After reading my story about the dead monkey, an old colleague emailed me a nasty picture of two Pakistani boys beating a small puppy to death on a roadside. He wrote under it, "Remember?" I did remember the savagery with which Pakistanis treated animals, especially dogs. They showed no sympathy or empathy for the suffering of animals, and seemed to enjoy inflicting needless pain and death on them. This, of course, was also a society in which women were treated not much better than these animals.
I am not a vegetarian; I recognize the need for some testing of medicines and other products on animals; I eat meats and seafood of all kinds; I have hunted birds and mammals; I have had no problem pulling a weapon on threatening humans. I, however, hate cruelty and despise people who abuse animals or other humans just because they have the power to do so. That was a big problem I had in my service in Muslim countries; one had to turn a blind eye to the big and little savageries of daily life there. Those were quite common in Pakistan. One saw animals, children, and women beaten. I remember a crowd in Peshawar stoning a confused dog to death while children laughed and cheered. Our maid, a Christian widow with a young daughter, had been forced to undergo sterilization by her previous Muslim employer as a condition of her employment. He assumed Christian women were of loose morals, and didn't want her to get pregnant.
When we weren't in Peshawar, or I was on the road, we lived in a big, charmless concrete house in Islamabad. It had a high wall and a large yard. Our immediate neighbors were a Spanish family. The man of the house, Eliseo, worked for the US Embassy and was a superb engineer. He was helping build the new chancery. He barely had escaped with his life when the embassy was attacked. Trapped in his second floor office with a Pakistani employee when the mob set the building on fire, he decided to jump from the window into the screaming horde; his employee did not follow. Eliseo landed on his feet, and although breaking an ankle, he managed to act as though he were part of the attacking crowd. He gradually limped to the back of the mob, and got a ride on a motorcycle to his house. The employee left behind died from the smoke. That experience gave Eliseo a healthy skepticism about life in Pakistan.
Eliseo and I became hunting buddies, and enjoyed going out for boar and birds. He was a superb shot and knew all the good hunting spots. He was also an outstanding cook who could prepare game like nobody else I have ever met.
The Diplowife and I found and adopted a small, underfed, rather ragged puppy who appeared one morning at our gate. I barely stopped the guard from stomping the pup to death. He couldn't understand why we would want such a miserable looking thing. Well, we cleaned him up, and took him to a local veterinarian accustomed to crazy foreigners. The vet vaccinated the pup, and gave us other medicines for him. Our Christian maid cheerfully would cook him some meat and rice every day; our Muslim employees stayed away from him. We named him Kutta, Urdu for dog--not too original, I admit. After three weeks or so he was coming along nicely; he was turning into an affectionate little beast, following me around the cavernous house, ears flapping and tail wagging, and with that grim look of determination that puppies adopt as though they are going on a vital mission. I also enjoyed playing with him in the yard.
One day I was standing outside our gate talking to Eliseo. Our guard cracked the gate open to say something to me and, you guessed it, Kutta slipped out. He ran into the street as a small taxi cab was speeding by. The cab deliberately swerved to hit Kutta, and did so with a sickening thud, and then sped away. I can still see the driver and passengers laughing. Eliseo and I ran out into the street; I scooped up Kutta, but it was obvious the injuries were fatal. Kutta could not move his rear legs, and was coughing blood. I had my wife call the vet, but he wasn't home.
Eliseo said the obvious, "We can't let him suffer like this." I agreed. I went home, and got an old JC Higgins Model 88 .22 LR revolver I had owned since childhood. I loaded the thing and walked over to where Eliseo was comforting the dying Kutta. He stood up and made way for me. I crouched down, with my left hand grabbed Kutta by both ears, and with my right put the barrel of the revolver against the back of his small head. My hand began to shake uncontrollably. There was no way I could pull the trigger. I began to feel a powerful sensation of nausea. I looked up at Eliseo, and said to him in Spanish, "No lo puedo hacer" ("I can't do it"). Eliseo, himself fighting back tears, said, "Move, I'll do it." In what seemed one swift movement, he grabbed Kutta by the ears, put the revolver near the back of the puppy's head, and fired. Kutta died instantly. I threw up.
Eliseo gave me the revolver, which I stuffed into my belt. He helped me wrap up Kutta in an old towel. As I was burying Kutta in our yard, the guard came up to me and said, "You should have let me kill him when he first showed up." I glared at him, but successfully fought my urge to pull out the JC Higgins and empty it into his stupid smiling face. I don't think I would have thrown up.