Let me start by saying that it has been faaaar toooo long since I updated Bo’s blog. Since Bo died a year ago, I have become sort of a silent member. I apologize for that. Please know that I check the Tripawds forums every day. I’ve read every story that is posted; I’ve celebrated successes; I’ve cried over our losses. I am going to do better about posting and helping others that are faced with amputation. As another member put it, I need to refill the cup that kept me filled when I need help. Thank you all for always being there for me during this journey.
Tomorrow marks one year since we set our boy free. This weekend has really brought back a lot of memories of the weekend that Bo left us. He died on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. On Saturday we watched football, the same as we did a year ago. Yesterday, I drank my coffee on the porch, same as a year ago, except this time I wasn’t next to my boy saying goodbye to him. I miss Bo every day.
Last year I lost Bo and both of my grandmothers. I have grown a lot this year. I am thankful for each day that I have with the ones that I love and I do not take time for granted anymore. I am not wishing time to fly or getting anxious for weekends/holidays. I am enjoying each day. Bo taught me that.
Last November, we adopted a new family member, Brady. He was a rescue dog and has brought us so much happiness! We’ve grown a lot as a pack, especially this summer when we got to travel together and spend more time together at home. Brady is quirky, athletic, and quite calm. Much…MUCH…different from Bo. He will occasionally do something so “trademark Bo” and it cracks us up. MC Belle won’t admit it, but we think she likes having a dog around again.
Brady and Belle Having Snuggle Time!
In general, life is happy and I feel complete again…as complete as I can with a piece missing from my heart. School has started back; routine is back. My sister is getting married in 3 weeks. Lee turned 30 and we had a fantastic celebration. Our 3 year wedding anniversary is next month…my birthday is next month. Football is here! Fall and the holidays are right around the corner. I spend each day with the love of my life! I miss Bo every day, but damn, life is good.
Bo taught me so much about life and enjoying the little things. I do not take his lessons for granted. We will celebrate your life tomorrow and always, sweet boy! Keep having fun at the Bridge. We love and miss you!!
Before Bo got sick, he was a wild, crazy, silly boy. I want to start writing about some of the fun, happy memories we’ve had with Bo.
Quite a while ago, I told Admin about Bo’s conch shell and I promised to post pictures. Well, I’m finally getting around to it. Here’s the story:
Bo and I had just moved into our townhouse and we wanted to clear out the small backyard, so we could do more outdoor living. It was full of weeds, vines, brush, and trash. It was awful. We concluded that our townhouse must have been built on a landfill, at least that’s how it felt. It took us a few days, but we cleared out the yard. We found some very interesting items during our cleaning, one of which was a conch shell that Bo found. He started tossing it around and playing with it immediately. He would run around with it in his mouth, bark at it, dig around it, he was enthralled with this thing! We kept the conch shell because it was so entertaining to watch Bo play with it.
This conch shell stayed around and we never really thought much of it. It was Bo’s favorite “toy”. He would always try to sneak the dirty thing in the house, but it was definitely an outside toy. Bo chewed on the shell, played with it, and carried it around for years. It never chipped and amazingly never got lost. It would go missing for a while, but would always turn up again in the yard somewhere.
When we moved the conch shell came with us. It continued to be Bo’s favorite play toy. When Bo got sick, the outdoor, never allowed inside the house, conch shell magically found it’s way into the house. It became a sort of talisman for Bo’s health. We’d lay it next to him when he was sleeping. When he was recovering from surgery and staying in the guest bathroom most of the time to recover, the shell was there. Even when food was of much interest, Bo would still perk up when he saw or heard (it has a very distinct sound when it hits the floor) the shell.
We brought the shell out on the porch with Bo the day we set him free. Now, the shell has a spot on our mantle and I think about Bo every time I see it. What was discarded trash in the backyard became a priceless keepsake to us.
I miss Bo every day and I hope that he’s found some new treasures at the Bridge.
It’s been about 2.5 months since Bo earned his wings. That is almost as long as we had with him post-amp. I don’t know where the time this year has gone. I think my brain is still stuck in April when Bo first started limping. But, here we are in November…the weather is beautiful, the holidays are coming, the house is clean…free of dog hair for the first time ever. (I miss the dog hair.) I feel the need to move forward, but I need to write about the last part of Bo’s journey first.
