Governor Kristi Noem didn’t have to shoot her dog. She wanted

I trust the readers of the Editorial Board will correct me if I’m wrong when I say I don’t remember paying any attention to Kristi Noem. The Republican governor of South Dakota pops into my field of vision every now and then, most recently as the leading vice presidential candidate for Donald Trump. But other than that I wasn’t interested.

Even after that I wasn’t interested anymore The guard on April 26 told the story of the time she shot and killed her 14-month-old dog, an episode she recounts in her new book: No Turning Back: The Truth About What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward.

While sensational and humiliating (for Noem), I didn’t think the story had legs. There might be something to say, but by the time I said it, something else would come along and demand our attention.

Noem wrote that the dog, named Cricket, was “untrainable” and “dangerous to anyone she came into contact with” and “less than worthless… as a hunting dog.” She tried hunting with older dogs to train her, but that failed. The dog “went crazy with excitement, chasing all those birds and having the time of her life.”

Later, Cricket escaped from Noem’s truck to attack chickens on a nearby farm, ‘killing’ one of them with one bite and then dropping it to attack another. Noem said, “I realized I had to put her down.”

Noem took the puppy to a gravel pit.

“It was not a pleasant job, but it had to be done.”

The response was impressive. It wasn’t just the quote-unquote-effete liberals who were outraged. Even the rightmost trolls rejected. Politics reported that Noem had “made a serious miscalculation.”

“The specifics of her story about the dog murder — Noem described how she got her gun, led Cricket to a gravel pit and knocked her out with a single shot — made her seem cruel and uncaring. The backlash to her story continues to ripple through news cycle after news cycle, potentially torpedoing her chances of becoming a vice presidential candidate.”

That’s what catches my attention: that this otherwise forgettable story continues to “chew through news cycle after news cycle.” The story broke three weeks ago. Yet Noem was on Fox last night.

Host Jesse Watters, that putz, seemed eager to repair her public image. He had her characterize her choice as one any mother would make to protect her children from a “cruel” animal that attacked humans “for the joy of it.” It would be a parody if the point wasn’t to convince Donald Trump that Noem is a viable VP choice.

This is where I have something to say.

Name probably loved to kill her dog.

I say “probably” because I am neither a therapist nor a mind reader. But all things considered, she wanted to shoot that dog. She wanted to cause suffering, not alleviate it. I suspect this is the true basis for her decision, and the true beginning and end of the story. Everything else is a rationalization for doing something she already knew she shouldn’t do.

The key here is this: “It had to be done,” she said.


There’s a lot you can do with a dog you don’t want. You can give it away. You can send it to a shelter. You can hire a dog trainer. You can put it on serious sedatives. You can dump it on the side of the road. The point is that there is a lot of choice. Some good, some bad. She didn’t have to shoot her dog. Saying that she had to rationalize her desire to do that.

She doesn’t stop there in her book. Rationalization became deception. She suggests that shooting a dog is completely normal when working with animals. “We love animals,” she wrote, “but on a farm, difficult decisions like this happen all the time. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we had to put down three horses that had been in our family for 25 years.”

That’s a scammer.

People who work with animals on farms and ranches don’t actually shoot animals because they are “useless.” Animals cost money. If they don’t serve their purpose, find another purpose! Either way, if you choose to shoot an animal, then so be it usage is beside the point. The suffering is the point. I assume that those three horses that had been in Noem’s family for 25 years were slaughtered because they were suffering from old age and illness.

Her dog, it repeats itself, was 14 months old.

No, she wanted to shoot that dog.

More importantly, she wanted to talk about shooting her dog, because talking about shooting her dog sends a message, not just to Donald Trump, who might pick her as a vice presidential candidate.

In her book, she says the story illustrates her willingness to do something “hard, messy and ugly” if she has to. Democracy is full of choices, but authoritarians like her don’t see them. Like Cricket, someone has to suffer, and she is willing to inflict that suffering.

While I was writing, Noem was going on Newsmax. An anchor there accused her of fabricating a meeting with the North Korean dictator, which is recounted in her book. I should have known better than to spend my day writing about her. Something else came along that took our attention away from her dog shooting story. I just didn’t know that Noem would admit he was right and fall to pieces on live television.