Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goodbye Boaddicea "Bo"

As we feared, our faithful dog, Boaddicea, had to be put to sleep this morning. Bo had a very aggressive form of cancer which caused her to gain about thirty pounds in a week. She had an enormous tumor that grew out of control in a short amount of time. We are very saddened by this loss, but are very thankful that she is no longer suffering.

I know it's probably not fair to pick a favorite dog, but if I am completely honest then Bo would be my lifetime favorite. Though she was only in our lives for fourteen months, she brought an amazing amount of joy into our lives. I need to share a little about Bo's story with you.

About sixteen months ago Marko and I were at Wells Fargo making a deposit. When we pulled into the parking lot we saw a pickup truck with six English Mastiffs in the back. You can imagine how impressive a sight this was. The largest dog (the dad) was 260 pounds. We were equally intimidated, and drawn, to these massive animals and soon began a discussion with the owner. He told us they were looking for a good home for one of the "puppies"-an eleven month old, 80 pound female.

Marko and I had always wanted a big dog so we told the owner that we were very interested in adopting "Boadiccea". He gave us his number and told us to call him. A month went by during which time Marko's mom passed away. We were slightly preoccupied so thoughts of Bo went to the back of our minds. We assumed that she had already gotten a new home, but when things settled down, we decided to call just to be sure. The owner had been waiting for us the whole time! He said that he thought we were the right people to take Boadiccea. We drove out to see Bo and bring her home.

She seemed very skittish when we went to pick her up and did not engage with us which caused us a little concern. We took her anyways. No sooner had we gotten home than she bolted from the car-leash and all and disappeared into the woods. We soon learned that she had never been on a leash before and was traumatized by the experience! Big 80 pound baby she was! We left food out that night and sure enough she found her way back to eat; something we would learn was somewhat of an obsession for Bo!

She disappeared again the next morning spending the day wandering our local community. We had to call her owner and have him drive over with his truck full of Bo's Mastiff Family in order to persuade her to come back home. Feeling a little bit wiser, we locked Bo in the dog kennel only to have her dig out in record time and disappear once again! Fortunately, that voracious appetite of hers brought her back at dinner time!

Bo managed to warm up to us a little bit over the next two weeks although we determined there were some serious issues with her-including a fear of men. We finally decided it was time to take her on her first outing. We took her down to the beach house where she again bolted the minute we let her out of the car. Of course she had no name tag or collar as we had plans to pick one of that very day- never dreaming she would bolt again!! Feeling like "Pet Owners of the Year", we had to call her old owner AGAIN and let him know we lost her and to keep his eyes and ears open.

For some reason this dog had already stolen my heart in the two weeks that we had had her. I posted photos and notices all over the neighborhood and local businesses. Nearly three weeks after Bo disappeared, I got a call from my parents telling me that their neighbor had seen Bo in town at a junk yard. She had traveled approximately three miles to get to her location at the junk yard. She was hiding between two shipping containers: She was greasy, emaciated, and scared to death. I will be honest and say that I was quite fearful as I tried to coax her out with a bowl of food. Having a frightened, large breed dog with a menacing bark can be a little intimidating!

After about twenty minutes, Bo finally followed me to the car where she inhaled a bowl of food. From that day on, I was Bo's "momma". She was glued to my side for the next fourteen months and she never wandered far from home again. She loved to just lean against me any chance she got. She would go for walks with me every morning; possessively pushing our other dog, Peanut, out of the way!

Although Boaddicea was fiercely loyal to our family, she continued to be timid around our friends and family. She scared people so much that Marko threatened to get rid of her if she did not become more socialized. We called in a Canine Behavioral Specialist who quickly fell in love with Bo and convinced us that she just needed a stable home, and that she was confident that Bo was not harmful. I started to work with her, socializing her at every opportunity. It took several months, but she came around and eventually was comfortable with our continual rotation of friends and family. Our friend and neighbor, Chris, walked down almost every day and brought her treats which also helped her to get over her fear of men.

With our children Boaddicea was incredible. At her two year old weight of 145 pounds, she thought she was a lap dog! She would crawl up in our laps anytime she could-nuzzling her enormous head against our necks. She seemed to especially love our middle son, Noah. She was constantly climbing in the overstuffed chair with him or climbing on his bed. In fact, she became Noah's alarm clock. Noah, being our hard to wake up child, needed a little "nudge" in the mornings. At 7 o'clock when it was time for Noah to get up for school, I would open his bedroom door and let Bo do her job! She would climb on top of Noah, lick his face and then snuggle in next to his right side (nearest the wall). Like clockwork, Bo would lay there for a minute and then kick with all four paws-kicking Noah right out of bed!! It was hilarious and I always intended to film it for America's Funniest Home Video's" but I never got around to it. The best thing about this was that; our typically grumpy in the morning Noah would wake up happy every day-even though he was often drenched in drool!

I can't believe I nearly wrote a book about my four legged friend: "Just an animal" as some would say. Strangely, there was something almost human about Boaddicea which endeared her to our hearts. I hope I haven't bored you with the details of her life, but I needed to write her story as part of my grieving process. Her short life (just two years) brought joy into the lives of a family who desperately needed some joy. We are forever grateful that we were chosen to be the ones to love her and give her a stable home for her short time on this earth.

Now I leave you with wise words from my 12 year old son, "If everyone had a dog like Boaddicea the world would be a happier place."

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