The Humane Thing

This animal is very bad; when attacked it defends itself.

–– Anonymous

License: Some rights reserved by smkybear

By Michael Keith

Old Doc figured it could be the end for Sweet Breeze when the 6-year-old limped into the stable after the last race. Indeed, the mare herself knew that a racehorse that could no longer run was generally put down.

“She’s got a major tear in her extensor tendon, so she’ll have to be put out of her misery,” said Doc to Meg Pelly, who owned the horse.

“Are you sure, Doc? I mean you said the same about Cameroon Doll and Gypsy Gal, and they turned out to be okay. Their owners wouldn’t put them down, and they went on to race again after their leg troubles.”

“Well, they were the rare exceptions, believe me. I’ve treated hundreds of horses, and nearly all of the ones that I didn’t put down were no good for anything again. Eventually, I was asked to put them down after the horses had suffered longer than they needed to.”

Sweet Breeze listened to the conversation, hoping desperately that her owner would choose to spare her. She knew, as did the other horses in the Millbrook Race Track stables, that Old Doc was too quick with the needle and had taken the lives of many animals that were nowhere near ready to go and had no need to be euthanized.

“It’s the humane thing to do for these poor injured beasts. They can’t speak for themselves, so I’m their voice and, well, . . . you could say their guardian angel.”

Angel of death, that’s what you are, Doc, thought Sweet Breeze, as she was led into her stall. Please, Meg, don’t let him end my life. I have many good races left in me.

“Won’t even cost you anything to get rid of the carcass . . . er, body, Mrs. Pelly. I have someone who’ll take care of that.”

Besides, I can use the $200 bucks I’ll get, thought Doc, looking through his case for the necessary items to dispatch Sweet Breeze.

“So you really think it’s the thing to do? I mean she looks pretty good. The limp isn’t that bad,” asked Meg, hopefully.

“Believe me, Mrs. Pelly, it’s something that will never heal, and to get her to the point that she can even be used to ride kids will cost tons. She’ll never be the same again. That’s the bottom line, and you can bet her instincts are telling her the same thing. These creatures know these things. ”

Sweet Breeze was not having any of what Old Doc was saying. My instincts? Hooey. What do you know about my instincts? All you care about is selling me to the butchers. Meg, please don’t listen to him!! He’s a killer. He’s taken the lives of too many of my friends just to line his own pockets.

“Well, if you think it’s absolutely necessary, Doc. But I can’t watch. I have to leave.”

NO! Don’t! Please, don’t! I only have a minor sprain that will heal quickly.

“It’s the best decision, Mrs. Pelly. The horse is in great pain, and she’s just not going to be any good to you any more.”

That’s not true! My leg is only a little sore. In fact, it feels better already. See, I can use it fine, whinnied Sweet Breeze, shifting her weight.

“Whoa, girl. Yeah, see she’s hurting. Better let me help her now.”

I am NOT hurting, you old windbag. I’ll show you. You’re not going to peddle me to those meat dealers.

“Goodbye, Sweet Breeze. I’ll always remember you,” said Meg Pelly, wiping tears away as she left the barn.

Oh no! How could you listen to Old Doc? He’s a murderer . . . a mass murderer, in fact.

“Okay, girl, let’s get this over with. I got other things to do,” mumbled the aged veterinarian as he filled a hypodermic with a filmy solution. “You’ll be in horsey heaven in no time.”

Not if I can help it, thought Sweet Breeze, moving her hindquarter as Old Doc closed in on it with the syringe.

“Don’t move. Stay still, you old nag!” growled Doc.

Now . . . do it right now! Sweet Breeze told herself.

The 6-year-old kicked her leg with the alleged fatal injury, striking Old Doc in the hand that held the needle. Knocked loose, it landed in his chest and emptied into his heart.

“What did you . . .?” he moaned, clutching at the needle.

Sweet Breeze watched as her would-be assassin fell to the ground unconscious. Within seconds his breathing had stopped.

 Sorry I had to lower myself to your behavior, Old Doc, reflected Sweet Breeze, shaking her mane and snorting triumphantly. It seemed like the humane thing to do. 

Category: Fiction