. And because there was no way to stop her seizures, there could be more behavior changes in the future. She would attack again. The question was when, not if.

So I signed the papers and had her euthanized. On paper, I have taken the lives of men, women and children. In reality, I took the life of my best friend, so she would never injure another animal or human, or God-forbid, cause a death herself. As hard as it was for me to let her go, it would have been harder for me to someday have to turn to someone else and say "sorry for your loss." Especially since I could have done something to keep that from happening.

Authors are told to write what they know.  Today I know a lot more about emotional depth. I know about having someone else's future in my hands. Feeling like a murderer, and like a victim's loved one all at the same time.

It's no longer a cliche to me, a house really can feel empty when you walk in the door.


Sarah Raplee said...

I'm sorry or your loss, B.A.You made the right decision, painful as it was.

Seven years ago we had to have our two-year-old Great Dane, Roxie, euthanized after she bit a little girl. We were very lucky the child only required a few stitches. Roxie was our 'baby', but that six-year-old was somebody else's REAL child.

We still miss Roxie.

Judith Ashley said...

Thank you for sharing your story, B.A. I do know about the feeling of having someone's life in your hands, feeling like a murderer and a victim at the same time - his name was Duke and his picture remains next to my computer after more than ten years.

Dakari was very lucky to have you as her doggie mom. It is hard to be out of our own control and, I think, that it true for dogs as well.

Sending prayers your way.

Diana McCollum said...

So sorry for your loss, you definitely made the right decision.

B. A. Binns said...

Thank you all for your thoughts. In my head I know that I did what I had to do, probably the only thing possible. Maybe someday my heart will catch up to that knowledge. It has only been a week, so it's still pretty raw for me.

Marcia King-Gamble said...

As a pet lover (4 animals in my care, 3 now) this is a very tough decision to make. I am so sorry!