Let Bosco Be Bosco

20140621-211943-76783352.jpg

Sorry we’ve been gone so long. All this walking takes up a lot of time and energy!

And then there’s the post-walk recovery napping. And I’m not going to give you the percentage breakdown of how much time we spend on each.

So… When we last saw our hero, Bosco was being dragged around his neighborhood by an evil person, intent on destroying his cuddly layer of fat. Bosco has stoically submitted to the evil master plan, going as far as losing 5 pounds, just to give the illusion of compliance.

According to my Fitbit stats, I’ve walked 330 miles in a little more than 2 months. I think Bosco’s done at least half of that. I doubt this dog walked that much in his whole life leading up to it. Combined.

And he HATES it. He hates the noises, he hates the distance, and he hates getting hot and panty. And this got me thinking….

What if …. Bosco were to get a sister? Someone who could help him understand that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Who could show him how to let loose and have fun. Someone who could take some of the walking duties off of his plate.

I remembered stories from his shelter days, of dogs that he enjoyed being with, and I’d heard how he flirted with the girls when he was at his hotel. So I pondered it for a while.

And one day, a sweet face showed up in my Facebook feed, and a few days later I saw it again on Twitter. She was a big, good-looking girl who looked just like Bosco, except she was white, with a big brown spot on her head. She looked so sweet, and I thought maybe Bosco would like to be with somebody just like him. Of course she was at BARC in Brooklyn.

So I arranged a visit with Vinnie and Jay, and Robyn and Bosco and I headed off on a big road trip. Robyn and I gabbed the whole time, and Bosco farted up the car.

When we got there, Vinny and Jay were waiting with the dog on the sidewalk. How did that go? Well…….. The first thing she did was mount Bosco. We can safely say that set the tone. I really think she’s an unpolished gem, but Bosco haaaaaaaaaaaaaated her. He went so far as to growl. We all talked for a while, and my three friends were of the same opinion – this was not the dog for Bosco.

Vinny spelled it out for me – Bosco just wanted to be with me. And he didn’t want to share. Robyn and I talked it through over Asian food, while Bosco flirted with strangers. She helped me understand that if that particular dog was added to our household, it would completely destroy every step Bosco has made in building his confidence.

And I’d told Bosco he had the deciding vote. And that vote was no.

So no it was. I’ll be honest and admit that I was more than a little sad about it. I wasn’t ready to rule out future roommates though, so I thought the next step would be a little more socialization with other dogs to see if he was opposed to all dogs, or just that one.

Last week Bosco and I went to visit a friend and her dog. I wanted to learn how Bosco would be with a more passive dog, who he’s met before.

Bosco taught me something totally different.

He interacted with the other dog the same way teenagers with cellphones interact. They were both there, both fine with each other, but beyond that, could care less. But…..

My friend has had some horrible changes in her life, and her world is upside down. Bosco was drawn to her. And during this visit, which was full of emotional conversations, he was at her feet, or sitting two inches away. He requested a tummy rub, and fell asleep while she rubbed him.

You might already have picked up on this, but – Bosco doesn’t go out of his way to interact with other people. This is way out of character.

I felt like he was saying to her “I know exactly how you feel. It’s really scary. Let’s just be together and everything will be okay.”

So Bosco may not want another dog in his life. So what. He knows what’s important.

Advertisements

Bosco’s Blatant Ripoff

20131221-174510.jpg

Dear blogger: I am 7 years old.
Some people say dogs don’t know about Santa Claus.
They think Christmas is for silly hats and stripey knit sweaters.
But please tell me the truth; do dogs get to have Santa?

Bosco de Lazzara
Allentown PA

Bosco, those people are wrong. They are skeptical people in a skeptical age, unable to believe anything other than what they see. Their little minds think Christmas is nothing more than an excuse to play dress up with fine fellows such as yourself. In this great universe of ours, these thoughts are limiting, contradictory to the bountiful truth and magic of the season.

Yes, Bosco, dogs have Santa Claus.

Santa exists as certainly as the love and generosity and devotion of those two generous women who saved you at your deepest point of despair, who imagined for you a life of beauty and joy. How dreary the world would be without them! It would be a dreary world with too few good dogs, without the faith and poetry of companions in this existence. Without them, the lives and light of thousands would have been extinguished.

No Santa for dogs! You might as well not believe in saints!

You might look in every window to catch sight of dogs and people, but you will not see saints. The most real thing in the world is what you will not see. Do you see the shelter staff and volunteers on the lawn? Of course not, but they are there. Nobody can conceive or imagine the wonders they have created, unseen and unseeable, in the dog-loving world.

You can tear apart a squeaky toy to find what makes the noise, but there is an armor created by these unseen people, the strongest men and women who have ever lived, and no one can tear that apart. Only their faith and love can push aside the wall of neglect and cruelty, and picture the beauty and glory to come. Oh, Bosco, they created your world, which is real and abiding.

No Santa! Thank God he lives forever in these people. Years from now, Bosco – and ten thousand years from now, they will continue to protect the lives and make glad the hearts of big good dogs.

