(POST_SUBMISSION NOTE: OH CRAP! THIRTY_THREE! I kept thinking '333.' Oh well, that's me disqualified. Still, I'm going to do the exercise anyway, because now it seems even more cool.)
Here's the corrected exercise, just for fun. Good luck, everyone!
To The Two Happy Boys
I could tell myself: I was new, I was young; I’d been left in charge anyway. The shelter was full and I was trying to be practical. Difficult choices are part of life.
All of this was true, but it doesn’t change one bit what you lost. I can’t help but think that if I’d known that “American Bulldog” was an actual breed and not some made-up name designed to hide pit-bull ancestry, I might have contacted that breed’s rescue. It might not have made a difference anyway, but after twenty years, I still wonder what might have happened if I’d made a phone call, one phone call. Would you both have found good homes? I’m sure you would have; you were affectionate and gentle, all six-months-paws and face kisses. Oh, and not housebroken. Right. Easily addressed, but not in a shelter that has little money or staffing, where housebroken dogs come in every day.
I’m sorry I didn’t make that call. I’m sorry I led you instead to the back where you each in turn came up to me trustingly, tail wagging, while a volunteer held off the vein and I administered the injection. I’m sorry your bodies went from happy and energetic to limp and lifeless in a matter of seconds. That I cried during the process doesn’t make it better. I merely had a bad day; you died for the simple crime of existing on a day the shelter was full.
You weren’t alone that year. There were many others also unjustly convicted, many whom I sent on, gently, compassionately, frequently with tears. Those are other apologies I also make, also without self-forgiveness.
I’m sorry that people are stupid and irresponsible. I’m sorry that you and so many others have to suffer for it. It’s twenty years later, and you’d be gone by now anyway, but oh, the warm sun and the fresh grass and the whole wonderful wide world of things you could have loved.
I’m sorry. Every day.