Saturday, 19 January 2013

A bow wow memoir

Today marks the first anniversary of the death of the last of my bow wow crew.
I have always loved dogs, and have always had a dog in my life.  They are the most loving, caring, loyal, protective creatures on this earth....truly man's (woman's) best friend.
Between my brother and I must have rescued, inherited, or acquired more dogs than our parents could ever had imagined.
We always had large breed dogs, from German Shepherds to mixed breeds that captured our hearts totally.  I had never had a smaller dog, until one day I paid a visit to my ex-husband's house, and there was this poor little dog in need of proper care.  I brought her home and adopted her as my own.
That's when it all began.....when I became the mama to a family of seven bow crew.
Snowy was a Chihuahua mix, and was the apple of my eye, she could do no wrong. She ran the household. She loved fish, and would dance on her hind legs just to get a small morsel.

Curled up next to me in bed

She was the only dog in the house at the time, and she was spoiled rotten. She would use her big brown eyes to melt your heart, and get whatever she wanted. Loved to go for rides in the car too with her ears blowing in the wind as she hung out the window, barking at any dogs that we passed on the way.  She was a very brave dog. She once took on a large Rottweiler in order to protect us. It was a very scary David and Goliath scene, but she stood her ground, and the other dog ran off.
Then one Saturday morning (I remember clearly), one of my crazy girlfriends (you know who you are Angela!) came by and gave me the cutest ball of brown fuzz, and exclaimed, "You need a man in your life!" and off she went.

Shaggy....the man in my life

This man in my life became known as Shaggy, and Snowy took care of him as if he were her own pup.
Shaggy grew up to be the sweetest most loving lionesque looking bow wow.  Lots of golden brown hair draping from his body, soft brown eyes, long ears and large paws.
While Snowy was a fiery soul, Shaggy had a gentle spirit.

Shaggy and Snowy

That started the ball rolling....Snowy and Shaggy gave birth to Buffy and Einstein, the greatest brother and sister tag team if ever there was one.
Buffy (aka Fluffy) was really a mix of her mum and dad, but Einstein was a sweet terrorist.  He did not mince matters at all.
Buffy  loved all manner of food, and did not care who heard her barking in anticipation for her food. She was fluffy all over with long white curly hair which became tangled easily.  Sometimes I called her Scruff Buff when she was really looking unkempt.  Overly loving and loving attention, whether it be just calling her name, patting her head, or giving her a tummy rub, she loved to be loved. Her long hair covered her eyes, and it was always hard to tell if she was watching you or not.
Einstein on the other hand had wiry white hair, with jet black eyes like lumps of coal, and was extremely territorial. He loved attention too, but he pretended not to, by having a meanness attitude on the outside.  A very guarded dog, who seemed to think that one always wanted to cause him some stress. As a  result, he loved to growl and nip.
After Snowy died, it was just Shaggy, Buffy and Einstein left.

Einstein and Shaggy

Then along came Misty. Back then, I still worked in the corporate world, and everyone who knew me, knew that I was an extreme dog lover.  Another girlfriend (you know who you are Annette!) decided that I needed a replacement for Snowy.  Under the pretext of giving Misty to my daughter, Annette gave me Misty, and that is how we ended up with another bow wow.

