Tuesday, November 20, 2012



He was more than anything a sweetheart.

He loved to meet other dogs on our walks, and if one got aggressive he'd defend himself, but I never heard him growl threateningly at any other being, not another dog, not a cat, not a human.

He was great for teaching the kids in the neighborhood how to pet a dog. "Oh look! A doggy! Can I pet him?" They'd come rushing up. I'd stop them. "Let me show you how to pet a dog . . . . don't run up behind him, come around to where he can see you coming. Don't run at him. Be sure the owner says it's okay. Now put your hand out and let him smell it. Now you can pet him." Bo stood patiently. The kids would beam, proud of their new dog-petting skill, as they petted him. The next time they saw us, they'd say, "Miss! Watch! I remember how!" And they'd show off for their friends, "This is how you pet a dog."

On Halloween, he helped me with the trick-or-treaters, letting me know they were coming up the walk before the doorbell rang. As I admired costumes and distributed candy, he was out on the porch collecting pets and attention. He had a great time.

I resisted adopting him at first. My daughter rescued him and his sister Mali, and when she tried to convince me I should take him, I stupidly listened to friends who said, "Don't let her talk you into taking that dog. You already have a dog, and cats. You don't need another pet." But I rediscovered my spine, quit listening to other people's opinions and he became my dog.

One of my friends who was absolutely adamant that I shouldn't adopt him was Melanie. I have no idea why she objected. She had always had dogs herself and was a huge animal lover, rescuing and fostering all kinds of needy pets over the years. I think she was convinced that my daughter had me wrapped around her little finger and that I needed to occasionally stand up to her just on principle.

Soon after I got him, I took him over to her house, which pissed her off. He was six months old at the time. "He'll chase my cats. Is he housebroken?" I told her not to worry, he could stay in her backyard while we visited. "He'll whine and bark and scratch at the door. I'm not in the mood to deal with a puppy." She was battling cancer, and was not having a particularly good day.

Bo sat on her patio just outside the sliding glass doors for two hours, content. Never scratched, barked, whined, or chased any cats. Just seemed to be enjoying the day, patiently waiting for me to come get him and take him for another ride in the car. By the time I left, she grudgingly admitted that maybe I was right to take him, that he really was the good dog I'd been telling her about. That my daughter was right. I needed this dog. He needed me.

I always called him "the doggiest dog." "The essence of dog." A very handsome boy.

He was never any trouble. His housebreaking never failed. He always came when he was called. Never chewed or damaged anything. He was never sick.

He chased my cat Penny full tilt across the yard and then skidded to a halt when she reached the porch, sat down, and turned to look at him like "Ha! Beat you!" Barked at squirrels and the possum who lives under the porch and who sometimes tries to steal a tomato. Danced and bucked like a pony with excitement when I got the pet foods out. Danced even more and squealed with even more excitement when I got out the shoes that meant we were going for a walk.

He loved the greenbelt and running free there.

He was usually right behind me when I went out to the backyard, but not always. Except when I headed out the door with a laundry basket. Then he had to go with me, every time. I never understood why he thought I always needed his help to hang clothes on the line, or to take them down. Some things will be forever a mystery, I suppose.

He had a great time when the new siding was being put up. The gate stayed open while they worked so he could roam freely from back yard to front yard, which he seemed to find a special bonus, supervising the work. I always let him out when I heard them drive up and he made them smile, being greeted by "such a good dog he is!" at the beginning of their work day. And of course, Dana always had a doggie treat in her pocket for him.

He was my dog, and I was his human, for nine years. My faithful canine companion. I don't know how many times I told my daughter. "Thank you for talking me into taking Bo. He is the best dog."

The doggiest dog. The essence of dog.

It's hard to head to bed and not hear his patter up the stairs behind me. It's hard even to walk out my door to leave the house without going to pet him, telling him, "Be a good doggie. Guard the house. Take care of the kitties." How do you take a walk by yourself? Or hang laundry? Who will defend the tomatoes from the possum?

No comments: