Cricket and Our Dog Rikka

Hersch Wilson
2 min readApr 30, 2024
My only remaining picture of Rikka on one of our adventures on the Minnesota River

This is about Gov Kristi Noem of South Dakota shooting her fourteen-month-old dog, Cricket.

Like her, I, too, grew up in a farming community. Although we didn’t farm, I baled a lot of hay each fall for our neighbors. It was in the sixties, and we had dogs and guns.

The hardest thing I did in my young life was at eighteen, taking our German Shepherd, Rikka, to the vet to be euthanized. She could no longer walk and was in pain every day.

I remember carrying her in the office and then leaving her. I have not forgiven myself for doing that, but it was the norm. (a lamentable excuse)

Unlike Governor Noem with Cricket, we loved Rikka, and it was devastating to lose her.

Although my story with Rikka makes it hard for me to sit in judgment, I cannot imagine shooting a dog. It means putting a healthy dog that loves and trusts you in a gravel pit, as it looks up at you and then aiming and pulling the trigger. Then, hearing a dog cry out in pain and watching him collapse.


This story has infuriated so many of us because how we hold dogs (and other sentient animals) in our minds and imaginations has radically changed in the last few decades (something that Noem seems to have missed). Most understand that we have an obligation to keep our dogs safe. We realize they are not possessions, objects we can do with what we wish, but they have moral standing.

So, what is our response now? It is to love our animals, to treat them with kindness and respect, even the fourteen-month-old puppies (they are ALWAYS wild). We have an obligation to speak out against cruelty and neglect.

Finally, remember what Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Let us resolve that this will be an inflection point for all of us, that we will come home from work and realize what a gift it is to have a dog.

Hersch’s book “Dog Lessons: Learning the important stuff from our Best Friends” is available at bookstores everywhere (Support your local bookstore) and online.



Hersch Wilson

Writer. Retired Firefighter. Dog Lover. Buddhist Beginner.