Nolte: Kristi Noem Shot Her Dog and Political Future in the Head

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem answers a question while taking part in a panel discussion d
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) has committed the most astounding act of political suicide since Gary Hart.

By many accounts, Noem, a popular governor with a growing national brand, was on former President Trump’s vice presidential shortlist. Even if he didn’t choose her, there was little doubt Noem had a political future—she’s a beauty with made-for-TV looks, conservative, rural, and, in this era consumed by identity politics, being a woman doesn’t hurt. One could easily see her assuming a role in a future President Trump’s cabinet, and then running for president in 2028.

Not anymore.

In her upcoming political book, No Going Back, undoubtedly written to boost her chances of becoming Trump’s VP pick, Noem…

  1. Admits to shooting a 14-month-old puppy in the head.
  2. Portrays the shooting of a 14-month-old puppy in the head as a virtuous act of leadership that proves she’s ready to make the tough decisions.

According to the far-left Guardian’s account of Noem’s story (which Noem has not disputed), here’s how it went down…

“Cricket was a wirehair pointer, about 14 months old,” Noem writes, adding that the female dog had an “aggressive personality.” Noem took the dog pheasant hunting, hoping to calm her down by teaching her to hunt. Instead, Cricket ruined everything by going “out of her mind with excitement, chasing all those birds and having the time of her life.”

After that disastrous hunt, Noem said she stopped to see a neighbor. Cricket then jumped out of the truck and ravaged the neighbor’s chickens, “grabb[ing] one chicken at a time, crunching it to death with one bite, then dropping it to attack another.” When Noem grabbed the dog’s collar to stop the chicken massacre, Noem said Cricket “whipped around to bite me.”

Noem claims the dog acted like a “trained assassin” that day, but was also “the picture of pure joy.”

Noem admitted that she “hated that dog” and decided Cricket was “untrainable [and] dangerous to anyone she came in contact with.”

“At that moment,” Noem says, “I realized I had to put her down.” And so…

Noem took Cricket out to a gravel pit and shot her dead.

Elsewhere in the book, Noem tells the story of putting down a “nasty and mean” goat the same way in the same gravel pit.

On Sunday, after the puppycide story broke, Noem released a Xwitter statement that said in part:

I can understand why some people are upset about a 20 year old story of Cricket, one of the working dogs at our ranch, in my upcoming book — No Going Back. The book is filled with many honest stories of my life, good and bad days, challenges, painful decisions, and lessons learned.

Whether running the ranch or in politics, I have never passed on my responsibilities to anyone else to handle. Even if it’s hard and painful. I followed the law and was being a responsible parent, dog owner, and neighbor.

As I explained in the book, it wasn’t easy. But often the easy way isn’t the right way.

Uhm, no.

Choosing to shoot a 14-month-old dog is what’s “easy.” The “right way” is to accept what it means when you voluntarily assume responsibility for a life. Noem should have taken the time to train Cricket, hired someone else to train her, or put her up for adoption.

Shooting a 14-month-old dog for acting like a 14-month-old dog is reprehensible.

Admitting you shot a 14-month-old dog for acting like a 14-month-old dog in a political book meant to boost your national profile is unforgivable. All Noem has proven is that she is too tone-deaf and lacking in political judgment to be on the national stage.

She will forever be the Lady Puppy Killer.

The jokes will never end.

And she deserves it.

Who shoots a rambunctious 14-month-old dog? Noem even admits the dog was “the picture of pure joy.” So Cricket was not a mean dog. She was immature. That is a dog you can work with.

If an older dog starts biting, that’s a different story. Something’s wrong. I just went through that over Christmas. It wasn’t even my dog, but I’m the one who got bit, and the whole ordeal was heartbreaking. If I were to tell that story, it would be one filled with sadness and regret. The last words I would use would be “hate” or “useless.” I’m still sick over it.

One of my dogs mercilessly bullied his little brother and would regularly nip at me. This went on for at least 18 months. Today, Frankie is ten, and we can’t imagine life without him.

And not for a second do I buy this nonsense about how difficult rural life is. My grandparents were dairy farmers, and in their seventies (when 70 was old), they ended up with a useless dog that could not be trained. They didn’t put it down (and my grandfather was capable of such a thing when necessary). Instead, they built it a shelter inside a fenced pasture. Every day, winter and summer, that dog was fed until it died of natural causes.

Whether it’s a goldfish or a dog, when you assume responsibility for a life, that should mean something more than putting a bullet in its head when it becomes inconvenient.

Noem writes that moments after she shot Cricket, the school bus arrived to drop off her kids… “Kennedy looked around confused,” Noem writes of her daughter, who then asked: “Hey, where’s Cricket?”

Man alive.

John Nolte’s first and last novel, Borrowed Time, is winning five-star raves from everyday readers. You can read an excerpt here and an in-depth review here. Also available in hardcover on Kindle and Audiobook


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