Happiness is a Warm Puppy

It was a Sign.  No doubt about it.

Sunday morning, 8:10AM, October 27, 2013.  It was THE Sign.

I turn on the Channel 2 (WCBS in NYC) for the weather forecast but I get the anchorwoman talking about “senior citizen” dogs from the Manhattan ASPCA who need homes. I see two little doggies squirming in the bright TV lights. They do not look happy to be there.

Then the TV shows the mug shot of one of the dogs, a cocker spaniel called Boogie Girl …

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“She was called Boogie Girl by her old owner, but you can change it,” the ASPCA told me. First of all, I would NOT change a name that a dog’s had for 17 years. Second, I thought “Boogie Girl” was a FANTASTIC name.

…I know immediately. This is a Sign, from the Universe, that Boogie Girl is meant for me.

To back up a bit: I have been a proud Crazy Cat Lady all my adult life. But ever since I married Top Cat and went to live in the suburbs of Long Island in a house with a beautiful back yard, I’ve had a hankering to broaden the scope and endeepen the depths of my human existence by getting a DoG.  But deciding what kind of DoG person I was — that was impossible. The DoG world has too many variables: small lap-size cuddler? Big goofy labrador or retriever? Mid-size pit bull? Super-smart poodle or shepherd? Really dumb bull dog? I had no idea.

But as soon as I see Boogie Girl on the TV I know that I am, without a doubt, a Boogie Girl kind of DoG person.

The following Wednesday, I am at the Manhattan ASPCA, meeting Boogie Girl in person:

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That’s the Adoption Counselor, above, walking Boogie Girl through the Cat Room to prove that she has nothing against cats. Done deal. I make an application, give references (including a vet reference), pay the $250 adoption fee, and on November 6, 2013, I am back at the ASPCA to bring Boogie Girl home!

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Front passenger seat, Toyota Camry hybrid, about 11 o’clock in the morning, Nov. 6, 2013.

I took this picture (above) after I pulled the car out of traffic on First Avenue, to settle Boogie down so she wouldn’t get us killed by crawling all over the driver’s side  — she was supposed to have stayed in the back seat, curled up on a blankie I’d brought for her, but I hadn’t been warned that she had probably never ridden in a car before and did not understand the protocols.

I took this picture to commemorate the very moment that I dedicated my life to her: There she is, looking at me, and in her eyes I see that she is dreading/pondering  what new shit has happened to  her now.

And I look back at her, ashamed that I don’t even know how to take a dog for a car ride, and I promise her, “Baby DoG, (when I don’t call her Boogie Girl I call her my Baby DoG), I may not know what I’m doing, yet, but I want you to know that I will protect you, and love you, and we’ll figure it out together in your forever home.”

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How CUTE is she in her Winter coat????

Boogie Girl had already been through a lot. She was one of 4 dogs rescued from a deplorable living situation in a hotel, from an old lady who had long gone senile, and finally been evicted, so the state had come in and removed her to an assisted living facility and called the ASPCA to come get the animals.  Boogie Girl had been at the ASPCA shelter for 6 months and was the third (of the 4 dogs) to be adopted.

When I met her, Boogie Girl was 17 years old. She was hard of hearing, and also a bit hard of seeing (inoperable cataracts — her heart couldn’t withstand anesthesia). In other words, she was perfect.

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Top Cat filling in on dog-walking duty. It was snowing and I just could not go back out there to go on a sniffing expedition to the neighbor’s garbage cans for the third time that day.

Boogie was 18 pounds when I got her — she was thin. Later, I figured out that if it took 6 months to get her well enough for adoption, the poor thing must have been in very bad condition when she arrived at the shelter. I figured it out because, at home with me, she was so frantic and greedy every time she ate (I think that’s called “food insecurity”) that I had to save her from herself or else she’d puke from over-eating. So that’s how I begin to  parcel out her feedings to three times a day, and make her scrambled eggs, eggs over easy, and gravy; and give her spoon fulls of cat food to delicio-tize  her kibble, and let’s not even start with the wet food catering (all veterinarian-approved). By the end of the Winter she had put on about five pounds and couldn’t fit into her cute little coat any more.

