Q I recently had to put my dog down. He was suffering and it was the humane thing to do. He had been with me for the last twelve years, through law school (I’d sneak him into the library on occasion), through a two-year job search, and finally at my side as I navigated the hellish time-suck of my current job at a mid-size law firm.
Actually, at my side is a tad generous toward me, as I often had to hack up my schedule or hire someone to walk him some days, as I could not consistently get away from the office at the end of the day. Yeah, I felt guilt, which is why in the last year as he was declining I spent a lot more time with him and promised I’d make his final days easier.
I scheduled the day that my dog would die. I found a vet that would come to my house (unfortunately, only during the work week) and made all the arrangements. Two weeks in advance I cleared it through my supervising partner and a few other partners for whom I did work. I asked for two days off and the partners seemed accommodating, one even taking the time to ask me about Ninja (my dog).
The day before I had planned to put my dog to sleep, one of the partners dumped a load of work on me. I reminded him that I was putting my dog down. He seemed put off, asking me all sorts of questions, finding it preposterous to take two days off, and ending with “just do it and then come back to the office. We need you.”
I was enraged, distraught, and devastated. Sure, I could “do it” and come back. But I didn’t. I took the two days off (one day was a full day with Ninja before he died) and returned on a Thursday, ready to dig in again to the grind. But some of my critical work had been reassigned to someone else and the message to me from at least one partner was clear: you are wimp, someone who has no clue about what it really means to practice law.
Honestly, did I do the right thing? More importantly, should I say something to the partner or just let it go?
A Fortunately or unfortunately, doing the right thing is almost always relative. If you want to know my opinion, yes, you did the right thing. You took two days off to be with a trusted pal before he died. I’m sure some readers will think it’s preposterous to do that for a dog and to do it somewhat defiantly, given the one partner’s last-second demand. But it was right, it was honorable, and it was something your dog deserved for all that he had brought you. Two days. Out of about 4,300 days your dog was at your side. Or, to put it in better perspective, more than 15,000 days you’ll probably spend working for the man.
That said, the partner probably thinks you did the exact wrong thing, obviously not understanding that humans are capable of being sentient and caring beings. Fuck him. Though the thing is, the partner will forget about it, if he hasn’t already. So, unless you want to go on a crusade to raise awareness about pet bereavement policies in the firm (generally not recommended), let it go. Chalk it up as perhaps one more reason to leave that job if or when you can. Or one more reason to avoid the asshole partner who has no clue about human compassion.