Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bocephus On My Mind

This post has been a long time in the coming. It pertains to a topic that I have only alluded to in the past, but a topic that is very prevalent in my everyday life.

No, I'm not talking about Hank Williams, Jr., for those of you who know who Bocephus is. (Although, I do have very fond memories spawning from a different era of my life involving a certain gold-flecked adult beverage and this song. But, that's another post entirely. For now, why don't you indulge yourself, as I am right now, and listen to this song a little...let down your hair and let your mind wander back to younger, more carefree days, as you sing along and do a little soft stepping in your mind. Have fun. This post will be here when you come back.)

I'm talking, instead, about my darling beagle, Bo. Yes, his official name is "Bocephus". Fire Daddy named him that after I adopted Bo for him as a birthday gift from the Humane Society some 7 or 8 years ago. (Am I the only one who has trouble keeping track of the years now?) I'll never forget that day.

After visiting the animal shelter to just "check it out", I walked out with the only beagle they had. A beagle named Lou. My friend and partner in crime (she, herself, a lover of hounds and owner of bassets Winston and Stonewall), accompanied me to the nearest pet store to purchase the necessities. From there, I delivered the supplies to our apartment and immediately drove with Lou (certain this would not be his name for long) to the fire station.

Fire Daddy recalls hearing his fire brethren announce as I entered the bay, "Some lady's here with a dog." Somehow, for some reason, he knew it was me....with a dog I had not told him I was purchasing. (Because I didn't intend to, remember?)

We sat in the day room, giggling and watching him follow that compulsive beagle nose to every nook and cranny within walking distance. When the subject of names came up, it did not take long for Fire Daddy to pronounce him Bocephus - much to my objection. When the shortened version of Bo was explained, I reluctantly agreed.

Bo was his dog that day...and, perhaps, only that day. Ever since then, he has been mine. With the exception of cuddling into the cozy butt cave, Bo prefers me and always has. (You're probably wondering what the butt cave is...Fire Daddy lays on the couch with his legs propped on one end. Bo sees an opportunity for warmth and snuggles right up to his hind quarters, tucked under his thighs.)

Bo and I spent many sleepy evenings alone, cuddled on the couch together in that apartment. Fire Daddy worked hours and hours, days and days at a time, of overtime that year. You see, not only did we adopt our first child (Bo) that year, but we conceived our first baby, too. As my belly grew and my energy continually waned, Bo stayed by my side. When he would no long FIT by my side, he moved to the his perch on back of the couch.

I would arrive home from teaching, drag my weary, pregnant bones on his extra long walk around the apartment complex, and then crash for a "little nap", only to wake up at midnight, still in my clothes, and take him on his "bedtime" walk. It was safe. I had my vicious, guard dog to protect me. Then, because sleeping in his own kennel only lasted ....mmmmmm....two nights?, we would curl up in bed together until he beat my alarm to the punch in the early morning hours. (Growing boys wake up hungry.)

As we prepared for Big Girl's grand entrance, I read everything I could find on how to properly introduce the two children (yes, I'm referring to Bo and the baby); how to set their relationship off on the right foot. When she finally arrived at our apartment for the first time, after the hospital kicked us out at 9 PM on a Tuesday night (exactly 48 hours after delivery -- and not a minute more, Mr. Insurance Man), it was precious to watch him as he cautiously craned his neck, stretching his body to nearly twice its normal length, gingerly letting his nose investigate this curious creature without getting too close. Another moment I'll never forget. The meeting could not have gone smoother.

Now, fast forward nearly a month to our first July 4th together as a newly expanded family unit. Fire Daddy, as always on the Fourth, was at work. (Hello? Firecrackers everywhere? That's a busy night in his line of work.) I, on the other hand, was at home alone with a brand new baby, who still had her days and nights reversed, and a dog who was COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT by firecrackers. I recall that night very seriously considering jumping from the second story window in the baby's room. I thought the barking and screaming that night would never end.

It did eventually end, however. Since then, Bo has continued to provide us with amazing memories. For instance, there was the night he ate the chicken bones. Well, this actually happened on many occasions, but one night took the, the bones.

Fire Daddy's brother (we call him Diego Montana) was in town, preparing to fly out the next day for a camping trip on the West coast. We had enjoyed a lovely grilled meal of chicken wings, grilled corn on the cob, and some other scrumptious items that I do not recall. I, as usual, had tucked myself and Princess #1 (this was before Little Sister joined us) into bed at an early hour (this was also before the days of my compulsive insomnia), while the boys stayed up late chatting, giggling (yes, boys giggle), and compiling camping gear from each one's collection of supplies.

The excitement didn't begin until after midnight, when Fire Daddy quietly crept into our dark bedroom. The lights out throughout the house, I barely cracked my eyes in my sleep, until I realized Bo was nowhere to be found.