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She only used her meshy harness for a week. It irritated patches of her skin that were bald. She only wore a collar when I put her on the leash — my Boogie Girl was going to have as free-range a retirement as possible.

The ASPCA did not tell me that Boogie Girl  wet her bed most nights. See that spiffy $100 bed (above) I got for her? It lasted a week. It was so big that I had to go to the laundromat in town to use the triple loader to wash it every time she, uh, piddled in her sleep, and as I was not capable of spending hours of my life going to the town laundromat three-four times a week, I knew I needed to come up with a home-based bed-washing/keep Boogie in clean beds system. Voila:

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Don’t judge me for putting her in a cardboard box — I’ll explain in a minute.

The cats got Boogie’s $100 old bed. She now has four different little beds (on rotation; she goes through two a day) that fit nicely in my home  washing machine. A friend advised me to get an indoor pen for her boudoir, so we pulled up the rug on our slate-floored den, put down two shower curtains, and circled them with a light-weight pen. The pen was never locked, and it was very flexible. It was more of a suggestion of boundaries than a hard core kennel.

We laid down newspaper on top of the shower curtains, and every night we carpeted her pen with nice clean Wee Wee pads  (see above).

And after her long night’s sleep, THIS is what I have to clean up (see below)  every morning:

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Now, about the cardboard box: Everything I know about taking care of Boogie Girl, I learned through trial and error, and one thing I learned about Boogie is that she is a sloppy sleeper:

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So, if I want to save her from sleeping head-first in her own night soil, I have to contain her in her bed somehow.  And that’s why we started ordering really big stuff from Amazon just to get the box:

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See that butt? She doesn’t have a tail, so every time she’s happy her whole back end wiggles, like at 100 mph. And we wiggle together, to a song I call ” Happy Boogie Butt! Happy Boogie Butt!”

It works. It isn’t pretty, but it works.

Boogie Girl and I spend most of our days together in the den, but Boogie Girl’s den is a big room. It’s 350 square feet. It has 7 regular windows and one big picture window. It has two sofas, a stuffed chair, various end- and coffee-tables, and my desk. This is a picture of her, hogging up the whole left side of my office space, while I’m trying to type the Damn Garden Book:

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Here’s another picture of my working conditions:P1210043

And another:

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She also comes with me upstairs when I work on stuff in my painting workroom. This is a picture of her in my work room, snoozing in a bed that was not meant for dogs:

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Here’s another picture of her in amanuensis  mode, in my workroom:

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One thing that the ASPCA didn’t tell me, kind of an important thing, was that Boogie Girl had never been house broken. I figured it out myself after our first five days together, but I wasn’t going to traumatize her with training at this point in her life.  This is her happy retirement. So I try to manage her tendency to answer the call of nature inside the house by walking her four or five times a day —  Dear Readers, I must confess: having to trot her to the same neighbors’ trash cans four or five times a day so she can sniff every last bit of discarded rotten food gets tiring. Crazy tiring. And gross. But who am I to deprive Boogie of such pleasure?

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Spring sunshine — and Boogie Girl at her shaggiest, right before her Day of Beauty at the groomer’s.

Once upon a time, Boogie Girl found a chicken bone in the middle of a street around the corner. I took it away from her, of course, because it was disgusting, and for WEEKS afterwards, we had to make a detour to go to that same exact spot, and sniff around for a chicken bone that might have magically re-appeared. WEEKS. And yes, to make up for my guilty conscience about that chicken bone, I  put baked chicken on her dinner rotation.

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The Boogie after her Day of Beauty at the Groomer’s. I can’t believe how small she looks, because her place in my life is HUGE. BTW, Boogie is not a cuddly dog, so this is as much huggy-time as I could ever get from her, altho she does let me kiss her on the nose every time I want to.

Boogie Girl is, in short, needy, picky, and a  handful. She’s also a bit smelly, but she is dignified, brave, and gentle.

Because Boogie Girl had so many care-taking requirements, Top Cat and I had to stop traveling to week-end get-away destinations. And every place else.

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That’s Dudley, checking out the intruder to his back yard territory. Yes, that’s an empty pizza-box in the flower bed to the right. It’s DUDLEY’S pizza box.

