Please bear with me; this is more therapy on my end than anything else. With 3 dogs here and 1 back in Georgia (all in the latter stages of their lives), I need to find a better way to deal with grief than sitting in bed and crying or watching the stock market tank. I guess it will be writing.
Dogs have always been a part of my life and my family. Karen and I currently have 3 labradors that we love very much; even when one of them (LUCY) pees all over the dining room without any remorse.
This is the closest that she gets to expressing guilt.
When I was growing up in Georgia, there was only one month of my life that we didn't own a dog. We had Daphne before I was born, got Chloe when I was about 13, and Sasha when I was 17.
All of them had very unique personalities and quirks. They all were wonderful pets that were much more than pieces of living property; they were a part of our family.
Our dogs were also all a breed that was my mom's favorite: dachshunds.
You know, the ones that look like hot dogs.
Please do not take that literally
During my sophomore year of college, my mom decided that it was time to rescue a dog rather than buy one from a breeder. She constantly scoured pet orphan and rescue sites on AOL (an ancient form of internet access first used by the colonists).
She was heart broken at many of the stories that she read, particularly that of a chocolate boy dachshund named Bo.
Through a series of mishaps and bad luck, Bo had been in 4 different homes. At his final stop before us, we were told that he was basically bought as playmate for a much bigger dog.
He also did not get along at all with the owner's son, who was a dark haired musician.
Wait...that describes me, too!
The only thing that seemed to make him happy at this home was a plush toy in the shape of a pig, which his owner said he could not take with him.
His coat had all types of spots and scabs all over it and his fur was very coarse. His last owner had tried multiples treatments and shampoos, but he remained a mangy looking pup. We also noticed that he had some nasty scars; two in particular that were in the exact shape and position of two teeth biting down over his head and neck.
When my mom brought him home, he was incredibly passive. He just sat on her lap with a dull, lifeless stare. Chloe and Sasha, who normally would go ballistic at the sight of another dog on their turf, simply sniffed him all over as he continued to just silently sit there. After that, they all went upstairs and took a nap together on the futon.
Sasha found his use as a pillow to be adequate
During the next few days, Bo would do things that were a dead give away that he had been abused. If a spray bottle of disinfectant was brought out to clean up a mess left by one of the dogs, he would sprint off into another room, curl up, and shake in fear. He once reacted the same way to my mom simply raising her hair brush to her hair.
Whenever he heard my dad's footsteps coming up the stairs, he would run out of the room. My dad would plead with Bo to come back, which eventually he began to do. (My dad would later joke that this would be a proper sign of respect that we should all do whenever he entered a room).
From that day forward, he always wore his paintball gear around the house
As the weeks went by, things began to change. Bo began playing with Sasha, which she was not thrilled about at first, but tolerated it. What she did like to do was cuddle and sleep with him in their crate, on the couch, or in the middle of the floor.
He worshipped the ground that the alpha female, Chloe, walked on. She would allow him an occasional kiss or to sit next to her, but rarely more than that.
You will speak of this to no one!
He also became incredibly attached to my mom. He constantly wanted to be next to her and felt that it was his job to defend her at all costs.
He once bit my cousin, Eric, in the crotch simply for greeting her with a hug.
Another time when my mom had a meeting, we put up a baby gate so that he could not get into the kitchen. He stuck his little paws between the mesh wiring and began to climb over it like Spider-Man.
He would even admonish my father and I for ever hugging or kissing Mom by barking and nipping at us.
At this point, Dad and I both began wearing our gear at home for protection
As you can probably tell, Bo had a serious issue with men; this was most likely because he was abused by one...who was a dark haired musician...which really helped us kick things off on the right foot when I met Bo for the first time on a trip home from Kentucky.
Despite constantly snarling in my direction for the first 24 hours, Bo eventually warmed up to me. The next time I came home, he jumped all over me like a cricket and I was unable to keep him from licking my face. I also noticed that his coat had lost many of the spots and scabs that had covered it before. My parents had not tried any type of treatment; it just went away.
We found this in his bed, but he denied everything
Bo was also beginning to succeed at the long process of winning over Chloe. He would constantly provoke and taunt her until she would give up and chase him up and down the hall; Bo of course would be flashing a huge grin on his face the entire time.
We sometimes even caught her giving him a kiss on the face (after looking around to make sure that none of her loyal subjects were observing) or cuddling even more with him.
Move along! Nothing to see here!
One day, my mom took Bo on a car ride to go meet some of her friends. Chloe cried, paced, and constantly stared out the window, waiting for him to return. When he did, she pretended to be annoyed as he hopped around and licked her face, but we all knew better.
He would always cuddle and show affection to the two girls whenever he could. He would lick Sasha's face and clean her eyes, which she loved. He would use Chloe as a pillow when he slept; if you dared tried to move him, Chloe would snap and bare her teeth.
This won't look so cute if you reach down here and lose a finger.
Speaking of teeth, Chloe hated the teeth cleaning treatments that we gave to all the dogs. This required her to be flipped over on her back, a submissive position that a true alpha queen would never allow. As Chloe snarled and gave my mom dirty looks, Bo would stand right next to her and watch, like a little brother watching his older sibling getting punished.
Bo's other new sibling, Sasha, was also a constant source of adoration and entertainment for him. Before we got Bo, Sasha had become sedentary and fat. My mom would often describe her as a "plump, brown, furry tick."
Once Bo came into the picture, that all changed. Sasha began playing more and losing weight; in fact, she became about the most active "elderly" dog you could ever hope to see. She constantly wanted someone to throw the tennis ball for her so that she and Bo could chase it down and fight over it. At the age of 13, Sasha was healthier, happier, and more playful than she had been as a puppy.