*The following has details of Bo’s death. It’s not too graphic, but it is detailed. I hope I do not offend anyone, but I do need to write this.*
Bo died on September 4th…the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. That Thursday, I knew that it was time, but Lee was not there with me yet. I asked Lee over the phone to take a real look at Bo…a look at him without the hopes of him getting better. He did and for the first time we actually discussed setting Bo free. Bo was still happy; tail wagging, grass rolling, bed snuggling. But, he had practically stopped eating. He was on a low dose of Prednisone at that point, so the reduced appetite was a real red flag. The coughing had become increasingly frequent too.
Saturday morning I let Bo out to potty and drink my coffee on the porch. He rolled in the grass and snapped at a few bugs, but he just wasn’t the same. He was tired. I helped him up the porch steps and I felt a big knot on the inside of his right hind leg. Lee and I decided to call our vet and have her make a house call. Well, when we called the vet office…they were closed! Labor Day weekend… I remembered when Bo had his surgery, our vet said that if we needed anything after hours, to call the emergency vet and they could contact her. We decided to give it a shot, so we called. The emergency vet folks said that they didn’t have that info, yada yada…we told them what our vet said and they told us they would see what they could do. Our amazing vet called us within 20 minutes. We told her what was going on. She said that she would come the next day and assess Bo and that if it was time, she would bring what she needed to set him free.
After I hung up with the vet, I looked Bo straight in the eyes and told him, “You have to show me that you are sick, or I will not be able to go through with this.” I guess he really heard me because during the next 12 hours, Bo showed us that he was truly in pain and was ready to go. We got him his favorite hamburgers for dinner, but he did not eat. He jumped up in bed with me one final time on Saturday night. In bed he looked up at the ceiling, nostrils spread as wide as they could get, and labored to get air. I asked him for a kiss and he turned his tired face to mine and laid one smack dab in the middle of my face. Bless his heart.
I woke up early on Sunday (surprised I slept at all!). I let Bo out to go potty…he went and laid down in the grass. He never came back in the house. I got my coffee and laid with him in the grass for hours. I told him how much he meant to me, how thankful I was for him, what a good dog he was…even though he got into everything he could stick his nose into. I told him that when we have babies, they will hear about all of the wild stories about crazy Bo. It started to rain a little bit and I finally coaxed Bo onto the porch. Lee got up and we savored every last moment we had with him.
Our vet called in a sedative to give him before she came. When she got there, Bo lifted his head up and wagged his tail. Happy ’til the end. 🙂 He started coughing right away and the vet said that we were right. It was time.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about our vet. She made the entire process very peaceful. She explained what she was going to do and what to expect. Bo was given a second sedative and we were given as much time as we needed to say goodbye. We knew once she started the euthanasia shot, we only had about a minute left. Bo was not scared. He was ready to be set free. The vet started the shot in his hind leg. About half way through the injection, she had to stop and switch legs. Bo had another tumor in the leg she was using and it was blocking the vein. She did this calmly and professionally. Bo died peacefully in our arms. A huge gust of wind blew by shortly after he passed. I thought I was imagining it, but I looked at Lee and he felt it too. It started pouring rain and we sat and chatted with the vet for a few minutes.
She had us bring Belle outside to see Bo. She said that Belle probably already knew, but it would be closure for her to know that her friend was not just disappearing, that he had died. Belle was hiding under the bed, which she NEVER does, so we figured she did already know. Nevertheless, it did bring closure to us for her to say goodbye.
We said our goodbyes to Bo and helped our vet load Bo into her car. We were strong for Bo until the very end, but she drove away, we crumbled. We drove around for a few hours. We bought a plant that we later planted in the back yard in Bo’s memory. The second night after Bo passed, at 2:00 AM the fire alarm let out 5 quick, loud beeps. Lee and I fell out of bed…startled and disoriented. There was no fire, there are no batteries in the alarm, so it was not a low battery. I started laughing because I knew that Bo sent us a sign…”I’m here. I’m ok. Stop worrying.”
We went to group pet grief counseling…that is a separate post in itself. Let’s just say, I felt way more “normal” after it.
It is really hard losing a pet because they are not just a pet. They are a friend, a family member, a “person” that you see and love every day. We are adjusting to life without Bo. His memories and his stories still make us laugh. His memories and his stories still make us cry. I will never, ever forget Bo. I will always love him. I am ready to lock his memory in my heart and move forward. I needed to write this to be able to do that.
After all that has happened with Bo, it has been made so clear to me that his life had an amazing purpose…to help me. I think that most animals are sent to us for a reason. They have a mission to complete, whether they know it or not, and when it is done, they are able to leave us.