I cart Boogie Girl off to the vet as frequently as I take her to the groomer  — at least every six weeks. New dog mom, old dog, nutty amount of love … I panic about her health a lot, and I am happy to hand over a couple of two to seven hundred dollars just to be re-assured that she’s not going anywhere, no matter how heavenly, any time soon.

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Dudley LOVES to nap on his pizza box in the flower bed. Who am I to care if it makes our place look trashy? Dudley likes it, end of story.

Even with me watching over her, Boogie Girl has managed to crap in every room of the house. TWICE. Every room. Rooms that have carpet, rooms that have oriental rugs, rooms that have hardwood, and rooms that have tile floors.

I have stepped in it, in bare feet, only once. And once in stocking feet.

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How does Boogie get along with the cats, you ask? She gets along like this — she sniffs, determines that they are not food, and ignores them. This seems to only annoy Taffy (seen here, trying very hard to get her attention).

I’m telling you all this so you will know that Boogie Girl thoroughly up-ended my cat-lady life and household. I’m telling you all this so you’ll know that from the first day we were together, my life had to be all about Boogie Girl, and I’m absolutely fine with it, and I’m telling you all this because from Day One my heart was Boogie’s  and will always be hers. I’m telling you this because I only had her for nine months, two weeks, and a day, and I miss every time consuming, exhausting, totally boring dog walking, garbage can sniffing, laundry doing, cleaning up-aftering, sloppy sleeping, wolf eating, dinner-making, bed-making, panic-making, never-off-my-mind second.

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Notice that she is not hugging me back.

Boogie Girl was not a cuddly dog, but she and I had a deal. When her time came, she would be at home, with me,  Top Cat, and a kind, soft-spoken vet. I would make her a feast of her favorite people-food treat (baked broccoli casserole with bread crumbs and garlic), she would scarf it down, and she would let me carry her to the den. She would finally let me hold her in my lap, and wrap my arms around her, and tell her what a beautiful wonderful lovable DoG she was, and keep smooching her silly head, while the vet put her worn out little soul gently to sleep.

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And that’s exactly what happened.  Boogie Girl died of congestive heart failure on the night of August 26, 2014.

I could’nt sleep that night: The vet had taken Boogie to Westchester, to the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, to be cremated, and the house was suffocating me with her absence. I was haunting myself for not having done every thing perfectly for her. Mostly, I couldn’t sleep that night because I never wanted to  wake up in the morning and not have a Boogie Butt wiggling with happiness to see me.

But I was too exhausted to resist a few hours’ sleep, and then it was the next day. First thing,  I made a frantic call to Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester to say I had to see my Boogie Girl one last time, could they give me a one last viewing, please please please? They said Of course. I went limp with relief.

Then I gathered up Boogie’s cans of wet food and big bag of dry, and her purple harness that she used for 7 days, and I took them to the local county animal shelter. Seeing a stranger hold Boogie’s old harness made me cry. So I went home and drank tea and passed a very numb day.

(I held onto her beds until October, literally held onto them. I held and inhaled and said my Boogie’s name, until it got cold and I thought of the little dogs who might not have cozy beds of their own and I made another trip back to the county animal shelter.)

And the next day, there I was driving up and down Central Park Avenue, hyperventilating and still to able to breathe, in heart-attack mode, seeing black spots in front of my eyes, because I was lost in goddam Westchester.

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Imagine that you are a 40-ish guy, sitting at your desk at Scarsdale Ford, on a perfectly average, normal Thursday morning. Suddenly, a wild-eyed lady storms into your showroom, clutches her head, and says, “I’m  lost and I’m going to faint.” She’s talking kind of loud and can’t catch her breath. She drops herself down in the seat front of your desk and, hands trembling, she hands you a sweaty, crumpled piece of paper with the address of the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery on it, and she before she bursts into tears she  says, “I have to see my dog one last time and I can’t find her.”

She keeps saying, “I have to see her, I have to see her. And I’m lost!!”

