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.