Thursday, 13 March 2014

"I Had To Bring My Baby Boy Home In A Cardboard Box"


(I write this for myself, to preserve my own memories of what has just happened over the last couple of days. The details are gruesome and not what I would wish to show other people, but I want this on my blog purely for myself, lest my memories blur and deteriorate with the passage of time).

It was on Tuesday morning (the 11th) whilst I had Shao Bai and Wanwan at the park as usual; I caught Shao Bai eating something on the grassy verge where a certain old man usually sits. I called him away and my first thought was that the dirty old man had thrown away some chicken bones or something. When I took Shao Bai and Wanwan back home, Shao Bai did not exhibit any symptoms or at least I didn't notice any. I returned to the park with the next two dogs and spent the next half hour running with my weights. When I got back home, the first thing I noticed was dog shit just inside the front door; I looked around the room about to scold the culprit (the dogs never shit inside the house) when I saw Shao Bai in violent spasms and panting furiously on the sofa. I picked him up and jumped straight on the bike and raced through several red lights to the vet's. They gave him some emergency shots to stop the convulsions and calm him down and then put him on an IV drip in a cage in the back.

Tuesday night I went back to see him as soon as I got off work and I took him to another little park nearby - he was looking good: no shaking, plenty of urinating and defecating and was happy to out of the cage. I played with him for a little while and then took him back to the vet's to hook him up to the IV drip again.

When I got back home, I took Wanwan and Coco out to the park and the first thing I did was to start clearing up the food that had been dumped on a stone platform in the mud because I was afraid of further poisoning. I began to talk to the others and tell them what had happened, and then I suddenly noticed Wanwan was missing - he was over where Shao Bai had been previously with the poisoned food. He was eating something. I shouted at him and ran over to chase him. Me and Rachel and Carl started walking our dogs, and then we noticed that Wanwan was starting to shake. I knew what had happened and instantly picked him up and rushed to the bike with Coco, called the vet to tell him I was coming, and then drove Wanwan to the vet's. The vet gave him the same emergency relaxation shots as Shao Bai and he calmed down and stopped shaking. We hooked him up to the IV and I talked to both Shao Bai and Wanwan in their cages for a few minutes before taking Coco home. I walked the other three dogs in a different park that night.

On Wednesday morning, just before lunch time, I went back to see Shao Bai and Wanwan and noticed that Shao Bai was shaking again. The vet passed this off as just excitement, but I knew this was wrong. When I took him to the park, his condition was obviously awful; although he did manage to both urinate and defecate, he was shaking a little and panting and his eyes were half closed at times. He was in a bad way. I rushed him back to the vet's and told the vet in no uncertain terms that the poison was at work again, and he had to give Shao Bai another relaxant. The vet insisted that he be put back on the IV drip first, and that he would soon give Shao Bai something (he was preoccupied with other things at that moment). As time was getting on, Wanwan needed to be taken for a walk too, and I trusted the vet, I left and assumed the vet would give Shao Bai something. I don't know if he did or not. When I got Wanwan to the park, he was fine; he both urinated and defecated without any difficulty and seemed perfectly happy. I took him back to the vet's, and saw that Shao Bai seemed to have stopped shaking - so my conclusion was that the vet must have given him something.

Later in the afternoon, I was walking Tinkerbell and Gunny in the (other) park before getting ready for work when the vet called me and said that Shao Bai had gone into shock and had died and that there had been nothing they could do. I just fell on my knees when I heard that. I called work to say what had happened and that I wouldn't be able to come in. I took the two dogs home and then drove to the hospital. The overwhelming sensation was, and still is, of attentional swing between the prosaic actions of driving; breaking, accelerating and so on, and the inward perception of an iceberg, but just the obvious tip of a delirious, submerged grief.

I will never be able to get over this.

When I got to the vet's I walked straight through to the back and saw that his cage was empty. I looked out the back and around the room and had to weakly ask the assistant where he was. He was lying in a cardboard box at my feet - I had walked straight past him. When I looked down and saw him lying like that, it just knocked me against the wall. It was so unexpectedly strong, almost as if something had kicked me in the back of the knees. I fell down and wept. Shao Bai's body was still warm and limp.

I remember looking across the room at Wanwan with my eyes all blurred up in tears, and Wanwan looked straight back at me. I brought Shao Bai's body over to Wanwan to see his brother and spent more time with them before finally wiping my eyes and making a decision. I carried Shao Bai in his little cardboard box out with me and drove him home so the other dogs could see him and understand. I just lay on the garage floor with them crying my eyes out.

Later in the evening I went back to the vet's with a friend to walk Wanwan (he was still OK). We got information about cremation services and my friend made the call for me because I just couldn't do it. This morning at 10.00am a young lad from the company came around to pick up Shao Bai's body. By last night it had turned cold and stiff, which just tore me up inside.

As of writing this, it is 11.30am on Thursday morning. I am going to have something to eat, and then go to the vet's to see Wanwan. I just called to check and they said he is OK. I will also go to work today to hand my notice in (unrelated).

I know who the culprit is.

The vet said that even if I could show that it was him who had intended to poison my dogs (e.g. by confession), the court would be unlikely to punish him beyond possible compensation for my vet bills.

Death must come to us all, but my baby boy deserves to know that his daddy isn't going to take his murder lightly.

Far from it.



  1. Shocking news and I'm very sorry to hear it. I read through some of your posts about caring for Shao Bai when he had distemper, went missing, had his surgery & etc. I must say that it was his great good fortune to fall into such caring and capable hands as yours. You gave him a good life and a far longer one than he would have had without you and I hope in time you take comfort in knowing that.

    Best wishes for Wanwan's full recovery.

  2. Looks like a certain dirty old man needs a bit of his own medicine--I mean, poison.

    Sorry for your loss, Mike. Will gladly head northward to generously give some punishment to the culprit.

  3. Mike, I am so sorry to hear about Shao Bai, and do not know if I would be able to subsume my anger to my grief in such a situation. I share your tears, and understand the depth of feeling you have for your dogs.

  4. Thanks everyone for the kind comments. Shao Bai has gone but his brother Wanwan has survived. I must admit I have been tempted to break every bone in the old man's body and force feed him his own pesticides - but have had to pull myself up short for fear of being incarcerated and having my five other dogs thrown back out onto the street where they would almost certainly meet with a nasty end in a short time.


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