The three dogs had become a quirky, playful, and inseparable pack.
Their attempts at trend setting in doggy ear fashion, however, failed miserably.
As Bo's coat became more beautiful and shiny, his personality continued to shine through, as well. When he was excited about something (like dinner being served or someone coming home), he would celebrate by taking a tennis ball, running up the stairs, dropping it back down the stairs, and chasing it. He would repeat this so many times, he would often forget the cause of the celebration all together.
We also discovered that Bo was quite the ladies man. For some reason, Bo had an uncanny ability to make women instantly fall in love with him. He also developed the peculiarly bad habit of lightly biting women on the butt whenever they stopped paying attention to him.
While this would normally result in an arrest and/or psychiatric evaluation for a person, it somehow made women love Bo even more; they couldn't get enough of him.
Pimpin' ain't easy
Any girl that I brought over to the house on visits home, whether it be a girlfriend or a friend, was instantly smitten by Mr Bo Bo's charm.
My wife (back when she was my girlfriend) did not believe me about Bo's animal magnetism. She did not care for little 'yappy dogs,' as she called them, and just hoped that Bo could be tolerated.
Once Karen actually met Bo, she fell so head over heals for him that I began to think that I had dropped to 2nd place in the order of her affections.
Your woman is mine now, nancy boy!
Bo also became a creature of habit, possessing one of the most accurate and consistent body clocks of any animal that you could imagine. At precisely 6:00 PM every evening, Bo would begin begging for dinner. If we were watching TV, he would actually wait for commercial breaks, then start pestering us again.
If he had to go to the bathroom, he would run over to one of us, lick your face once, and stare. If that didn't work, he would do it again until we got the message. He would also use his paw to ring a set of bells that we had on the door if he wanted to go out.
After dinner, Bo would fall asleep early in the evening. He may have not been much of a night dog, but he would always be the first one up early in the morning to wake Dad up.
My family often woke up to the sound of Bo tearing through the house at incredible speeds, a huge grin on his face as he happily started another day.
We also found this in his crate; but again, he denied everything.
Bo became a very happy dog that constantly showed affection and a sparkling personality. His coat was shiny and he always had a happy expression on his face.
The only time that we saw Bo revert back to the scared shell that he was before was when he slept. I know that dogs dream and make sounds in their sleep, but this was different. Bo would cry and sound so distressed that we would wake him up. Sometimes he would even wake up shaking, his eyes wide with fear. At times like these, my dad would say that he wished Bo could talk so that we could know more about his past.
Bo more and more looked at my mom as if she hung the moon. Maybe it was for rescuing him; maybe he was just a natural momma's boy. Whatever the case, while he loved all of us, he was definitely Mom's dog.
Dad and I used to joke that "It sure pays to be Mom's favorite." Bo could get away with a lot more than any of the other dogs could. He was also often picked to be the one dog to accompany the family on trips while the others stayed at the kennel.
He also expected full use of the king sized bed.
Bo was also one of the most empathetic animals you could hope to meet. When my grandfather was dying of cancer, Bo stayed right by his side in the bed during our visit.
If one of us was upset or sad, Bo wanted to be sitting right there with us.
When Chloe's health began to deteriorate, Bo constantly kept vigil next to her, licking her face, comforting her, and sleeping next to her day and night. After Chloe passed, Bo was visibly upset. While Sasha was too scared to get near Chloe's body, Bo went up to it and gave her a kiss. Weeks later, he would still give a gentle kiss to her collar if we showed it to him.
After a few months, my family got a new dog named Sammy (because for some reason, our equilibrium must remain at 3 dogs).
Sammy was crazy about Bo. Despite his older age and Sammy's propensity for biting him in the crotch, Bo never snapped or snarled at her; in fact, he often indulged the fury ball of energy and even played with her, too.
There was one time that Bo decided that he had had enough. He took Sammy, flipped her over...and peed on her, officially marking her as his underling. This of course just made Sammy even more smitten with him; it seems that Bo can do no wrong in the eyes of any female.
Of course I won't be pressing charges; thanks for the rinse off!
During this time, Sasha's health began to deteriorate as well. Just like with Chloe, Bo stayed by her side, kissed her, and comforted her. The little stalwart man would play with Sammy, take care of Sasha, and still have time to be with his humans. He even began staying up later in the evenings to make more time for everyone.
When I last visited Georgia in April, Bo was ecstatic to see me, as usual. He would leap into my lap and curl up into a ball or lay next to me as I watched the Atlanta Hawks finally do well in the playoffs.
On the night before I left, Bo jumped into my bed, layed across my chest, and refused to get up. He normally sprinted towards my parents' room and my mom's side of the bed when it was time to go to sleep, but for some reason he was adamant about staying in the room with me.
About a week ago, Bo's health suddenly and rapidly began to deteriorate. Bo had seemed perfectly healthy and happy, but the onset of pancreatitis came and began to wreak havoc on his insides.
He fought like hell, but in the end, the only option besides his life ending was going through a few more days of terrible pain before a still inevitable passing.
On August 3, 2011, we said goodbye to a beloved member of our family.
I'm going to miss you so much, Bo. I'm going to miss how happy you made my mom. I'm going to miss how you sometimes needed your "guy time" and would want to hang out with just me or Dad. I'm going to miss how much love, care, and affection you showed to Chloe, Sasha, and Sammy. I'm going to miss how you jumped around like a cricket and your tail wagged so fast it became a blur whenever I came home to visit.
Thank you for all the love and happiness that you brought to me and my family. I hope that where your soul is resting, you can finally lay your head down and sleep without having any bad dreams.