Bo came into my life when I was 19 years old. I had just moved back home to Tallahassee, FL after moving away to go to college. I had only made it 5 months away from home before getting homesick and coming back. I had started a new job and classes at the community college. All of my friends from high school had already started their collegiate careers without me and I was really lonely. I decided that what I needed was a puppy of my own to care for.
I got Bo, a gorgeous yellow lab puppy, on July 17th 2005 and we moved into a little townhouse together a week later. I chose Bo because he was rowdy and causing havoc in his pen and I wanted a dog with personality. That is exactly what I found in Bo! Growing up my family had a yellow lab, Cherokee, and he was extremely calm and gentle. Not Bo!
Bo got into everything! He ate trash, foil, chicken carcasses, bread batter, credit cards…anything he could get a hold of. Bo would be an angel in obedience class and come home and be a tornado of disobedience. I loved every minute of it. Bo’s favorite thing in the world was to swim. Being in FL, it was hard to find a great swimming place without alligators, but I did the best I could to get Bo in the water every chance I had. This wild pup became my friend to wrestle and walk with, my shoulder to cry on, my baby to care for, and my shadow.
I met my now husband, Lee, in September of 2006. A year later, Lee moved into the townhouse with Bo and me and brought his kitty cat, Belle. We became one happy family! For a dog and cat that did not grow up together, Bo and Belle became surprisingly close pretty quickly. We had so many fun times in the townhouse…with our inflatable pool on the deck, laser tag with the fur-babies and lots of snuggle time on the couch.
Bo traveled with us whenever we could take him. Primarily, we would vacation to the mountains in North Carolina. We would try to go about 3 times a year and Lee, Bo, and I had some of the best times of our lives up there. We would hike, sight see, swim in the waterfalls, or just curl up by the fire. I will always remember how special those times were. We also liked to travel down to the coast. Bo loved to run right into the water!
I am extremely lucky that the man I love is an amazing photographer. For the first year of Bo’s life, the pictures I have of him are quite limited. When Lee came into my life, the pictures of Bo increased, as well as the memories.
Last summer, July 2010, Lee and I bought our first house and left the townhouse. We love our house, but what really sold us on it was the huge backyard with a pool for Bo to enjoy. He had spent 5 years in a small townhouse with a small yard and I was so happy that we were finally able to give him a nice place to have fun.
The past year in the new house with Bo has been incredible. We had so much fun in the pool! Bo would dive…really, DIVE into the pool…get out, and DIVE back in! It was amazing! We dressed up for Halloween and sat on the porch with Bo to pass out Halloween candy. We went to the mountains for Thanksgiving. We snuggled by the fireplace and watched the Christmas tree lights sparkle. We rang in the New Year snuggled up by the fire. (We do a lot of snuggling in our house!) Spring came and we planted our very first garden together. Life was beautiful. I even remember commenting to my husband on many occasions how sweet life was and how I wanted these days to last forever.
Then, one day, Bo started limping. We had him take it easy and it got increasingly worse. We took him to the vet and got him some meds. The limp persisted. We went back to the vet and had x-rays done. We were told to limit exercise and rest him for 6 weeks. Week 3 into that remedy plan, we decided to seek a 2nd opinion. Thinking that we would leave the new vet’s office with a cast or new medicine, I was not at all prepared for the diagnosis. On Bo’s 6th birthday, May 25th 2011 he was diagnosed with Cancer…bone cancer… osteosarcoma…amputation…chemo…months to live… It all happened so fast.
We decided to do the amputation of Bo’s front left leg and he became a Tripawd on May 31st 2011. Surgery recovery had it’s ups and downs, like it does for most. Lee and I decided not to do chemo or radiation. We wanted to focus on Bo’s quality of life and not the quantity of life. This summer was truly a gift. We went from worrying about Bo’s every movement to finally chilling out and enjoying life. We cherished each and every moment we had together. We even got to take Tripawd Bo on some more trips. We went to our favorite place in the mountains and had a life changing beach trip.
The summer ended and I was finally offered a teaching position after YEARS of working toward getting one.
The yucky cancer came back far too quickly. Bo only suffered for a few hours before we set him free. We could not have timed it better, even if he could talk and tell us he was ready. Bo’s passing was at home, with Lee, Belle, me, and our vet. It was very peaceful and I am glad that Bo is no longer in pain. I feel him everywhere…when I go to sleep, when I look over my shoulder, when I step outside, but I mostly feel Bo in my heart.
Bo has taught me so much about life in the past few months. At first, I hated that Bo had to sacrifice himself to get me to slow down and enjoy every moment of life. A good friend of mine commented the other day that Bo’s sacrifice was not wasted. His lessons will be with me forever and I have the ability to share his message with others.