You take a moment to figure out that what’s happening isn’t a prank. Then you dial the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. You tell them that there’s a woman having a nervous breakdown in your office because she’s worried that they are going to go ahead with the scheduled cremation because she hasn’t arrived on time and you think she’s a no-show but the truth is that she’s going crazy from  being lost [in goddam Westchester] for the last 40 minutes. You write down directions, you hang up the phone, you turn to the weeping lady, and very calmly and slowly, you say:

“You’re only half a mile away. The entrance is hidden on a side street. Go here, turn left here, turn the corner there.  You’ll be at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in ten minutes. Don’t worry. They’ve still got your dog and they won’t start without you.” The woman still looks bat-shit crazy, but her crying is quieter now and she lifts herself up from the chair in front of your desk. She says, “Thank you so much. I was so afraid I’d never get to see her again, and I have to see her one last time.”

Then you say, “Can I give you a hug? I’ve been through it too and I know what you’re feeling.” So you give the lady a hug, and she starts crying again, and she sobs, “I miss her so much!”

The lady turns, and leaves the building. Two days later you get a card in the mail, addressed to “Kind Person Who Helped Me Find the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery”. The crazy lady tells you her name, tells you that Boogie Girl was the name of her dog, apologizes for barging in on your work day, assures you that she is not usually that much of a nut job, and thanks you profoundly and humbly for your humanity.

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And that’s how I finally arrived at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery.

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I sat with Boogie for a quarter hour. She was laying in a little bed with white satin sheets and her head was on a white satin pillow. I clipped some locks of hair from her silly little head.

I saw her all the way to the door of the crematorium, and then I turned away. I walked around the cemetery for an hour. The cemetery is a beautiful place.

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then I collected her ashes, and drove home without incident.

Every time I sit at this desk, Boogie Girl is right in front of me, in a flowered tin box.

People ask me if there’s a big difference between cats and DoGs, and I say, “And how.”

People ask me if it was kind of stupid to adopt a senior citizen dog to be my first DoG ever, and I say, “I was probably in a little over my head.” And I also say, “I hope I made her happy.”

People have asked me if it was worth the effort and expense and heartbreak  to care for an old DoG that you only know for such a short time, and I say, “I don’t know any other way of having a DoG.”

People ask me if I’ll ever get another DoG, and  I say, “I’m on the lookout.”

All I need is a Sign.

47 Comments, RSS

  1. Patricia January 30, 2015 @ 9:58 am

    Love comes in all shapes and sizes. You found yours in a dog shaped size called Booie Girl. You’re lucky she found you and she’s lucky you found her.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

      You’re right, Patricia. The hole in my heart is exactly the size and shape of a silly old cocker spaniel named Boogie Girl.

  2. Maryanne in SC January 30, 2015 @ 10:16 am

    There’s nothing to comment-write when one is wiping away tears. Thanks for telling us Boogie Girl’s story, Vivian, and here’s a big hug from another Crazy Lady. XOXO

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:56 pm

      Thank you so much Maryanne; I’m glad that my darling Dear Readers have made Boogie Girl’s acquaintance.

  3. Gigi January 30, 2015 @ 10:29 am

    Thank you for this tribute to Boogie Girl, and for being the sort of person who would make a sad little old dog into the happiest dog she could ever be. Though I was quickly reduced to teary mess while reading this post, I was also cheered – to be reminded that incredibly empathetic, compassionate people are about in the world. In that regard, this story is a tribute to you, too, though I know you did not mean it to be – at all.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:58 pm

      Thank you, Gigi — Boogie Girl was a handful … and she was very immediate with her food critiques, nosing the offending dish under the dry sink to make it disappear and then she’d give me a pathetic look that said: “Mousies stole my breakfast and now I’m just a sad hungry puppy DoG hoping that some nice lady will make me scrambled eggs.”

  4. Barbara January 30, 2015 @ 11:43 am

    What a life-changing gift you and Boogie Girl gave to one another. I’m so sorry for your loss. I was a mess reading it, and related to it as well, having lost 3 dogs and 3 cats throughout my life. Our pets become our best buds.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 4:08 pm

      Vivian: You are totally right about that — my Boogie Girl was life-changing. And I know you know, and how.

