Just two nights ago I heard the news. Bosco, my wife’s family dog, had to be put to sleep. It was hard news for everyone to hear. Bosco had reached the point where he could no longer get up so he was just lying there on his comforter on the porch. His family knew his time was up so they had to make the very hard decision to take him to the vet and have him put to sleep. Bosco slowly passed into the night on Wed. 5/27/15.
On one hand, he was 16 years old and outlived most dogs born when he was born. His body was riddled with various lumps and tumors. He had almost completely lost his hearing and he did not see very well. He was losing weight and was mostly skin and bones. Most would say it was his time to go and they would be right. After all, he had lived a very long, full life.
On the other hand, all those things can’t trump the emotional connection you make with your pet. For 16 years Bosco was there. He was there on the good days and he was there on the bad days and never once did he complain. He just loved and was as loyal as the day is long. That is what good dogs do and he was one of the best.
When a pet becomes so intertwined with the fabric and makeup of a family, it is never easy to let that pet go, even if it is the right thing to do. I have known Bosco for the past 4 years, but his family has known him his whole life. Bosco’s death brought tears to my eyes, but to his family, it must have been even more devastating.
I believe that God put dogs on this earth to show us how we should live our lives, but never quite do. Dogs love unconditionally, are not racist, and are not uncomfortable around gays. They treat males and females the same. Dogs do not judge or hold grudges. They are always happy to see you when you get home and they never leave you, at least while they are alive. Dogs are everything we could hope to be, but aren’t.
I think this quote really sums up what dogs are:
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealously or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring. It was peace.
I was lucky enough to spend time with Bosco this past weekend. I pet him several times throughout the extended weekend. On Sunday, the family was shredding up pork butt that Todd and Corey had just smoked. I ended up with two big hunks of mostly fat and snuck them onto the back porch to give them to Bosco. Todd has told me over and over not to feed Bosco scraps, but I couldn’t resist. Bosco quickly ate both pieces and then licked my hand with appreciation. It made him very happy and that was the most important thing.
We had continued to watch Bosco’s health worsen and Todd and I had discussed that the time would soon be coming when he would have to be put down. I told him that I did not think he would make it through another winter so maybe sometime this fall would be a good time to have him put down. Those decisions are never easy to make.
On Memorial Day, I noticed on more than one occasion, Bosco was standing there and his hind legs were stretched out, almost like he was having trouble supporting his own weight. Meghan noticed it too. I did mention it to the family, but he wasn’t doing it all the time so we didn’t think too much of it. I’m not sure why, but at one point on that day, I had this feeling that Bosco was getting very near to the end and that this might be the last time I would ever see him. Call it intuition or just a sense from being around animals so much growing up. I just had that feeling. I have always felt a sense of closeness with animals and seemed to know what they were thinking. I was an only child so on many occasions growing up, various pets were the closest things I had to brothers or sisters. I loved animals so much in fact, that I have devoted a great deal of my life to them by becoming a veterinarian. I always felt like it was my responsibility to stand up for animal’s welfare since many of the animals can’t do that for themselves.
I woke up early on Tuesday before any of the rest of the family was up yet. I had to leave early for work by 6 am that morning. I still had that strong sense that this was somehow the last time I was going to see Bosco so I took a couple of minutes and sat down beside him as he lay there, half asleep, on his dog pillow by the TV. I sat there and gently petted his head and scratched behind his ears, which he likes so much. He put his head up and looked at me with sad eyes as though he was saying goodbye. As I look back on that moment, I realize what a special and precious moment that really was. It is a shame that can’t really appreciate the magnitude of those moments as they are happening. It is only in the recesses of our memories that those moments blossom into their full importance.
As Bosco and I shared that moment, through his old and tired eyes, he shared with me a lifetime of memories he had. Memories of a life of loving those around him and of being loved. Even though Bosco could never write or speak to make his last will, I am going to attempt to create his will for him based on what I think he would have said if he could.
Here is Bosco’s last gift to his family. Here is Bosco’s will and last words:
I, Bosco Hassebrock (familiarly known to my family, friends, and acquaintances simply as “Bosco”), because the burden of my years and infirmities that are heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there until after I am gone. Then, remembering me in his loneliness, he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask him to then to inscribe it as a memorial to me.
I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their day hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they still want to have. There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I leave to all those who have loved me. To my Master Todd and Mary who will morn me the most, to Stephanie, Meghan, and Corey who have been so good to me. To little Conor, who has made my last years feel young again. If I listed all of those I have known and have loved me, my Master would have to write a book. Perhaps it is vain of me to boast when I am so near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to dust, but I have always been an extremely lovable dog.
I ask my family to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in times of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think that even in death, I should cause them pain. Let them remember that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having over-lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-bye, before I become too sick and a burden on myself and on those who love me. It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as people do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I would like to believe, along with all my fellow dogs who have passed before me, that there is a Heaven where one is always young and full of energy; where all the day one dillies and dallies with a loving multitude of angels. A place where jack rabbits, that run fast, but not too fast, are as the sands in a desert. A place where each blissful hour is mealtime and where in the long evenings, there are millions of fireplaces with logs that are forever burning and one curls oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave days spent on earth, and the love of one’s family still there.
I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long rest for a weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleep in the earth that I have loved so well. Perhaps, after all, this is best.
One last request I earnestly make. When I am gone, please do not say, “When Bosco dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one.” I would ask, for love of me, to have another dog. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would like to feel is that, have once had me in the family, now my family can’t live without a dog. I have never had a narrow, jealous spirit. I have always held the belief that most dogs (and maybe even a couple of cats) are good. Some dogs, of course are better than others. Boxers, as everyone knows, are the best. So I suggest a Boxer to be my successor. He can hardly be as well-mannered or as distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master must not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green. To him, I bequeath my collar, leash, pillow, and comforter. He will never give them the distinction that I did, but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial dog. Here in this small town, he may prove himself quite worthy of comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume, come closer to rabbits than I have been able to in recent years. And for his faults, I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his in my old home.
One last word of farewell, dear Master, family, and friends. Whenever you think of me, say to yourselves with regret, but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long, happy life with you: “Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved.” No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.
Forever and Loyally Yours,
Don’t worry buddy, you will never be forgotten and you will always be loved. Take it easy on those rabbits up there.