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Should I mourn the death of a police dog? Should I salute the dog?

In college I lived in a trailer with a roommate who had a German shepherd named Tonya. Tonya was one of the nicest people I ever met.

Ben Sweeney and Ed Lehman

Ben Sweeney (left) and Ed Lehman, old friends of mine. Ben and I rented a trailer at Penn State in 1977-’78. Ben and Ed also went to high school with me, and Ed was/is an occasional guest wherever I lived. He loved Tonya, too. Both Ben and Ed are veterans, serving in the U.S. Air Force.

The other day on Facebook a post showed up in my newsfeed. It was about a dog named Jethro. The post gave me pause. Because I’m a meat eater. I’m married to a woman who is trying to become a vegan. She makes some exceptions for shrimp, salmon, and other seafood. But she’s cutting down on dairy and eggs. And other than that, she’s doing great. And probably will continue to meet whatever requirements are out there for being vegan. The point is, she wants no animals to suffer in any way from her diet.

I’m not in the same place. I don’t want animals to suffer, but I like some kinds of meat. For example, beef, chicken, fish, and pork. But for my 2016 New Year’s resolution, I promised her I’d give up pork. That includes bacon. Damn.

The post about Jethro, though, upset me for another reason. Jethro was a police dog who was killed in the line of duty, and a couple of men were saluting his casket as it was carried out of a building and deposited in the back of an SUV. Here’s the video.

Posted by Keith Riffle on Sunday, January 10, 2016

Although the video had a couple of million views and plenty of comments, I was compelled to post the following:

Keith Croes I don’t know what to think of this. I’m an Army veteran. I know people who have died in the line of duty. Justice must be the goal of every act of law breaking. But we kill animals every day in order to eat meat. How do I differentiate between Jethro and a cheeseburger at my favorite pub? Can only vegans mourn animals? I’ve loved animals in my life; I’ve mourned their death. Especially dogs. But even cats! I mourn for them. Yet I’m still a meat eater. I don’t know whether I’d salute Jethro or not. It gives me great pain not knowing that. A salute is something special. All animals are something special. Yet I still like meat. Why did God make me this way? Evolution made me this way. There are friends and foes in the animal kingdom. Yet I’m torn now, because mankind is at the top, and can kill them all, and in some places, are busy killing them all. And if it came down to them or me, I’d kill them. It is such a tough predicament. Thanks for listening. Sorry if I’ve gone on too long.

That’s it. That about covers my problem here. I guess it’s all about saluting. Native Americans used to thank their kill; in effect, they’d salute the body of the deer that they just slayed. Maybe I need to think that way. On the other hand, they were meat eaters. There are just too many variables for me to process in this process.

I’d never eat Tonya or Jethro. But I’m not sure I’d salute them.

I’m simply not clear in my thinking about this. Your input would be welcomed.


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