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

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.

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.

rolling

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.”