– with thanks (and apologies) to Frank Church of the New York Sun, 1897

Bonus/Bogus

It’s the holiday season.  Last year was probably Bosco’s first Christmas, and he had no idea what to make of my rituals.

This year, however…. He’s seen it all before. And he’s formed opinions.  And he’s quite willing to share them.

The main thing I do is put up a fake tree that probably has more lights and ornaments than the other trees on my block – combined.

tree

Last year I half expected Bosco to wipe it out, but with a few exceptions, he didn’t bother it at all. Once was the intentional removal of one ornament, for the sole purpose of seeing my reaction.  Note that this year, the bottom section does not have the same ornament density as the rest of the tree.  That’s because Bosco’s tail is very strong. A good wag cuts through an ornament like a hot knife through butter.

He wanted to participate this year.  He likes the ornaments, and enjoys sniffing the boxes – since they’re all from my family or thrift stores, I imagine they are quite stinky.  I never ever want to know what he’s smelling.  He thought the bead garlands were a lot of fun, and enjoyed trailing behind them as I wound them around the tree – until I didn’t see him, and stepped on him.  That was the end of his decorating dreams.  He promoted himself to supervisor and watched from the other side of the room.

The holidays are running 50/50 for him.  Either something is wonderful, or it’s dreadful. Every event has a little bit of both.

.

BONUS:

I got a present!  A blanket of my very own.

IMG_2097.

BOGUS:

My person’s blanket is bigger.  And it matches me. It should be mine.

big quilt.

BONUS:

We got another present! It was a big box of cheese and baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaconnnnnnnnnnnnnnn…..    I got to play with the box.

.

BOGUS:

I only got to play with the box. No cheese or bacon for me.

.

BONUS:

I got another present!  It was sitting on a table and I found it and I played with it all day. It was soft and squishy.  Since I found it, I got to keep it.

.

BOGUS:

sweaterIt wasn’t a toy.

poutingI was so traumatized that I took my teddy and went to bed.

.

BONUS:

sitThe tree is done! Now I get to pose for pictures and practice my “sit” and get rewarded.

.

BOGUS:

hatI should have eaten this hat last year.

.

BONUS:

normal poseI got some cheese!  I am very handsome.

.

BOGUS:

santa photo

The only reason I’m doing this is that it’s damn good cheese.

And I’m gonna eat the hat.

A Part ……. or Apart?

photo

Trying something new today – a podcast.  Okay, to be honest, I recorded this last night while I was driving, and I don’t want to transcribe it.

Part 1:

Bosco touring Lisa's enormous yard

Bosco touring Lisa’s enormous yard

The book I mentioned is called “I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship.” Ummm…  yes you are.

Part 2.  I lost patience with garage band and trying to split this up into sections.  So somewhere around 3:14, scroll down and look at the next photo:

the view

the view

Part 3:

Awareness

Last Saturday was pit bull awareness day, and this week wraps up awareness month. I’ve seen tons of stats, and this one really stayed with me:

On average, 22 people are attacked and killed each year.

.

.

.

By cows.

.

.

.

Now you are aware, and I bet from now on, you will cross the street whenever you encounter a cow.

A certain cow-spotted fellow and I are building our awareness.

I now know that when at a vet’s office, to ask what the side effects of steroids are. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say they were extreme, and had me worried that we’d lost ground in building Bosco’s confidence.

nervous

I am aware that a large dog who consumes 4 quarts of water each day needs to release 4 quarts of water each day, regardless if I am home or not. Bosco is aware that towels are extremely absorbent. The county water authority is aware that I am doing lots of laundry and they will make more money from me this month.

We each became very aware of food. Bosco did not know that wonderful things like peanut butter and cream cheese existed, and does not care that there are pills jammed in them. Now he knows to wait until my back is turned to stand up on the counter and eat out of the containers. Now I know to close lids and put things back right away.

I have experienced the hysteria of an 80 pound dog who thinks he will starve if he has to wait another hour until supper. I am aware that no matter how ravenous he is, he still will not eat green beans or carrots. Even if they are covered in peanut butter or cream cheese.

We are both aware that he can lose all inhibitions and be silly and super-cuddly, and run in circles and sit ON my lap and demand tummy rubs.

And now that the drugs are leaving his system, he’s ready to relax. He is newly aware of the greatest doggie possession that isn’t food – a warm fleece blanket.

fleece

Ownership

ImageWe interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for a very special announcement…..

Emotionally, Bosco became mine as I drove on I-78, somewhere around the Hellertown exit. Legally, he became mine three weeks later when I handed some cash to BARC shelter and swore I would always do what’s right for him.

I’ve always loved my dogs with all my soul. I’ve also always had this Peanuts cartoon stuck in my head – the one where Lucy says (of Snoopy) to Charlie Brown, “He only likes you because you feeeeeeeed him.” God, Lucy’s a jackass.  But it made me wonder what the dog/person relationship was like from the dog’s side. Is it just food, shelter and security?? I didn’t know.

Until last weekend…..

I became Bosco’s.

Something clicked and took away any remaining doubts he had.  And for once, I actually noticed when it happened. We were on the sofa. His head was on my leg, and I was rubbing him. He twisted around, tilted his head up and we locked eyes.