I am married to the love of my life. We live in a beautiful house. I am in a career that I love and that will make a difference in people’s lives. Quite a change from the lost teenager that bought a puppy 6 years ago. Bo knew that I am where I need to be in life. He knew that his purpose was complete. And so it was his time to go.
Shhhh….Monkeycat Belle here….Mom doesn’t know that I am on the computer.
Mom is walking around the house saying, “Oh no! I can’t believe I didn’t know about Barney and the Monkeybutt’s!” Well, little does Mom know that Barney and I are actually on the same team. We were just making sure Mom thought we were following Bo’s rules…. But, really, we were testing a new Tripawd trap!!!
Guess we had you all fooled!!! I am awesome at being a crazy, sneaky Monkeycat!!!
Angel Bo gave me special directions before he left about how to take care of our pawrents. I’ve been doing a pretty good job at it too. He also gave me a heads up about this Barney guy…that it is my job to KILL him! Bo chewed him up pretty good, but he’s still sitting around here smiling and being all Barney smug.
First, Dad can’t get enough pictures of Bo and then this stinky Barney comes along and he gets all the attention. I’ve had it…it’s MY turn!! I pushed him off of that chair during his photo shoot. That’ll teach him!
Well, Barney got a little banged up, but geeeesh, that purple guy is still smiling. I decided to think of something a little trickier. I put out some Barney bait and led it to my Monkeycat Stair Palace. All I had to do was sit there and wait for that Barney to catch on to the trail. Here Barney, Barney…..
I had a KillBarney trap waiting when he approached my Palace. Wham, bam, zzzzziippp…GOT HIM!!!! Yep, me, Monkeycat Belle, got that Barney all tied up!!!
I had him hanging real good when Mom came in and said…”Belle! What are you doing? He can’t breathe…he’s turning purple!” She saved him from my trap and gave him a special spot to chill out of my reach. She said to be nice to him; that he’s only visiting and will be leaving soon. Hmmm…GOOD! He’s going to need a long trip to recuperate from from the whoopin’ I gave him.
My bud Chili Dawg sent stinky Barney to me to see if I could teach him a lesson. Well, before I got my paws on him, Mom had him sitting on the counter so she could read the rules…what was she thinking?! There are no rules with Barney…except to KILL him!!! Also, I guess Dad had to get the camera ready for some pictures. I was a celebrity around there…always with a camera in my face!
FINALLY, Mom said, “We’re ready! Let’s go kill Barney!” I had been real tired, but man, the sight and smell of that Barney perked me up. We went outside and Barney got to feel the wrath of a Tripawd hero!!
Barney tasted great!! Although, the tasty grass was a little distracting…
Monkeycat Belle and I had a long chat…about lots of things…life and taking care of our pawrents. We did have a little convo about that purple beast, too. So, Barney…my final words to you are…I may be gone, but watch out because Monkeycat Belle wants to get you!!!
Can it be? Has it really been 2 months–9 weeks–since Bo’s amputation? We are so proud of our boy and he got lots of extra special love and treats today.
I must admit, though–Today was hard for me. I was so excited and happy with how far he has come, but then those prognosis numbers popped up in my head. I’m thinking for only a 4-8 month expectancy, these past two months have gone by waaaay too fast! Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I have a new found perspective on life. We are living each day to the fullest and cherishing all of these special times together. Still, that doesn’t change reality and it just caught up with me today.
Anyways…enough of that… Happy 2 Month Ampuversary Bo!!
Here are some highlights of what we’ve been up to:
*Bo is swimming a lot more. We try to let him swim 2-3 times a week. He has always been a water dog, but when he had the tumorous leg, it was painful for him to swim. He is also a diver, and the last time he dove into the pool pre-amp, he whined and cried all the way to the pool steps and got out. On Sunday, Bo did his first post-amp, pool dive. And guess what…No whimpering, only tail wags!! My favorite part about watching Bo swim is that he doesn’t limp or hop, he just swims like any other dog.
*A new favorite activity for Bo is rolling in the grass. It cracks us up!
*We took our first tripawd road trip. Lee, Bo, and I went to my family’s mountain cabin in North Carolina for a long weekend. Bo has always been a good car dog and he even did pretty well as a tripawd. He was a little out of sorts the first night up there, but after that, he chilled out and relaxed with us. Lee and I did plenty of hiking and had a whitewater rafting trip. Bo enjoyed getting away from the Florida heat and humidity and hung out on the porch a lot of the time. He even surprised us when he went romping around the woods. We are so thankful for Kaneda’s harness…it was such a big help to get him around with it.
