Human/Animal Bond

A Flash of Blood and Euthanasia

Bandy was my best friend in a world that was wildly out of my control

Published: February 04, 2022
Linda and Bandit. Photo courtesy of Dr. Linda Tintle

It was 1970. I was 15. We had moved to a new home in a rural area, just a few towns over from the suburban neighborhood where I had spent a mostly idyllic childhood, but our new address may as well have been in an alternate universe. My Great Dane, Bandit, had attacked a new friend from my new high school. As we two girls approached my front door in single file with me in the lead, he bashed out the screen door, ran for me, spotted her, sprang through the air knocking her flat on her back on the ground and biting ferociously into her neck. It happened in a few instants and changed everything.

He was scheduled for euthanasia after 10 days of post-bite quarantine in our house. Bandy was my best friend in a world that was wildly out of my control. I had spent 10 days lying with my head on his chest, stroking him, murmuring through tears how much I loved him, how much I would miss him, and sobbing how terribly sorry I was for all of this.

I never doubted that euthanasia was the best choice. He had bitten me once before this episode but that had been when I had thrown my arm between him and another dog in a dogfight. I still bear the scars on my forearm from that over 50 years later. The wide-eyed look of horror on his face the moment he realized he had my arm between his jaws is one I will never forget.

He was a high strung, unpredictable, unneutered 120-lb male and I didn't have the knowledge or skills back then to properly manage his issues and give him the secure boundaries and training he would have needed. Hell, I didn't have the boundaries or discipline to manage myself in that chaotic dysfunction of the 1970s Meyer household.

My friend's very wealthy father stated that if the dog was put down, he wouldn't sue us since my friend had been terrified but her wounds were minor. But even without that threat, I couldn't live with the idea that he might more seriously injure another person, and I did not have other options. I did not have the ability to keep him or anyone safe.

I was a freshman in high school. I did not get on the bus that morning, the only day that I missed that school year. My mother drove me to Dr. Meincke's office near our old home. I had grown up in the shadow of the veterinary hospital that had bordered our old neighborhood. He had helped me get my Girl Scout badge in animal first aid and restraint. I trusted and admired him. The man never turned away a neighborhood child with an injured bird or squirrel and he shaped how I saw veterinarians and the profession.

We did it on the cement porch outside the hospital entry. He had me squat next to Bandy, hold out the dog's big leg and hold off the vein. I can still vividly recall the bloom of red blood back into the syringe as he checked to see that he was in the vein. He injected the thick solution and time slowed. I gradually felt Bandit slump toward the ground. Time returned to normal speed as I heard my mother wailing and crying hysterically behind Dr. Meincke. As I curled down to cradle Bandit's loose dying body, Dr. Meincke gently lifted me and told me to go comfort my mother, that she needed me more than Bandit did.

I raged internally, a capped off volcano. Mentally screaming in pain at a cruel god, at my mother who should have been there to comfort me instead of vice versa, at everything. Mom drove me to school from there. I approached the principal's office to explain my tardiness. The secretary irritably asked me to explain why I was so late. “I just killed my f*cking dog,” my teenage fury spewed in her face before I blindly ran to my next class.

I thought of all this today as I euthanized a dog with end-stage cancer. As the blood bloomed back into the syringe, I helped him pass over the rainbow bridge as his human wept. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.


Johnny Dee
March 24, 2022

I held my last two Pei as the took their last breaths.  Ziggy was our rambunctious male, truly the emperor's dog. He was my shadow.  We lost him to cancer.  Daizee was our little princess who gave the best kisses and loved our walks more than life.  We lost her to bronchitis.  We owe it to our dogs to be there for them at the end, no matter how much it hurts.

Heidy Hollister
February 19, 2022

The amount of pain you felt in your heart was and is unimaginable to anyone not having gone through this. I get it, but I was on the other side...court mandated euthanasia that I had to perform. Easy right? not my dogs? not my problems? just as painful. These dogs were loved by their guardians, the reason WHY didn't really matter, the pain is the same. I feel it, I feel your pain, the pain of the dogs I did this too, the pain of the loss of their lives. You cannot overcome that!

Linda Gardner
February 6, 2022

The pain & sorrow for those loses linger FOREVER

February 5, 2022

ThIs such a sad story... Terribly traumatic for all family members but I agree mom should have been comforting you. I'm guessing that from that experience you became one of the most well renowned vets.  Youth euthanasia is never easy but sometimes a must...

Carolynne Dancer
February 5, 2022

I’ve been there so many times and it never gets easier. Incredibly painful and something I will never forget.

Robin Wittenborn
February 5, 2022

Its a bad day when you know what you know & must do what You don't want to.

Joy Les EdD
February 4, 2022

This breaks my heart. How devistating this must have been for you at such a young age to go through this but knowing it was necessary. Today you are able to end the pain and suffering of God's creatures again knowing it is necessary. I admire your heart.

Sharon Pensyl
February 4, 2022

That is the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I miss Bo so much. My heart is broken too.

Lynn Oelsen
February 4, 2022

I am sobbing.  I am so sorry.  I can only imagine how difficult it is in your own practice.  Your story took me back to when I was a 4 year old child.  We had to give up our German Shepard because the lady next door was afraid of him.  She told my parents that if he ever bit her she would own my parents home.  I cried and cried as he left us.  Mom promising a beautiful fairy costume for Halloween.  I isn’t want it.

Charlene Nemetz
February 4, 2022

Your article brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you so much for what you do in both the animal world and the human world.  I wish you were in the United States  Sending this to you with awe.Charlene Nemetz

Elizabeth Montgomery
February 4, 2022

42 years of being a vet tech, this I have witnessed this. Thank you for this perspective.

Carlene Knox.
February 4, 2022

I am sitting here crying for you and your Bandit You seer to young to have to face this. I just face this three months ago and it was like ripping part of my heart from my chest. I will never forget saying ok to do it and wanting to say stop. I know you will always have this memory. God gave you the strength to go on to become a great Vet with lots of compassion. Thank you for sharing

Marlene Poley
February 4, 2022

Omg Linda, i feel your pain. Beautifully written

Cheri Pierce
February 4, 2022

I just sent my 14 yr old to the Rainbow Bridge last week. We were out on the deck,his favorite place, and a peace was with me as he crossed over. No more pain from mast cell cancer and 13 wonderful year as my companion as a rescued pup

Judi Todd
February 4, 2022

The hardest things I've EVER had to do in my life, have been to hold my dogs while they slipped over to the other  side.  And my last dog, who was LITERALLY the last dog I will ever own due to my age and health, literally slipped over to Doggie Heaven in my arms before I could get her to my vet, totally tore me in two!  Almost a year ago.  It has taken me nearly a year to be able to talk about "Lexi", without sobbing.  No matter how old we are, the pain is immeasurable.  My heart will never heal, as I imagine your's probably hasn't either.  I feel your pain.

February 4, 2022

This sensitive, passionate essay brought me to tears. Linda is one of the kindest, most caring souls who I've met on my life's journey. I am blessed by this friendship.

Evelyn Hagan
February 4, 2022

I’m facing the possibility of putting my cute little Pupup right this minute. Her 2nd vertebrae is fractured and something there and next to the spinal cord is out of place.. she has a neck brace. The operation is a minimum of $15,900 and needs 2 neurological surgeons with no guarantee. Ive had her home for a week caring for her and trying to raise the funds. I don’t know what to do.

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