Still Waters: Sweet dreams, Boca Burger

I had already told my coworker Julia I would take the male dog she had rescued from an abusive situation but could not keep because her grandson, who lived with her, was allergic. My Freckles was lonely, having lost our friend Nipper, and I had the capacity and means to take on another pet. As I told someone this week, I rarely find the dogs I have had. They find me.

I got to thinking after I said “yes” that I didn’t even know what this dog looked like. Julia showed me a picture, and I was hooked before I even met him. It was his eyes. They were dark and soulful. I couldn’t turn down that face.

When Julia brought him to my house, my Freckles was ecstatic. “A puppy! You brought me a puppy! Just what I always wanted! I love you, I love you, I love you, puppy!”

At least that is the way I translated her reaction.

His reaction was to run under a desk in the back bedroom and hide from the big Dalmatian/pit girl who couldn’t get enough of him. That hiding place was his retreat if loud noises or anything else scared him. He spent a lot of time there at first.

Over the years, though, he needed that retreat less and less as he became more comfortable in my house and with his “big sister.” They had a close bond and loved each other. Freckles passed away four years ago.
By then my crazy cow dog from the prairie had another “big sister,” Ebony, a black lab/pit mix whose owner could no longer keep her because her son was allergic. There was a tumultuous beginning to her life with us as everyone sorted things out, but eventually everyone “became accustomed to her face,” even if she wasn’t their favorite fur faced friend.

Ebony is 11, and I expected she would probably pass away first. My cow dog would have liked being an only dog I think. He was not as sociable as Ebony.

This week, though, Ebony and I are having to adjust to life with just the two of us. I had to put my crazy cow dog, Boca Burger, to sleep last Thursday evening.

Julia’s grandson had named the dog, whose age I was never certain of, “Hot Rod.” I have no idea what his original name was, but after the abuse that accompanied that initial name, he definitely needed a new one anyway. Hot Rod didn’t seem to fit this crazy “pup,” but he was a “nut burger,” as my brother-in-law Tom used to affectionately call his puppies. What better “nut burger” than Boca Burger?

Boca, for short, lived with me for seven and a half years, and I had hoped we would have more time together. It’s never easy to say good-bye to my four-legged friends, and I have done it too many times over the years. There are too many little boxes on my shelf containing those friends whose ashes I keep close to me.

And now there will be another one.

Boca had been losing his hearing and eyesight, but this summer he seemed to go downhill more rapidly. He was more confused and disoriented, and he was not as steady on his “pegs” as he used to be. He never lost his appetite, though, and that has always been one of my big criteria for making the final decision. He shared some French fries with me the night before he died.

He also never let me know he was in pain, though the vet said he probably was sick. He never let on. When his bladder finally failed in the last few days before his death, I knew it was time.

I couldn’t stop crying as I called the sweet folks at Alpine Veterinary Clinic to schedule a time late in the day on Thursday so when I went back to work that night, nobody else would be there and I could grieve in peace. Dr. Enderle was the vet who helped my sweet friend go to sleep. She has always been so caring, as well as competent, with my pets. I appreciate her and all of the wonderful folks at Alpine Veterinary Clinic who have served me and my sweet fur-faced friends over the years. She helped us both through those last moments together.

It began to rain as I left the vet’s clinic Thursday evening, and it seemed to me that God was sharing my sorrow.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have a biblical basis for my belief, but there’s no biblical argument against it either, and I believe we’ll see our special four-legged friends again in heaven. Maybe they even get to go there first. I don’t know. I have a plaque that I truly believe: “Heaven is the place where all the dogs you’ve ever loved come to greet you.”

I will be surrounded.