*An interesting observation is how our cat, Belle, has reacted to Bo’s situation. Before surgery, when Bo had the cancerous tumor, Belle stopped going around Bo. She would barely even sit in the same room with him. Even after his operation, she gave him plenty of space and time to heal. Just recently, Belle has started loving on Bo again. She will sleep next to him, give him nudges, and just generally seems to want to be around him. I know how intuitive animals are, so we are taking this as a good sign that Belle feels that Bo is well enough to snuggle with again. My hubby is a tripawd member now and he posted some recent pictures here: http://tripawds.com/forums/share-your-story/bocephus-a-photo-update/
Well, I think that gets us up-to-date on how things are going! Even if life is going as fast as light, we are still trying to make the most of every moment and to Make Each Day Count!
The real Bo is starting to show his true colors again! I have been greeted at the door for the past 5 days, which just melts my heart. This past weekend was wonderful and we enjoyed every minute of it.
My sister came in to town Friday night and came by with my cousin to see tripawd Bo for the first time. Bo LOVED having company and was hopping all over the house. We migrated to the porch to sit and chat, and this pup did not want to stay inside. He wanted to lay right in the middle of the party, just like usual. He got tons of extra love this night and was in a great mood. He even snuggled with me in the bed for a little while too!
Bo got in the pool for the first time post-surgery on Saturday. With our record breaking temperatures this week, he was ready to cool off. We put on his very cool, lime green life jacket and walked him right in. We were a little nervous, but Bo showed us that there was nothing to worry about…he is a natural born swimmer. In no time at all, he was swimming the length of the pool. We could tell his was concentrating and adjusting to this new movement, but he did not whine a bit…which means…NO PAIN!! We only stayed in for about 10 minutes and then lounged on the porch to get dry.
Sunday was a beautiful Father’s Day. We had a pool party, bar-b-que lunch at our house…which means we had a great houseful of family. And Bo had a blast! He was showing off, prancing all around the backyard. We even saw him go into a mild run! Bo just loves kids and our 10 year old niece got to give him lots of love…he didn’t mind that one bit. He really wanted to go in the pool, but with all of the hopping around he had been doing, we thought that might be overdoing it. We were right; he was too tuckered out to even get up the 3 stairs on the back porch (and he hasn’t had any problem with stairs). He went right to sleep, woke up for dinner, and back to the ZZZZ’s he went.
A big thanks to all of the great fathers out there…especially mine! It was wonderful spending the day with my family and my husband’s family. Shout-out to my amazing husband…Happy Fur-Father’s Day!
Bo is still taking 3 Tramadol a day and we are eventually going to start weening him off. I guess we are a little hesitant to do so because the past few days have been so good. It is inspiring to watch Bo do some of the things he used to do before surgery. Also, it’s good to know that he feels good enough to do fun things, but he just has to work his stregnth and endurance up again.
Bo is still recovering from the active weekend. Right now he is sitting in the living room looking out the window, growling at squirrels and barking at people/dogs that are walking in front of the house. These are the days. 🙂
I went in to the vet today to pick up some more of the magic canned food that gets Bo to eat and they told me that they received the test results from the University of Florida. This is my interpretation in layman’s terms: The cancerous mass has been diagnosed as osteosarcoma. All cancerous tumors inside the “capsule” were removed. One cancerous mass was in the fluid pocket of the capsule. The cancer has not metastasized. All in all, I think it is the best report we could have hoped for. We know he still has cancer, and we know his time is limited, but we are still hoping for the best!
Everyone at our vet is so nice. I showed off some of Bo’s tripawd pictures and it is sweet that they are so concerned about him. They have been great answering our many questions. We don’t have any ill feelings about our previous vet, but we are glad that we made a switch.
While at the vet, I asked them about how soon we can take him off of the meds. He is only taking Tramadol now, 1 pill in the morning and 2 pills at night. They said after a few days we could do 1 in the morning and 1 at night and ween him off that way. However, the vet said not to rush to get him off of the medicine. She said it was something that he could be on for life. I am a little concerned about this because we have attributed his lousy mood with the meds. I will say that since he’s down to 3 a day he has been a little happier…still not peppy though.
On a great note…Bo greeted me at the door again when I got home! Two days in a row!! Also, we have been putting a little bowl of water in front of him to drink so he doesn’t have to walk back to the laundry room to the big bowl. As I was settling in from getting home, he walked all the way back to the big bowl and helped himself to a drink!! That is the first time he has done that since surgery! The little things that were never very significant before are truly making my day now!