Dog Days: “We love him; he’s ruining our lives” states loyal caregiver, Louise Aronson, about her family dog, Byron (Aronson, 17). This author faces one of life’s most difficult choices: life or death? While being a controversial topic, Louise does a good job supporting her positive views of euthanasia. She argues that euthanasia is the merciful, ethical decision throughout her article. Imagery aids this trusted resource’s point; ironically, she seems to paint an aura of lightheartedness at first.
Piggybacking on pathos helps drive her point home on such an emotionally involved topic, for she shares her own personal struggle.
Emotional involvement is one of the best strategies to use with a touchy subject like euthanasia. Louise decides to stay away from statistics and facts, rather, she reasons with the reader, and her word choice is just icing on the cake of her argument. Louise can captivate readers with her use of imagery, and she uses this to her advantage in persuading others to think the same as her.
Starting with what seems to be the beginnings of an anti-euthanasia pitch, this author decides to cause uneasiness for the reader halfway through the article. She begins painting a vulgar image of her beloved dog as she states, “pus dripped from his red, swollen eyes” (12). This, earlier described as cute dog that enjoyed, “[toddling] along happily on his daily walks,” is now being portrayed as gross and diseased(3). This quick turnaround forces the reader to revise their previously thought up image of a playful puppy: replacing it with an old decrepit dog that is much more suited for death.
Showing the dog as disgusting and less lively helps the reader sympathize with the writer’s final decision to euthanize her dog. After telling the reader that she is finally going to kill the dog, Louise revisits the cute puppy idea saying, “he ran to me, wiggling his tail,” but she quickly counters once again by continuing her story to when, “he followed [her] to the bathroom and vomited… onto the floor at [her] feet” (14-15). These gross images are the last thing the reader imagines before the death of Louise’s dog, and it allows the reader to feel the kill was a merciful one.
The imagery is strong in this article, and so too are the emotional connections that the reader makes. Louise decides to write of the trials her family went through together in order to affect the reader’s emotions. Her family makes the choice to abstain from vacationing due to the fact that they did not trust a dog sitter or anyone outside of their family, “to provide the care [they] thought Byron required” (2). Right away, the writer affirms her and her family’s caring for their dog. She makes sure to express how much sacrifice is put into keeping the dog around.
As a pet owner myself, I understand some of the effort that goes into raising a dog. She makes the reader feel sorry for her dog themselves when she expresses that it cannot even eat solid food without spitting it up any longer. After the death of her dog, Louise expresses that she, “wondered whether [she] waited too long” (17). This specific phrase not only affirm that she believes to have done the right thing; this is meant to guilt a reader that does not put their suffering loved one down. The reader feels they can trust Louise since she is sharing something that makes her vulnerable in the process.
Louise causes sympathy and guilt, and she allows us to feel safe in trusting her as we believe she lets down her guard. As an audience, we feel we can trust this writer, for she gives us reason to do so. Louise reasons through her decision with the reader in a way that makes us believe she does the right thing. This entire article is one big reason as to how a loving caregiver chooses to euthanize her loved one. She expresses her thoughts on matters rather than showing evidence. She proposes a question—“what did Byron want”—to readers to force them to explore this question throughout the rest of the article as well (5).
After this question is brought up, Byron begins to be described as less than desiring to live. She describes him as in pain and having numerous health problems. In this way, Louise hopes that the reader will see why she chose to put him out of his misery. She hopes to convince the reader into believing what she did had to be done. I find it hard to believe good times ceased to exist, but I do think it is a good strategy to portray the dog as not wanting to live at this point. My first time through this article, I saw things her way with little to no problem, but there is also a flaw with her reasoning.
She makes out as caring, but she tells of how Byron, “shook, panted, climbed up [their] bodies, and tugged on his leash, his tiny body straining for the door” whenever they went to the vet (12). If she cared so much for her dog, why did she continue to take him to the vet when he clearly did not want to go? She sees Byron’s hatred of the vet as proof of him being in pain, but I see it as proof of her putting him in a painful, unnecessary situation. Perhaps, if Louise had taken him to the vet when she euthanized him instead of calling pet hospice, perhaps Byron would have put up more of a fight for his life.
Aside from that, Louise does a good job at proving her point, but she sure does choose her words very carefully. The words Louise uses mold her argument into a force to be reckoned with. She makes us understand how important their dog is by referring to the rest of her family as “the humans of [her] family” (14). We see that their dog was really a part of the family. This makes her decision to euthanize her dog even more heart-wrenching. The reader believes that if Louise thinks she still made the right decision after all she has unveiled to us, euthanasia must be the right decision in some cases.
In the end, Louise refers to medicine as “posion in [the] blood” (20). Medicine is what keeps our species alive so much longer than in centuries past. She believes this medicine to be poison: one would never have to make the decision to end another’s life if they were not kept alive so much longer in the first place. I try to avoid taking medicine if at all possible in my own everyday life. I could see where medicine could be a type of poison, and this word—poison—leaves a mark on the reader. It makes the author’s message resonate in us as we leave the text itself, and her message is a strong one.
According to Louise, euthanasia is the only merciful thing to do sometimes. After reading, rereading, and reviewing Louise’s work, I think I can safely say that she does an excellent job at supporting her viewpoint on euthanasia. The writer uses imagery effectively in this article; she both captures the reader’s attention and uses mental images to help shape the reader’s view. Louise shares her personal story, and she does well when it comes to connecting with her audience while simultaneously talking of her personal experience.
Reasoning through her decision is a smart move on Louise’s part; if someone were to say they killed their dog, I would hope they would have a good reason. I believe that she made the right decision in putting down her dog, so I buy into her reasoning. The last of one of Louise’s strongest weapons in this argument, her word choice, adds the last touch of effectiveness that her article needs. This article is delicious, and if it were a pizza, I’d buy it. Bibliography Aronson, Louise. “Weighing the End of Life. ” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.
Cite this A Rhetorical Analysis of an Article on Euthanasia
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