Bob’s Dog Boo
My yellow dog, Scout, has kept me hopping this week as I surgically cured him of the bellyache he created for himself by eating a ball that was absolutely not meant for consumption. It was wickedly expensive. Carpets have needed to be cleaned, if you know what I mean. He must now wear the cone of shame and eat specially prepared chicken and rice for ten days (my God, the cooking I’ve had to do!). I can’t ground him or lecture him or anything because he has absolutely no recollection of eating that ball, and because, well, he is a dog.
Plus, he probably didn’t even notice it was a ball when he ate it because he only swallows. He never chews or savors or tastes anything.
Dogs in general are a lot of trouble, but for Scout, you can easily multiply that times ten. Ask ANYBODY who knows him. He makes Marley (of Marley and Me) look like a well-trained military animal.
However, each time I felt myself getting frustrated with him this week, not being able to communicate with Scout about how he’s got to cut me a break, and with each swipe of my credit card (money intended to be spent on shoes and handbags and not doggie X-rays), I am reminded of losing my other sweet dog. For thirteen years, we had a black lab named Boo. (I know you are thinking To Kill A Mockingbird? Well, I wish, but their names are just a coincidence.) We lost him last summer to old age. During his life, he cost me even more money than Scout has (two words: treble hooks + two more words: chicken allergy) and created just as much angst as the Yellow One, but there was never a kinder soul nor a gentler spirit than Boo. He was my husband’s dog, and I inherited him after Bob passed away in 2010. He waited every day for Bob to come home although we humans knew he never would.
On a visit to see me the following summer, my dad commented on Boo’s melancholy demeanor. I explained that Boo was a dog who had now experienced a loss from which he would likely never recover, and just like with people, pain changes you. Dogs grieve and feel and love too, and Boo was never the same afterward.
My dad then set about penning this poem about their relationship and that loss. You “dog people” will love it because you get it.
Now you know where I get this writing thing from…
Bob’s Dog Boo
From the realm of dreams I wake
One breathless breath I dare to take
As from a coffin I seem to stare
In ebony darkness I am aware!
Strange sounds now tickle my fear
Impatient pacing I appear to hear
Canine nails on hardwood floors
Incessant clicking on oaken boards.
From a palisade of pillows I peer
At wolvine eyes so very near
It’s only a dog, a wolf pretending
It’s just Boo dog, my dear old friend.
As black as night is my friend Boo
Grey beard, grey muzzle, whiskers too
What’s the matter? What do you seek?
Into your thoughts I wish to peek.
Something’s missing! Something’s gone!
Where is my Master? Something’s wrong!
To speak aloud would be his choice
But a bark, a whine, is not a voice.
From times ere present he remembers fall
He and his Master he oft recalls
Of birds on wing, of ducks in flight
Of water and marshes, fog’s delight.
From his Master’s side he did stare
At blue skies, cold morning air
Irritating squirrels barking on high
Brought leaps of joy breaching the sky.
Where is my Master? His voice gone!
Where’s his caress for which I long?
Where’s the truck I used to greet?
Where’s the lap into which I leaped?
Where’s his hand? The praises begged
Boo was cared for, loved and fed
Where’s his Master? His eyes reflect
Fretful longing and worry I detect.
Of concepts of death a dog’s inept
To aid his understanding I cannot help
Your Master’s gone, I can’t explain
To a dog would be inane.
Unknown malady his body baked
Left broken lungs in its wake
Choosing not to waste away
Your Master, a disease did take.
Explanations I have none
Not for myself or anyone
Cherished memories are what’s left
Of your Master, so much loves felt.
Boo, no tenet or creed has he
Far more nobler and purer than me
Salvation and damnation isn’t his concern
His Master’s approval only he yearned.
Heaven and hell you can’t perceive
Truth is, you can only grieve
Are Boo and I not alike?
Creatures akin in God’s sight.
One day soon all will end on cue
You’ll hear a whistle, a command “Here Boo!”
Then off you’ll go, beyond the veil
And find your Master, all will be well!
Boo Dog, old dog, old friend
We both now approach our winter’s end
Not the seasons do we test?
But all Eternity and Heaven’s Rest.
~Thomas G. Moore