A Week of Gratitude, Day Seven - Remembering Boogie

Saturday, December 8, 2012
On Thanksgiving Day, Boogie the Giant Schnauzer progressively lost most of his mobility in his back legs. By the next morning, he couldn't get up, stand, or walk on his own, so we took him to the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center here in Parker, where he was diagnosed with Fibrocartilagenous Embolism (FCE), which is basically a stroke-like event in the spinal cord. He was admitted for supportive care and observation, but his immobility got worse over the critical first 48 hours rather than better. So two weeks ago today, in consultation with the admitting veterinarian, the Smart Man and I decided to put him to sleep.

He lived with us here in the Big Yellow House since shortly after we moved in. I have spent the last eleven years primarily working from home, and he has been my constant companion. The house seems empty without him, and everywhere there are reminders of the gap in our lives that he filled with such joy. My grief is exhausting, exacerbated by my normal holiday depression.

And yet, I am so very grateful to have known this dog, to have had him in my life for the time that he was with us. So today I remember my Boogie, my companion and friend, the sweetest dog in the world.


This was taken the day we brought him home from the airport. He was four months old, and he was terrified. He got over that fairly quickly, and expressed his displeasure at being gated into the utility room by digging a hole in the wall. We crate trained him shortly thereafter.


While his beard was growing in, the Smart Man's best friend insisted that he looked like a Muppet and usually sang the Muppet theme song whenever he saw him. Boogie loved him anyway, and for many years the Smart Friend was his surrogate family when we were out of town. And once his beard actually did grow in, he made a habit of wiping it dry on the leg of his favorite people after each and every drink. Because he was a sharer like that. 


He eventually grew into a rambunctious, beautiful young adult whose shenanigans kept us laughing and on our toes. He almost managed to knock himself out by running into walls (there's still a dent in the corner support in the kitchen). He insisted on barking at his reflection in the mirror. He went through a phase of stealing the meat and cheese from sandwiches (but not the veggies or bread) if you left them unattended. He managed to snag a meatball off a counter as they were draining. His sophisticated appearance was deceiving, as this was goofiest dog on the planet, and in no way effective at hiding his misbehavior.


He was also a very helpful dog, as you can see from this photograph of him assisting me with my knitting.


And helping me water my Marigolds.


Even as he got older, he still remained a very handsome boy, and he managed to win over most everyone he came into contact with. The depth of my love for this animal has always been a little surprising. It's a simple, uncomplicated thing, just like him, and my grief is the same.

 
His most favorite thing to do in the entire world, the thing that measured his quality of life and made us realize that his time with us had come to an end, was his daily walkies. As he got older, I would usually make him wait until the sun came up for us to go, so he started coming downstairs at dawn and head-butting the furniture while I was on the elliptical in an effort to let me know it was TIME. I have walked thousands of miles with this dog, in good weather and bad, and each and every time we went, his attitude was, "Walkies? I've never been on walkies before! This is exciting!" He was always "ready," no matter what was on the agenda. He would not have been a happy dog if his walkies had been denied him, and Boogie was, above all else, a joyful and happy pooch. After his spinal injury, he made it clear to us that he was no longer "ready," and we knew it was time.


I miss my Boogie-Dog, more than I can say. As my old friend Kathy, a devoted animal lover, notes, "The toll we pay for this kind of love is heavy." Indeed it is. But I'm grateful to have loved this dog, and for the time he was a member of our family. We're better people for his presence in our lives, and he was an anodyne for the cynicism that creeps in during stressful times.


The best dog in the world, and worthy, utterly worthy, of both my love and my grief. My good, good boy.

10 comments:

Matt said...

That was one of the most beautiful things I've ever read . . . Dammit, I'm not supposed to cry when I read your blog.

Warner said...

On Walks

I used to jog, six days a week around the lake in Prospect Park, about five miles.

A year or so after we married, my wife and I bought an English Setter pup, mostly for the boy. He liked walks.

When he was about a year, I woke him in what, to him, was obviously the middle of the night and took him on my jog.

The next morning he was waiting at the bottom of the stairs with his leash.

mom in northern said...

All dogs go the heaven and our Boogie earned his wings every single day…wet beard not withstanding….

anissa_roy said...

Tears in my eyes, too. What a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful boy.

Anne C. said...

Beautifully written tribute. Thank you!

I'm proud to have been a beard-dryer for him.

Good good boy.

Rachael Acks said...

Definitely a good boy. I'm glad he had you to love him.

Phiala said...

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Dana Teel said...

You wear your love on your sleeve apparent to all, the depth of your grief there as well. Your post brought tears to my eyes and a tightening in my chest as I remembered “family members” who have passed before. I hope you find peace.

beatrice in Paris said...

Matt says it all. Me, too, where are the Kleenex?

Random Michelle K said...

((hugs))