I was reminded of this when telling the story earlier this week. I can't say I feel bad about it anymore, circle of life and all that shit. But I don't know that I'll ever make the jump to feeling good about it.
I had to get Old Yeller on a bird this afternoon. I was Travis, but my gun was a shovel. The Bitches and I had just returned from a walk and since I had a poop bag to dispose of, we went directly to the back yard. I didn't even see the little guy at first, but on my way back through the yard, I noticed the Bitches were both hovering over something in front of the bush.
Its tail feathers were mangled, who knows what happened to get it in that condition. The Bitches were interested, but they weren't touching it. Stupidly, I decided it must be dead, gloved up, and grabbed its leg for a proper Target bag burial with the poop. That's when things got a nutty.
The robin was not dead and my grabbing it caused its heart to nearly beat out of its chest. What was left of its feathers began flying everywhere.
It looked like Ryan Seacrest had a pillow fight in my yard.
Of course, once the feathers flew and the squawking began, the Bitches wanted the bird. They are gun dogs, so they have soft mouths meant for carrying around birds and the like. They took turns carrying it around the yard; they didn't want to kill it or eat it, but really took some pride in the parade. Our bird friend wasn't giving up, though, it wriggled around enough for them to drop it. And let's not forget the friend or family robin that began dive bombing the Bitches as soon as the little bird was in their clutches.
I could only assume it was the mother by the intensity with which it cried.
I hoped the little dude would have passed on by this point, but it just wasn't to be. So I grabbed a shovel and called off the Bitches. I stared at its chest for a minute, then looked at its face. So much pain and fear in such a little face. It only took one soft blow.
This was how I knew I wasn't a completely twisted person. A psycho would have wound up and really hammered home on the little thing, wondering what sounds and colors might appear with enough force.
It only took one soft blow.
And the mother kept wailing.
I was already crying by the time I put it in the bag.
I am crying while typing this.
I've always loved animals. When I was a kid, I had funerals for dead birds I found. "You're in a better place now, earth isn't forever," the whole nine. My brother and I would run outside to watch the geese migrating. That turned out to be a real mind fuck in middle school when he brought home a Canadian goose he'd shot. I held that dead, bloody bird in my lap and cried for the monster that my brother had become. That also led to a fairly long stint as a vegetarian, which eventually settled into being a flexitarian who is passionate about raising animals in an ethically and environmentally conscious way. But yes, I find them delicious.
Today I killed the bird. Catching fish never felt as personal and the time I crawled into a culvert to retrieve a wounded pheasant that crawled in there to die, well, I suppose I was acting out a subconscious desire to be a gun dog. One time I hit a cat on the interstate, but I decided it was suicidal because it literally jumped out in front of the car. Plus it lived in Iowa.
I know I did the right thing today, because I helped it and it wasn't scared anymore. But that certainly didn't make it any easier.