Every so often, a dog comes along who changes you, helps you to find something within you that you didn't know existed, who teaches you about the purest form of love, who elicits a tenderness that we save for the most heartrending cases, the most innocent beings, and the most beautiful of souls. Bo was such a dog. I do not think he encountered one human being who was not struck by his sheer enthusiasm for life, his trusting eyes (and after all that had befallen him, hard to fathom), his warm, soft head, layered in folds of skin covered with soft, downy velveteen fur. This was our Bo, who came back to us from the brink of death to teach us about resilience in the face of adversity, about survival in the company of those who are indifferent to it, about forgiveness when you are finally embraced by the open arms of those who would never harm you, but would do anything to protect you.
When Bo came back to us after his first adoption, he seemed to garner a permanent place in the hearts of staff and volunteers alike. Those who hadn't known him well before, were touched by this velveteen pooch, this Bo-licious, Bo-frog, Bo-wrinkle, as he was affectionately nick-named by one of his favorite volunteers, Rachel. We looked at this dog a little differently than we had before, for he had defeated death and miraculously came back to us so that we could love him more than we had loved him before, and more than many of us have ever loved a dog in our lives.
Rachel took this dog with boundless reserves of energy for regular runs around Aquatic Park. Afterwards, refreshed (and hungry) from the exercise, they would eat lunch together on "the bench." Others took him for on-leash romps in the bay, where he lay on his back, let the cool water wash over his stomach, get up and decide he liked it so much that he lay down for yet another chance to let the gentle waves lap across his velveteen tummy-- probably the first time Bo had ever been "swimming."
I believe Bo experienced a lot of firsts in his life, while at the shelter. Upon his arrival at the shelter, Bo was withdrawn and frightened. It took almost two weeks for a gentle volunteer to gain Bo's trust enough to let this volunteer take him for a walk. Having been a backyard dog for most of his life, the walk was the second of his firsts. The kindness shown by this volunteer, was the first of his firsts. Then there was the medical attention to his skin, the daily walks, the weekly socializations, the regular meals, the warm kennels, the blankets, the kurandas, the baths, the CARE.
One of the last moments I spent with Bo, was one I never thought I'd ever have, for this effervescent angel with endless energy never seemed to stop long enough to have a quiet moment. But this late afternoon, after lining his sleeping bin with soft, fluffy blankets, I sat with him-- he lay his head in my lap, and I stroked his big, beautiful,warm head, a gesture as calming to me as it seemed to be to him. He let out that big sigh of relief dogs will give you at the end of the day as they settle into position to sleep, and I knew our sweet, velveteen Bo was at peace, feeling loved and warm as the heating unit in the kennel hummed above our heads.
Good-bye sweet Bo. You taught me about forgiveness; you taught me about protecting those I have come to love, from harm; you taught me that regardless how many dogs I have loved, there is always room for another; you taught me to savor the company of someone who loves you; you taught me the value of living in the moment, and how that moment can last a lifetime in your mind; and you taught me that pure innocence, absent of motive or pretense exists. Thank you for these lessons. I love you Bo. WE love you.