Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Tale of the Spotted One

Bobob was approx. 3 years old when he came home with us. He had been in the shelter for about 6 months, and, though plenty of people thought he was pretty, no one ever took more interest than that. Enter me - who fell instantly in love with his floppy ears and funky spots. Even though he was a little aloof, he had a spark in his eyes that I couldn't resist. Needless to say, he came home with me.

He started out living outside in our fenced yard with a dog house. We really weren't sure how he would do indoors, and we had two indoor dogs at that time. Later, we began integrating him indoors, and he did remarkably well! He was very intelligent and quick to learn. For example, once he learned grabbing the leash meant a walk, he would make a beeline for the door and hop up and down until he was on the leash and out the door.

He liked me, but he LOVED Josh, my husband. When he would see me, he would wag his tail with flare, but, when he saw Josh, he whirled his tail around in circles like he could propel himself toward Josh faster. On the couch, he would slowly creep toward his human target until he had made it in their lap, where he would lay his head on their chest and go to sleep.

If you're wondering why I keep saying things in past tense, it's because he died today. Bobob "Bo" Lodge died around 2:00 PM today.

It was around 4:30 AM and Axle was waking me up, pacing and breathing in my face. I thought he just wanted attention, but he knew something was wrong with Bo. When I came into the living room, Bo was convulsing violently on the floor. He had already lost control of his salivary glands and bladder. I guess I should've known it was over then, but I tried to calm him down, then headed to the vet.

The immediately gave him a heavy dose of diazepam and told me they would let me know how it went. If it was epilepsy, he would come out of the stupor with little to no seizing. No luck. They dosed him three times with that medication and once with another, all high doses, yet he still seized. He was having trouble breathing and his body temperature was so low he was shaking. His face was paralyzed, and he had no control over his tongue.

The vet said they could try some other medications, but knowing he had seized for over 3 hours straight, I knew the neurological damage would be beyond repair.

I let him go.

He didn't hear my goodbye, or that I was sorry that I lied. I had promised he would be okay if we could just get to the doctor.

He didn't feel my hand, running down his soft fur one last time, caressing his toes, or stroking his ears.

He didn't feel my tears, as they landed on his distorted face.

He didn't feel my kisses, as I planted them on his nose and forehead.

He didn't feel the needle, and he didn't feel his last breath.

He was gone, long before the anesthesia hit his bloodstream.

My husband said when I left with Bo, Axle tore through the back door to look for him. He checked the couches, the bedroom, the hall, and the bathroom. When I got home, he sniffed the floor where Bo had been. He sniffed me, and gave me a questioning look. He knew I was upset, but he wasn't sure why. He just knew Bo wasn't here.

Bo would never be back. He'd never play "My Paw!" again, or burrow between the couch cushions. He'd never streak from the bath tub like a naked kid again. No, Bobob's earthly time was spent, and it was time for him to go. He left good memories, warm hugs, and inspiration behind.

He left the inspiration that shelter dogs shouldn't be taken at face value. The smartest people can't do more than give their best bet at what breed a dog is, so no one should put stock in breed labels, only put stock in the dog itself. He also left the inspiration that a dog can come from an unknown background, spend time in a shelter and almost go kennel crazy, yet come out a shining star of a dog.

He was the first dog I ever got to take to Victorian Christmas, something I've ALWAYS wanted to do! He performed wonderfully, and made lots of children laugh and smile.

He left lots of laughs in this house - his funky ears and his "I'm excited" dance were hilarious. He would sway his hips like a dancer if you scratched his butt. If you towel-dried him after a bath, he'd pounce on the couch, give you this craaaazy look, then wallow on the couch like it was the best thing ever. His favorite toy was a zebra squeaky toy that looked a lot like him...really, if you took a picture with it, you couldn't see it next to him!

He left warm hugs from the night we had to put Otto down (see previous blog post). He was understanding and loving - he knew we needed his comforts, even if those hugs meant inhaling lots of doggie hairs.

He's buried next to Otto now, in the sandy clay that our house sits on. He's not there, though. He's somewhere else, heaven, maybe. If it's true we have to live multiple lives because we just haven't gotten things right yet, then being a dog must be the last step. Dogs love unconditionally, forgive continuously, and are loyal to a fault. They have a sense of wisdom and understanding that reaches beyond language and touches the soul. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a dog's eyes tell the stories of a million lives. How close to God might we be if only we could be more like a dog?

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When I was struggling with the idea of letting Bobob go, I couldn't help but feel some sort of guilt - that nagging if-only-I'd-seen-this-coming-I-could-have-saved-him feeling. I was at peace with my decision, an indication that it was the right one, but I couldn't help but feel the negative. I could be the world's worst dog parent. In my time as a dog owner, I've had three dogs die - a 6 month old lab that was hit by a car, Otto, and now Bobob.

These ill-fated creatures remind me of all of the other ones that have crossed my path - the crippled bluebird that fell from a nest that I made a paper nest for and dug worms up to feed it. It died 2 days after "saving" it. The 3-legged calf that we bottle fed and I took a special liking to...that still ended up on someone's dinner table. The numerous turtles, butterflies, birds, and lizards...the chickens that were picked on, the duck no one wanted (and had neurological issues)...the list could go on.

What does this mean? Am I the curse that causes these helpless animals to die? Or am I some sort of vessel of comfort to give them hope, give them love in their final days.

I can't say I'll never have a dog again. I still have Axle, and I know there are so many dogs out there that need loving homes, though I don't know that they need mine. I don't know when I'll take that step. It's wounding, losing a pet. It breaks your heart, breaks your wallet ($346 poorer, not counting the $350 I already had invested in him...after only 3 mos), breaks your will...

But, sick as it may sound, I still have hope. I have hope that I'm not some sort of cursed pet parent, that I do give dogs love and a good home, that maybe I am attracted to the throwaways, the special needs ones that others pass over...I guess you could call it an underdog syndrome. I know what it's like to be underestimated, and there's so much potential in every thing that has the privilege of being alive. Heck, even marble has potential, and it doesn't breathe!

So here's to Bobob, may he be forever happy, wherever he may be, and here's to any future dogs, may they live the life they were meant to be, however long or short that is.

2 comments:

  1. My daughter sent me your blog, knowing full well I would cry as I read it - and I did. I have been blessed with many dogs in my life and I cannot imagine life without a dog by my side. Last year I lost my Maggie who had been with me for almost 15 years and I am here to tell you, 15 years, 15 months, 15 days ~ if you truly love them it hurts like h--- to lose them. But I agree with you totally, what they leave behind is priceless and for all the pain that I still feel from the empty spot Maggie left, the happiness she brought me still puts a smile on my face!

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    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comment. I'm sorry about your Maggie - she sounds like a very loved and loving dog. :) You're absolutely right - however long you have with them, it hurts to say goodbye. Heck, it hurts to say goodbye to the shelter babies when I leave. We love them for who they are, enjoy them in the time we have, and cherish the memories they leave behind.

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