Becoming Bosco

I don’t recall exactly what I was doing between July 4-10 2007, and I’m too lazy to look it up. I have a pretty good hunch that I spent a lot of that time with my dog – playing catch, walking in the park, playing catch, cooking while he cleaned my spills off the floor… and playing catch.

I certainly was not thinking about Manhattan or Brooklyn, or the animal shelters there, or anyone who visited those shelters, or any dog in those shelters.

And yet, those seven days had a huge effect on my life.

On July 4, 2007, a stray dog was picked up in the Bronx. I’ll never know the story, but odds are good that he pulled a door open, went out and got lost. He was picked up and taken to the ACC in Manhattan.

He looked like this:


The ACC did what it does for the thousands of animals who come through their doors – estimated his age (one year), weighed him (59 pounds), and gave him a name – July.

July, they said, was fearful and withdrawn. He did not approach the handler, and leaned away with his ears flattened. He resisted being removed from his cage,  He did not exhibit aggression. When tested with another dog, he did not interact.

He was put up for adoption, in a cage with a tag that said his health status was mild and his behavior moderate.

On July 8, he came up for review. The sheer  volume that goes through the ACC forces them to euthanize unwanted animals, and that was the decision made that day. July was to be euthanized.


Two amazing women spend an astonishing amount of time reviewing the “at risk” list. They select as many animals as they can, pay the adoption fees, and arrange transportation for each animal to be taken to a no-kill shelter.

On July 10, 2007, Bernadette Peters and Patty Saccente saved July’s life.

They put him in their car and took him to BARC Shelter in Brooklyn. At BARC, Vinny and Tony took him in. They actually took him in twice, but that’s a story for another day.

Somewhere between the cage at the ACC and a large pen at BARC, July got a new name. Ms. Peters says that he had such a classic old-time look, so she gave him an old-time name to match. Bosco.

Today, and every day, I say to these four people:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Those seven days did not involve me, but they changed my life. Five years later, crushed by the loss of my dog, I knew that the only way to dig out was to love another. And Bosco was there.

So now I’m getting up on a soapbox: everyone, support an animal shelter. Whether it’s with money, or by performing services, do it today.  Whatever you do today saves a life today.

That life could very well be your future sweet boy.

Fwip Fwip Fwip*

Bosco caught up in scintillating conversation

Bosco caught up in scintillating conversation

I’m trying to decide if Bosco’s progress is really as delineated as it seems.  Are these new behaviors as sudden as a light switch, or am I unobservant and don’t pick up on them until they’re fully developed?

Here’s what happened this week: he’s responding to conversation, and interacting with me more.  Don’t think I’ve gone ’round the bend – we’re not having tea parties, and he’s  not saying “why yes, I would prefer two sugars,” or anything odd like that.  This week it clicked that when I talk to him… I’m talking to him.

And he loves it. He doesn’t have the slightest clue what’s going on (to quote Robyn, he hears “blah blah blah Bosco blah blah blah.”  And of course “snack.” But every time I say something to him, I get these adorable tail flips. I’m assuming its because he’s happy to have been consulted.

And he goes bonkers when I do my bad impression of Frank Nelson’s yeaaaaaaahuuhhssssss” (google it and you’ll know what I mean).  Apparently that’s MUCH more fun to his ears than a simple good boy.

I’ve been working a lot in the evenings, and Bosco’s decided I need project management. He likes to sit nearby and supervise – with his eyes closed. Every so often he will crawl over and nudge me to pet him. And after a few minutes he tells me my break is over and goes back to supervising.

Bosco, keeping me on task

Bosco, keeping me on task

He’s been much more bouncy. He practically does backflips when it’s time to go for a walk.  He’s so excited and runs around the house and woofs, and does face plants on his bed.  We start down the street and he stops in front of my car. And he’s disappointed if we don’t get in it.  Oh, the guilt, I tell you….

Last weekend I took him for a long walk in the park. We got in the car and he was all happy and panty. He tried to squeeze between the front seats so he could see where we were going. He was thrilled when we got to the park, and couldn’t wait to get started down the trail.

Then after a few hundred yards, he realized …. I expected him to walk.  He wasn’t prepared for that. Or excited about it.

It took us two hours to do a two-mile circuit. It was hot, but not unsafe. We stopped to rest and drink water many times. I could tell he wanted me to get the car and come pick him up. We were lapped by dozens of dogs – bigger dogs, tiny dogs, geriatric dogs – even a human toddler went by with less fussing.

On our last stop, he pulled this stunt.


Our walks are very informal – we both like to wander and explore. But this time, I had to get strict with “heel.” Otherwise I think we’d still be out there.

And that’s when it dawned on me. Through all the years of Bosco being afraid to go for a walk … After all the energy spent teaching him that there was nothing to worry about, that he was safe…. After all the walks around the neighborhood…. There’s still one big issue.

Bosco, at heart, is freaking lazy.

*Regards to Patrick McDonnell for inventing the word “fwip.”

Bosco Thoughts

Bosco is pondering - or pouting - after I took a pen away from him.

Bosco is pondering – or pouting – after I took a pen away from him.

Bosco’s a quiet guy, and he likes to sit back and ponder things.  I can tell he’s having some deep thoughts lately.  Here’s what I think he’s been thinking:

Every song I’ve ever heard has a verse about me and my big feet. I’m famous.

When I have nothing to say, I say nothing. Think about that, humans.

How can it be that every time I’m ready to poop, somebody makes a big noise and wrecks my mood?

Why do people spend time fussing with food? If they’d just eat kibble, they could go to bed at 7:30 like me.

How come I don’t get to use the porcelain flushy thing? It’s raining. I’m tall enough……

Why isn’t there yogurt-covered kibble?

Why should I bring the ball back? You’re the one who threw it.

Why are Yorkies so bossy?

Big boy likes his sleep.

Big boy likes his sleep.

How can I possibly be expected to function on less than 21 hours of sleep each day?

How many pictures of me do you really need?

And most important of all: Life is about sitting in sun puddles.

sun puddle

PS: Why was there a pancake and a pop tart on the sidewalk?