My latest book, HALLEY,
Awarded 2015 Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction. Available at: NewSouth Books: www.newsouthbooks.com/halley and Amazon
Our late Boxer, Bo, was very territorial. He didn’t put up with other
animals in his domain. He considered the Ark Veterinary Clinic to be
part of that domain–especially if the offending animal happened to be
a cat or a rottweiler. Before I resorted to a halter harness for
check-ups and learned to keep both hands on the leash, he broke away
on two different occasions and tried to take on rottweilers who
outweighed him by half.
With turtles, I think it was curiosity, instead of animosity, that
motivated Bo. Time after time, we caught him chewing on box turtles
he had found in the yard or woods. It did no good to hand carry them
to the edge of the yard or down into the woods. He would go find them
and begin munching again. The only solution was to put them into the
car and drive them a mile or so down the road and release them.
Fortunately, save for one exception, the turtles were too large for
him to inflict fatal injuries on.
Thank goodness, Bo was more than willing to share his territory with
grandchildren. In fact, he allowed grandchildren to tug his ears,
pull his tail, climb on his back and inflict all kinds of other
indignities. By the time the third grandchild came along, Bo was
getting to be a senior dog with arthritis and missing teeth, and yet
his patience with little ones was still endless. He tried to join
games of tag and hide and seek with Benjamin and the grandkids. One
day he even tried to get into a plastic sword fight. When he
accidentally got slapped by a sword, Bo fell to the ground, and rolled
over with paws in the air. This was such a hit that he “played dead”
several times during every sword fight from then on.
As brave as he was when fighting off intruders or attacking
rottweilers, there were some things Bo feared. One was his doghouse.
His doghouse was in the breezeway of the cottage next to our house.
Benjamin had insulated it and installed two one hundred watt bulbs for
heat when needed. A thick curtain over the doorway kept out cold wind
and a cushioned carpet gave him a soft place to sleep. He slept in it
for the first week or so when cold weather arrived. Then, quite
suddenly, he wanted nothing to do with it. We set his supper dish
inside, thinking that would convince him. But no, he would merely sit
a foot or so away and whine. Then he would go outside into the
attached fenced enclosure and bark toward the house while shivering
“Well, freeze, you big coward!” Benjamin told him the first several
nights, but as the weather got colder and I began to talk of allowing
him into the kitchen, Benjamin relented and went out to do what I
called “Da-da and Bo bonding.” He crawled into the doghouse and
pulled Bo in with him. While Bo shivered with fear, Benjamin pointed
out that nothing was hurting Bo. Bo was safe. The doghouse was safe.
After a week of Da-da and Bo bonding, Bo surrendered and began using
the doghouse alone. However, the next winter, it was the same problem
all over again and required the same solution. We never figured out
what Bo’s fear was.
Bo’s last year of life, he had cancer, and we gave him pain pills
every day. And yet, he never lost his cheerful disposition. He
didn’t like swallowing pills, so we wrapped them in bread–until he
figured that out and began spitting out pills. Then we crushed the
pills into canned dog food, until he quit eating the medicated meat.
Then we began stuffing the pills into a weiner half. The day we knew
we could put off the inevitable no longer we fed him the remaining three
weiners just outside the vet clinic. He was happy and
smiling when we walked in. He greeted the clinic workers like always
and looked around to see if there were any rottweilers around. In the
examination room I held him in my arms while they gave him the
injection, and it was all over in seconds. It’s been three years
since that sad day, but I continue to miss him, and I still haven’t
been able to get another dog. But when I do, I know it will be a
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