Misty and Shaggy
Yes, Misty is licking a lollipop in my daughter's hand

Now Misty was from a different breed altogether, and was a little black and brown shiny-haired cutie pie. Smaller than all the others, she somehow managed to have all the males falling at her feet. She and Buffy became great friends, and got up to lots of mischief. (Still have a sofa ripping contest unaccounted for...not one of those two girls would admit whose brilliant idea it was to rip up the sofa).
As I said, Misty was a "cutey cutesey" with herself.  Very prim and proper with a walk that any model would have loved to own. When her name was called, she would cock her head to acknowledge, but in a very lady-like manner.  She was the smallest of the lot, but somehow never got trampled by the bigger dogs. They worshiped the ground that she walked on. Yes, she was all that.
I guess Shaggy decided it was time to have some offspring, so he and Buffy got together, and we ended up with Bustamante (aka Buss). This dog was a character unto himself. Firstly he had a straight right hind leg, but he never let that hinder him. If one did not know, one could not tell.  He moved around the fastest of the bow wow clan, and kept everyone in check. An inquisitive boy who could be found nosing around the garden and everywhere else. I can say I never saw a lizard, roach, or mouse anywhere near the property with him around.  One morning 2.30am to be precise, I awoke to his excited barks, and when I looked out, he had a mouse cornered in one of the palm trees. That mouse was trembling in between those fronds, and when he attempted to climb down, oops he was no more. 
Buss undertook the job of looking after me exclusively, and would make sure he was underfoot all the time. I'm very lucky to still have my skull intact, since I could easily have cracked it open with my near miss falls, through him walking in and around between my feet, it was like some kinda game for him.  Buss was a fearless dog, and NOTHING phased him. The others hated the weed trimmer, and would stay far away, but not him, he would try to "kill" it since he thought it was attacking me.

The next thing I knew, Shaggy and Buffy got together and Boogles was born.

He was a miracle puppy, the only surviving pup from his litter.  A chocolate brown boy with the most wise eyes and the coolest demeanour, a trait that belied his age.  Boogles moved slowly, and also licked slowly, with some kind of quiet determination.  However, he ate his food very very very quickly. 
So now we have six dogs in the household, with lots of love and care to go around. One big happy family.
One nice vet to take care of us all.  Yes, when they were well, I was well, but when they were ill, so was I.

On August 2nd, 2008, I lost Misty. She was not well, and she died in my arms.  Through the tears I dug her small grave, and placed her lovingly in a clean box and buried her under her favourite tree in the back garden.
Amazing how animals have the same feelings that we do, and we all grieved together.
Two years later, Buss got sick, and despite our best efforts, I lost him on August 22nd, 2010.
Fork and spade came out once again, and I buried him right beside his favourite girl Misty under the same tree.
Another period of grief, which as soon as we were trying to move on, another death in the family.
Buffy passed away on November 22nd, 2010. Through the great big sobs, I managed to dig another grave for my Fluffy Buffy sweet girl.
We moved on with our lives as best as we could.
Boogles became quite ill the following year, and despite my vet and my greatest efforts, I had to make the painful decision to put him to sleep on December 20th, 2011. Yet another grave.

Here is Boogle's obituary:
"Today is one week since I had to put my precious Boogles to sleep.
He was a courageous and determined little fellow who taught me life lessons in not giving up no matter what and how to hang in there during tough times.

Boogles was a miracle dog from birth. He was the only surviving puppy from his litter. The prettiest chocolate brown hair, and loving eyes with eyebrows in a light brown that highlighted those eyes. Born with two straight back feet, my friends told me I should put him to sleep since he won't be able to walk or scratch himself or anything. I saw it differently. I figured since he had defied all odds and survived, I was going to help him fight his battle. Bundled him up and took him to my dear vet Dr. Huey, who said to me, "You always want me to work miracles my dear," and he wrapped Boogles' back feet in position under his body, and told me to unwrap him in a week. He looked like a worm all bandaged up for that week, and that is how he got his name, for he reminded me of a Booglie Wooglie worm, so I called him Boogles. For that entire week, he stayed in his box eating and doing all the other stuff that puppies do.
One week later early Saturday(3.00am), I will never forget, I got up,
tenderly unwrapped his body with so much anticipation. When he gingerly stood up on all four feet, I cried with happiness. My prayers had been answered. Boogles became the strongest dog I have ever had. He ran like a thoroughbred racehorse, and could catch any critter "trying" to get away from him, once he felt like going after them.  
My daughter always labelled him "idiot savant" because he did everything in slow motion except for eating and running.  Food disappeared down his mouth like magic, but when he licked you, it was a slow and deliberate kiss.

