A few years ago I was on a cycling holiday - on my own - in remote mountainous countryside in the north of Greece. One day, I came across a dog lying by the side of the road. I had passed quite a few dead animals: dogs, a horse, sheep, but this dog was alive.

It was a large dog, probably a sheepdog. It looked to be in reasonable shape but it was motionless. It was a very hot day and there was no shade at all. I guessed it had been hit by a car although there was no sign of blood or wounds, at least on the side I could see.

I found myself at a complete loss as to what to do for the dog. I've thought about it often since and I can't even think of a way to rationalise the situation satisfactorily.

There was no help available. No traffic on the road to flag down. Probably an hour's riding since I had seen any habitation or human beings and I had no idea how far ahead I would have to travel to find more (it turned out to be a long way).

Rabies was a thing there and I was scared to get too close to the dog. I had no medicines with me. I could possibly have dashed the dog's brains out with rocks but I couldn't bring myself to do that. There was no mobile phone coverage at all.

In the end I cycled on, hoping the dog would die quickly without suffering too much. But I've always felt bad about that decision.

Any thoughts on what I could have done better, or even how to process a difficult decision such as this?

  • 1
    It's just the circle of life. His time had apparently run out. Would the situation have been any different if he'd been off the side of the road where you wouldn't have seen him? Don't stress out over your decision.
    – topshot
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 13:25
  • 1
    Are you 100% sure it was dying and not just resting because it was hot and tired?
    – B540Glenn
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 17:34
  • @B540Glenn That was my first thought, but I was sufficiently convinced by the time I got off my bike that it wasn't just resting. The heat was fierce and I'm sure it could have found some shade if it had been healthy. As I approached it, it followed me with its eyes but otherwise lay limp. So, yes, quite sure. Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


If I had a 22lr and if it was legal, I would consider putting it out of its misery with that, otherwise you did the correct thing.

When there is no practical way to save it, and you only risk injury to yourself then the correct thing is to keep yourself safe and stay beyond where it could hurt you and potentially give you rabies (even non-rabid dogs can cause major injuries).

In your situation there was nothing you could do to improve the situation, and therefore there is nothing you failed to do. Nature is cruel and stuff like that happens.

  • 3
    "When there is no practical way to save and you only risk injury to yourself" - this is true of more than just dogs as well, especially if in the process of attempting to save something/someone else you risk endangering or killing yourself +1
    – Aravona
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 7:58
  • @Aravona and in a more general sense, you can often just get yourself into trouble and then need someone else to endanger themselves to rescue you. Not true of a half-catatonic dog, perhaps, but very true of the concept of 'rescue' in general. Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 17:50

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