"Where's Bo?" I mumbled.

"He's not with you?"

"No...he was with you guys." I sat up, sensing danger.

Fire Daddy made the rounds in the house, calling in a hoarse whisper for Bo to come to bed. No response. I could feel the anger surge through my veins, sure that those silly boys were to blame for whatever bad event was to come of this...because nothing good would, I was sure.

After he returned to our room, without a four-legged companion, my panic grew. I questioned him about their actions throughout the night. When I learned they were in the garage for a period of time, digging through Rubbermaid tubs of camping gear, I knew what had happened. Bo was surely in the garage.

And he was.

He lumbered slowly, painfully into the kitchen once we opened the door. He had been waiting for us in the dark, poor thing. But we didn't know the half of it yet.

Why hadn't he scratched at the door? What had he been doing out there all that time? It had been at least half an hour...perhaps even a whole hour?

Dear God...check the trash.

You see, we learned long before that any items of potential danger needed to go directly to the outside trash. Beagles, and their noses, are quite resourceful. The beagle owner down the street had warned us of their beagle's amazing talents that led them to padlocking their refrigerator. Consequently, we had child locks on all our cabinets long before we had any children. We kept all trash cans securely behind closed (and locked) doors from the first day Bo joined our family. You learn fast when you learn the hard way.

The evidence did not bode well for poor Bo. The hole in the trash bag. (For some reason, that week, we had more trash than the two large cans we maintain could handle.) The hole in the plastic grocery bag INSIDE the black bag. The plastic grocery bag that had neatly packaged our chicken bones and corn cobs, that is. The TWENTY-FIVE chicken bones from our dinner for four. The twenty-five chicken bones that were, now, nowhere to be seen.

We returned to the kitchen like soldiers in retreat, our heads hung in despair and disappointment. Bo, bloated and moaning, lay on the den floor, waiting with his guilt.

We began Emergency Chicken Bone Procedures immediately. Amazingly, Bo ate the entire can of prescription I/D dog food we kept on hand for just such emergencies. (We'd been through a lot with him already.) After a brief heated discussion, we resigned to go to bed and try to sleep while we wait. Wait for the inevitable. I felt sure my dog would die this time.

The symptoms emerged around 6 AM. Fire Daddy was due at the station by 8, so he dressed early and carried Bocie into the vet. I, scared and alone, stayed to dress Big Girl and deliver us both to our daily destinations.

I can recall, on the quiet, somber ride that morning, my little girl asking me about Bo. Without the words, energy, or strength to tell explain the events of the night before or my predictions for the future, I simply replied that he wasn't feeling well and was at the doctor. Her childhood innocence allowed her to accept it at that and move on. I envied her ignorance.

My stomach was in knots throughout the whole of the day. News of Bo's condition was hard to come by. Especially since Fire Daddy was the primary contact for the vet -- and you know how men are with details.

In the end, though, the news was good. There was no blockage. After a few rounds of charcoal and hundreds of dollars in x-ray film (not to mention THE REST of the bill), Bo was released that evening. The vet was amazed he survived. In fact, he referred to Bo as a Miracle Dog. In all his years in veterinary medicine, he had NEVER seen that many chicken bones crammed in a dog's stomach and intestines. EVER. (I guess he's an overachiever, like me.)

This would not be the last time Bo amazed us and his doctors. Since that day, Bo has suffered from pancreatitis after catching a squirrel and liver disease. (His liver functions were literally off the charts. I took him in because he wasn't eating, had an upset tummy, and was generally "acting a little down". Again, they were floored he was not dead. Full recovery within twenty-four hours.) We, the doctors and I, have learned that Bo is an extraordinary dog.

As I type this post, listening to his ridiculously loud snoring on the couch behind me, my heart smiles. He's a crazy dog. He's a naughty dog. He's a slightly overweight dog. But, he loves me. He licks my tears. He cuddles with me when I'm sick. He is always happy to see me, and thrilled just to sit on my lap and get a little love. Sure, he toots when he stretches...and it's really gross. But, I forgive him. He's my boy. He's Bocephus.


  1. What a sweetie! I've got two little rascals of my own. They sure do add a lot of entertainment to a house. :)

    P.S. - LOVE the fact that I "guilted" you into wishing for an ipod. I can't believe you didn't follow my directions and get one that same day! ;)~ Mwah!

  2. Having just gotten my first dog, I feel, I too, am in for many adventures. Especially considering he's mostly an outside dog. So far, I've had a dead squirrel and a dead red bird show up on my doorstep.

  3. Loved this post! With a face like that, you've got to love him!


  4. What a great post! We are dog-free at the moment so I live vicariously through you. I'm waiting until the boys are big enough to help take care of a furry family member.

    Thanks for stopping by the HH!

  5. That is the cutest face! You can't beat the unconditional love of pets.


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