He fought his tumour with verve and wild abandon, and with the exception of his hair falling out, no one looking in could tell that he was fighting cancer. The medication was not working anymore and when I saw the tears in his eyes after yet another visit to the vet, I knew he did not want to go on.
With a heavy heart, and tear filled eyes, I lifted him around the garden the following day to check out his favourite haunts and to say goodbye to his father Shaggy and his uncle Einstein. He ate a hearty breakfast as usual before he went o the vet for the last time.
Always the gentleman, he acknowledged everyone when we arrived, and then he was gone, slipping peacefully into doggie heaven.
I brought him home and buried him under the tree in the back garden with his other family members.
I miss him terribly.
May he rest in peace eternally.

I love you Boogles.

Shaggy and Einstein were the only two remaining with me.
Shaggy had by now lost his sight, and in researching how to live with, and make his life more comfortable, that's when I discovered Wilf the Pon's blog.  Wilf did not know, but he was a great comfort and inspiration for both Shaggy and myself.

Shaggy the patriarch

Shaggy started to go down quickly, and even though it was hard for me, I had to make the decision to allow him to go with some dignity, since his quality of life had deteriorated terribly.
And so it was that on January 16th, 2012, I put him to sleep.
Here is his obituary:
"Today I put my oldest and greatest bow wow Shaggy to sleep.
After Boogles was buried, Shaggy refused to eat, he missed Boogles (his youngest son) terribly.
Being the ever loving and patient and gentle fellow that he was, he sought solace in Einstein, but Einstein is a loner, so Shaggy continued to pine away by himself.
I continued to feed him by syringe and spoon, lots of nutrients and fresh soup, but this in no way could make up for what he was accustomed eating. He became quite thin, and unable to stand properly. I would tenderly lift him into the garden several times a day to do his business.

I knew he was getting tired.  He became weaker.

And so with  a heavy heart, I called my vet to see him for the last time.
Once again I made the trek around the garden, stopping at his favourite spots, and then he said a farewell to Einstein, and my old blind companion was headed off to The Rainbow Bridge.
What a wonderful life he had. From the day he was ceremoniously delivered to my house, by a crazy girlfriend Angela Daniel , who announced "You need a man in your life!!", and left this cute adorable puppy with me. A mix breed of Pomerarian , Chihuahua and Jack Russell, who could ask for more...a bundle of joy.
He loved the sunshine, and could be found laying contently many days just basking in the sun like a well seasoned tourist.
He loved good scrappy dry dog food in no bag, good home cooked human food, and laid on his plate in a pleasing manner, if not it wasn't worth consuming. Gotta love him.

He always came when called, wagging his tail with wild abandon, till I sometimes thought it might drop off one day.
He loved to roll around on his back and kick all his feet in the air, and yelp in sheer was so much fun to watch him, he always made me laugh.
He had this habit that was quite endearing...he would shake his body out as if he was shaking off the stress and tribulations of the world, and I more or less adopted this in the way I handled some problems...I would shake them off, and move on.
A true gentleman.  Always made sure he walked ahead of me and made sure my way was clear of anything that may harm me. He would always let the females (Buffy and Misty) drink first when fresh water was brought out at lunchtime.
When he became totally blind, several folks thought that I should put him to sleep at that point, and I would always ask them if I should put them to sleep too, if they were blind, but had all their other faculties..that always made them shut up quickly.
Shaggy knew his surroundings by heart, and could navigate the garden expertly...anyone looking on would never sense or know that he was blind.
I am going to miss him so much.
The reason I ended up with seven bow wows was because of Shaggy. He started the ball rolling with his first offspring, and then they kept the ball rolling.
Sleep peacefully my dear will always be in my heart."