Yep. Dogs love.

Ever since, he’s never been more than a few feet away. If I go upstairs, he’s coming with. Taking the garbage out? Maybe I should make that bag a little lighter for you and eat something in it. How come I can’t go to work too?

My favorite thing in the whole world is our weekend morning routine. I drink coffee and screw around on my iPad, and he sits with his head in my lap. Having been awake for an interminable 30 minutes, he falls asleep almost immediately, and has woofy, ear flicky dreams, and he eats in his sleep.

Image

Hanging on a Sunday

The bond really sunk in last Monday. We were out for our morning walk, which is at the same time kids walk to school. There were two girls half a block behind us.

Remember how I said Bosco is a freak deterrent?  Well… I noticed a guy, and my spidey sense told me he wanted to play some “hey baby” game with those girls.  Of course I wasn’t going to let that happen. So I stood 10 feet away from him until they went past, ruining his game.

And Bosco? He picked up on it – and moved so he was standing between me and the freak.  This is the dog who hides behind me when he sees a goose or a group of children. But a freak – a potential threat – he took the lead. And the freak went away.

Bosco knows now, that aside from nose buttering, he has nothing to worry about when he’s in the house. And he’s been a cuddly clown, prancing around and making sure I notice him. He HATES my new workspace, and does everything he can to pull my focus away, mostly by asking for (and receiving) affection.

Image

“hi”

His last resort is to play “sofa shark,” where he pretends to give up and go sit on the sofa. Then he suddenly pops his head up, and the cutie faces start all over again. I have to explain that work means money, and that means snacks, and he sighs and flops down in resignation.

Image But the best part, when I know that I’ve done right for this dog, and that he is happy, is when I catch his eye. There’s no caution, no worry. No fear.

It may not be a cute YouTube video, but to me, it says “I love you” loud and clear.

Labor Day

I stumbled across the following essay – a letter to an adoptable dog. Elaine Sichel outlines her qualifications as a dog companion, and hopes the dog will agree.

I showed it to Auntie Laura and said that I hoped one day to have a resume like that. And she gave me a list of jobs I already have. And that got me thinking … today is Labor Day.  I decided to put off doing some things for my day job, and make a list of things I do in my job as Bosco’s person. And that got me thinking about what Bosco does, which he perceives as his job.

Image

Bosco is not in the mood for a walk

 

MOTIVATION

Me: Motivation Booster

Bosco is perfectly happy lying on the sofa all day. He has a history of refusing to go for walks.  I make going out fun.

 

Bosco: Motivation Booster

I am perfectly happy sitting on the sofa all day.  I have a history of losing several hours to Candy Crush. Bosco makes going out fun.

 

SAFETY

Me: Security Shield

Whether it’s a throng of squealing children or a hundred geese in the park, I will stand between Bosco and the scary stuff.

 

Bosco: Freak Deterrent

There are lots of … unusual people in the city, and many of them feel a need to share their unusualness with passersby.  But not with Bosco around.  Let’s just say his appearance makes them think twice.  Number of freak encounters before Bosco? At least one a day.  Number since?  ZERO in a year.

Image

Napping on a Sunday

 

SLEEP

Me: Headrest

So Bosco can sleep with his head upright, and see the world square on when he opens his eyes.

 

Bosco: Nap Monitor

When I’ve napped enough, Bosco yanks off my blanket.

 

MAINTENANCE

Me: Ear Swabber

That boy could grow potatoes in there, and I have to keep him clean.

 

Bosco: Grass Trimmer

I have issues with keeping the lawn mowed. Bosco does his part to keep the grass short.

 

SERVICES RENDERED

Me: Remote Control

When he flops on a certain place on the floor, it’s time to turn on the air conditioner.

 

Bosco: Quality Control

I like to sing loud. Bosco lets me know when it’s bad by gently putting a paw in the middle of my face.

 

Me: Transportation Captain

Whether it’s to the park, a play date or the doctor, I take Bosco where he needs to go in a Honda Element specially configured so he can sprawl out.

 

Bosco: Upholstery Protector

Bosco covers the sofa and makes sure that it doesn’t get sun-faded.

 

FOOD

Me:  Snack Baker

What started as a simple fundraiser for work turned into an on-going duty. After all these weird toxic food issues, I feel better making Bosco’s snacks myself.

 

Bosco: Bacon Taster

He would like it to be an on-going duty. It’s possible the bacon could be tainted, and he thinks he should make sure every piece is okay.

Image

Making cutie faces

 

LOVE

Bosco:  Carnival Teddy Bear

He’s so cuddly, I can can’t help but hug him and squeeze him and kiss him and love him and call him good boy.  This used to freak him out.  But here’s his little secret:  he’s starting to LIKE IT…

 

Me: Human Thunder Shirt

This is the one I take most seriously, and I think about every day. Last October Bernadette Peters told me that Bosco wore a thunder shirt at the shelter to help control his anxiety.  I’d never heard of a thunder shirt, and asked her to tell me more about it.

Her response:

“He doesn’t need one now. He’s got YOU.”

 

That’s a good job. Happy Labor Day.