Swimmers was the third betta we owned (the second to be named so). The first two succumbed fairly quickly to their respective ailments. Swimmers 1.0 was fine one day and then the next he was lifeless at the bottom of the bowl. Stu, our second betta, seemed healthy when we got him from the store but a few weeks later stopped eating and then died a few days later. Swimmers 2.0 developed constipation and he suffered for weeks.
I made the decision to euthanize him after agonizing over it for about two weeks. During that time, Swimmers just got worse and worse. Having made the painful decision to do it, I took a few days to research the most humane method to end his little life. I found myself on the verge of tears several times in the course of this research. When the time came, Swimmers resisted death with a last burst of strength that made me feel horrible about putting him down.
This is not the first time I have had to mercy kill an animal. Like the first time (almost two years ago a baby bird fell out of a nest and broke its wing), I did my best to make sure that the creature suffered as little as possible. In Swimmer’s case, it was a fatal dose of a fishy anesthetic (clove oil, if you ever need to use it). In the birds, it was breaking its little neck. In both cases, I felt horrible about doing it.
I passionately love life. Even when I am suicidally depressed, I still have a deep love of life. The act of ending another life grieves me. I have had times where I seriously considered going vegan because of how much it bothers me that other lives must end so that I may live. But, unlike the case of life feeding on life to survive, the act of extinguishing the life of another creature with no benefit to myself feels dirty.
Galina Krasskrova spoke of miasma a little while back. She mentioned something about how dead bodies are sources of that contagion. I can whole heartedly agree with this proposition and I can state, first hand, that the instant life leaves the body miasma is present. Lingering illness has its own miasmic qualities. In the case of Swimmers 2.0, the miasma of his illness and death had me feeling deeply disturbed and filthy.
Spiritually cleansing helped some with that, as did utterly scouring and cleansing the tank. Still, it took me a little over a week to right myself after that. Swimmers was a typical betta fish. Some people would say that I’m too soft hearted for being as disturbed by the fact that I had to kill him as I was. I am fairly certain that feisty little fish has progressed onto another life. If the way he met his death is any indication of how his next life is going to be, Swimmers in his next incarnation will be a force to be reckoned with.
For my part, I’m going to do my best to honor his memory by making sure that his replacement (a white betta named Ghost) lives a long life. Aside from that, I think it is going to take a while for me to again have warm fuzzy feelings towards the scent of cloves.