Einstein was now blind too, and I kept a keener eye on him since he was all I had left.
But a couple of days later, he decided he had had enough, and in an instant he was gone.
My dearest Einstein.  Here is his obituary:

Today is one week that I lost my beloved Einstein.
To many of you, who knew him, you already know that he was my "Terrorist." He was the dreadest dread of my bow wows. He was a serious guy.
Many, like myself gave him a TONNE of respect because he demanded it. In his glory days, he kept all "intruders" in check. He manned the front gate like a drill Sargeant on crack. No one dared even touch the gate or stand within a few feet of the front wall, dared not pick or touch any plants growing out front, not even look in the direction of the house too hard.
Even when friends were allowed to the back of the property, he would bite at the fence and growl and show his teeth menacingly, to make sure he was feared...actually one friend nicknamed him The Ayatollah.

We have never had a robbery...EVER.. not on Einstein's he is gone.....
He had a walk like a proud peacock with his butt in the air, and his face set with a determined "don't even think of messing with me" look.
I myself never messed with him, because that dog was a no-nonsense dog, who didn't take crap from anyone, not even me.
Lunch was served at 3pm, and if I knew I had to go out, and won't be returning in time, I would always let him know I was going to be back a little late.
If not, and I took his lunch out to him late, he would nip me to keep me grounded and let me know that he did not want his lunch late. It was as if he was saying, "what de france, you bringing my lunch late?? You mad or what?" 

After he went blind, he became much mellower, but still had a strong hint of that maddy maddy character to him.
Still wanted to "take care of me and protect me" at all costs.
He had a tragic end, which I don't know if I can even forgive myself, since he was under my watch at the time.
My Grand Pubah, my Bad John, my baddest bad is gone....The last of the Mohicans....
May he rest in peace with all his family who have gone before him.
I am now dogless...what a weird feeling for me."

I lost my last bow wow on January 19th, 2012, exactly one year ago today.

They all lived past twelve (human) years, and so were in their twilight years, and age brings with it all kinds of ailments, some we conquer, some we don't.

Seven clean boxes lined with newspaper, seven funerals with prayers, seven lots of beautiful flowers from the garden, seven graves dug, seven sessions of tears and heartbreak, they were all gone.

The end of an era, but one I loved and enjoyed to the hilt.  

I loved them all. They were all different in their own way, with distinct personalities and idiosyncrasies, but I loved them all the same.

Sadly, I do not have any photos of either Buffy or Bustamante, but their faces and memories live on in my heart forever. 


  1. What a history you have of your friends Virginia. I've never owned a dog. In fact the only pet I've ever had was an inherited cat, BP.

    1. I think you may have missed out by not having a dog in your life GB, but then I'm
      We had cats as well, and aquarium fish. Our neighbours had turtles, peacocks and guinea pigs, so we had our fill of loving all those other animals too.

  2. I know how hard it is to lose dogs. i have three dog urns on the shelf behind me. I was supposed to scatter their ashes in the garden but I couldn't bear to open them. I'm so glad you have Brownie. :o)

    1. Tammy, I don't think I would be able to scatter my bow wow remains either.
      With all of them buried under the Japanese fern tree, I can talk to them every time I go into the garden.
      You're right, I'm SO GLAD I have Brownie in my life.

  3. Virginia, how heart wrenching to have to say good-bye to so many. I am not looking forward to it when Missy's turn comes. Give Brownie a big hug from us.

    1. Yes, it was a heart wrenching blow for me, and I didn't realise what a toll it had taken on my psyche. Our bow wows are so precious and bring so much joy into our lives, we could never truly repay them. Don't think about losing Missy just yet, she is fine. I will give Brownie a big hug from both of you...thanks.

  4. Virginia, I loved reading the story of your canine family. Bella and Onslow are my first dogs, and it seems hard to imagine life without either of them now. I shared this link on my Facebook page a few days ago. There's a beautiful poem by John Updike and a link to the letter singer Fiona Apple wrote explaining why she was cancelling a concert tour to spend time with her dog

    1. Marisa, this was so sad for me to read.
      I am proud of Fiona Apple's decision to spend the last moments she can enjoy with her best friend. Folks who are not dog lovers will never understand the bond we have with our canine friends.
      Thanks for posting.
      Brownie sends his love to Bella and Onslow.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...