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Noem Has Gone off the Reservation. Banned from six Indian Reservations and Most of the Conservative News Outlets

For the past two weeks, Kristi Noem has been trying to recover from an epic act of self-sabotage, including a 1,600-word anecdote about killing her dog, Cricket (as well as a goat), in her new memoir, No Going Back. The South Dakota governor and Trump VP prospect’s primary defense strategy has been to blame the “fake news.” While the reasons the media is at fault for talking about stuff Noem wrote in her own book keep shifting, the governor initially accused journalists of leaving out key facts and encouraged people to read the book for themselves.

“You know how the fake news works. They leave out some or most of the facts of a story, they put the worst spin on it, and that’s what happened in this case,” Noem said in a May 1 Hannity interview. “I hope people really do buy this book and they find out the truth of this story.”

It was hard to see how Noem’s tale about fatally shooting her puppy in a gravel pit, which The Guardian relayed days before the book’s release, would be more sympathetic in context. But in the interest of fairness, I obtained a copy of No Going Back.

Somehow, the unedited version of the story is actually worse.

While The Guardian capably conveyed the gist of the story, Noem’s full account is even more unsettling. Here are some details that the “fake news” omitted — probably to Noem’s benefit.

Noem took an insufficiently trained dog on a stressful hunt.
The Cricket anecdote begins with Noem, whose family ran a hunting lodge on their farm, explaining that trying to manage hunting season and harvest season simultaneously is “insane.” During “one particularly stressful year,” Noem hosted a group of regular guests, whom she was determined to show a good time:

“I wanted these guys to have an amazing amount of success on their final morning of hunting before they went back home. It promised to be a fantastic day of bagging pheasant—our state bird.”

So this was already a high-stress situation. And for some reason, Noem decided to bring along Cricket, a 14-month-old dog whose previous owners had “struggled with her aggressive personality.” Noem writes: “I was sure she’d learn a lot going out with our older dogs that day.” But Cricket didn’t learn anything from this on-the-job training, she just scampered around like the excited puppy that she was:

“Within an hour of walking the first field, Cricket had blown past the group, gotten too far ahead, and flushed up birds out of range. She was out of her mind with excitement, chasing all those birds and having the time of her life. The only problem was there were no hunters nearby to shoot the birds she scared up.

I called her back to no avail. I hit her electronic collar to give her a quick tone to remind her to listen. I then hit the button to give her a warning vibration that told her to come back to me. No response.”

Noem recalls they all watched “helplessly” as dozens of pheasants flew away. “The hunt was ruined. I was livid,” she says.

Noem did not secure Cricket in her vehicle.
Somehow, after the disastrous hunt, Noem did not have enough kennels to transport the dogs home. So she decided to leave the one “dangerous” dog that didn’t follow directions loose in the back of her truck:

“After the hunters left for the airport, I started to load kennels in my pickup in order to haul all the dogs back to the ranch. As I loaded the dogs and supplies, I realized I was one kennel short. No matter. I would just let Cricket ride loose in the back end of the truck on the way home. If she was dumb enough to jump out, then good riddance. After what she had pulled that day, I didn’t care.”

Noem stopped to visit some neighbors on the way home, failing to anticipate that her unruly and unrestrained dog might not stay in her vehicle when she saw chickens in the yard. “I caught a glimpse of Cricket launching herself out of the back end of the pickup truck and racing across the yard,” she writes.

Noem says she was angry and rough with the dog.
Maybe Americans could accept a story about a farmer struggling with their guilt and sadness as they were left no choice but to put down a vicious animal. But Noem makes it clear that she was furious at Cricket and blamed the dog for things that weren’t totally her fault.

Noem remarks that she was “livid” after Cricket’s antics during the hunt, and she didn’t care if she wound up abandoned on the side of the road. While describing Cricket attacking the neighbor’s chickens, Noem laments, “She was a trained assassin.” But it seems Noem wanted Cricket to be a bird assassin, and her lack of training was the issue. Noem writes that after the attack, she “threw” Cricket in the car:

“Eventually I got my hand on her collar, and she whipped around to bite me. Shocked, I dragged her back to my pickup and threw her inside the cab. I took my checkbook out, grabbed a pen, slammed the door, and faced the music.

… When I got back into my truck, Cricket was sitting in the passenger seat, looking like she just won the lottery. The picture of pure joy.

I hated that dog.”

Maybe Noem did not literally throw the dog. But her emotions toward Cricket, who doesn’t seem to understand she did anything wrong, seem pretty extreme.

Noem let a goat terrorize her kids for years.

In her Hannity interview, Noem said she killed Cricket and then her goat because she is a responsible mom who had to protect her children. “At the time, I had small children and a lot of small kiddos who worked around our business and people, and I wanted to make sure that they were safe,” she said.

But the book’s full description of Noem’s nightmare goat raises questions about why she let the “nasty” and “filthy” animal chase her kids around for so long:

“This goat had been a problem for years. He was nasty and mean, as most male goats are that are left uncastrated. Male goats urinate on their own heads and beards while in rut, hoping to attract females with their putrid smell. It’s the most disgusting, musky, rancid smell you can imagine.

Not only was this goat constantly covered in his own muck, but he also loved to chase the kids. He would knock them down and butt them. The wretched smell was impossible to get out of their clothes, and we had to burn too many shirts and jeans. Needless to say, the children were terrified of this animal. I would often find them on a fence or piece of equipment, held hostage by the demon goat. So, while taking care of unpleasant business, I decided now was as good a time as any to dispose of this problem, too.”

Noem says the witnesses were scared of her.
Noem has suggested that anyone who questions her story just doesn’t understand how things work in real America. “We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm,” she posted on X hours after the story broke.

But in No Going Back, Noem reveals that her own uncle and the construction workers who witnessed the killing of Cricket and the unnamed goat were disturbed by her behavior:

“Later that evening, my uncle, who was the general contractor building our house, called me and said, ‘What got into you today?’

‘Nothing,’ I responded. ‘Why?’

‘Well, the guys said you came barreling into the yard with your truck, slammed the door, and took a gun and a dog over the hill, out of sight. They heard one shot and you came back without the dog. Then you grabbed the goat and headed back up over the hill. They heard another shot, you came back, slammed the pickup door, went back. Then they heard another shot and then you came back without the goat. They said they hurried back to work before you decided they were next!’”

So, it turns out it’s not just the “fake news” and “unreal” Americans who find Noem’s folksy tale of puppy murder weird and frightening.

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