  5. Nina January 30, 2015 @ 11:43 am

    First I was laughing because Boogie Girl is such a character, and then I was teary-eyed because Boogie Girl was such a character. I’m glad she had you for a forever family, even the cats.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 4:08 pm

      Vivian here: Boogie Girl stills keeps me laughing — she really was a character.

  6. Megan January 30, 2015 @ 12:29 pm

    Oh how sad. I have an idea how you feel, my dog died about 8 years ago she was 17 years old, I had her from four weeks. I think of getting another dog but really just want my dog back… I am as attached to the cats though, from two dogs and two cats we are down to the last cat. Why don’t they live longer it’s all too cruel to be left behind. You made her happy and she might not always have had a difficult life, I’m sad for her first owner too. On a brighter subject, you’ve got to love Dudley and his pizza box, we had a stollen box for four months once, our Chester loved that box. Funny creatures, oh and Taffy trying to get attention, so precious.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:56 pm

      Dear Megan (from Vivian) : Oh my, the total Mind Meld that you must have had with your sweet puppy; no wonder it’s hard to imagine making another bond like that. We call all our cats “Chester” when we can’t think of their rightful names fast enough. “Chester” is such a friendly and happy name — it suits all of our herd.

      And thank you for a thought that I’ve never had before, that Boogie “might not always have had a difficult life”. TIt tore me up thinking that she’d been neglected EVER, but the thought that it might not have been her whole life story brings me much comfort. Thank you.

  7. Mo January 30, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

    Vivian, first let me say: Welcome Back! i’ve sorely missed you during your hiatus! and secondly, i grew up with dogs so your story really struck a chord with me. it’s a very sweet story, and bless you for adopting an older dog and making her final months comfortable and happy. you both benefited from this loving partnership.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

      Mo, thank you for reading my Boogie Girl story. It makes me happy that good people know her name. She was the best DoG.

  8. Patricia January 30, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

    Shredder, our inherited seventeen lb cat has shrunk to eight and a half lb and is very ill. This is our last weekend with her and your post was timed perfectly for me. We had her half her life (she’s 16).
    So this weekend she’s getting non-stop belly rubs (her favorite thing ever) and all the treats she wants. And then we’ll say goodbye.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

      Dear Patricia: Thank you for letting me know about Shredder. I’ve LOVED that name ever since you first told me about her, and it breaks a little bit of my heart to send her this good-bye (with tears in my eyes). Being with these dear creatures as they go to their life’s full circle, with treats, and care, and ease, is the last loving thing we can do for them. It’s also the hardest. I think caring for the companion animals who depend on us, especially at this time, with full acknowledgment of and devotion to their equality to us as sentient beings, is one of the few things that makes our species almost heroic.

  9. Helen McHargue January 30, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

    Boogie Girl was so lucky to spend her last days with you. I have a huge red nose now from crying, blowing and reading between the tears. I’m so glad she had a bit of time in your lap and heard how much you loved her and I’m so happy you are back.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:54 pm

      Thank you, Helen. I really did have a one-of-a-kind Boogie Girl.

  10. Jeannie January 30, 2015 @ 4:37 pm

    Sorry, I had to clean up the puddle of tears before I could comment. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that sounds trite, but I can’t come over and give you a hug right at the moment. Thank you for giving Boogie Girl the best possible last months. Boogie Girl’s story is my sign. I have had this dilema for the past couple of months. New neighbors with 3 cats, 4 dogs, and 5 little kids. Piglet (I call him Simon because he is too dignified for Piglet) decided that he liked my backyard. It is quiet, lots of birds, two indoor cats to tease, you get the picture. Simon is 13 or so. His owners just shrugged their shoulders when I voiced my concern about him moving in without asking. I didn’t want another elderly cat after loosing 2 in the past 3 years and another one on the first steps of the Rainbow Bridge. But, Simon just wants love and food. I have ample, but didn’t want to “steal” a cat nor did I want an older cat. Been there, and the heartache is still present. After reading B.G.’s story, I know the answer. Simon will get all the love and food he wants. A quiet place to daydream and knowledge that not all humans are uncaring idiots. Thank you and Boogie Girl for helping me solve this. (I knew in my heart what I want to do, I just had to get the head to agree.) HUGS

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:54 pm

      Jeannie, O my DoG! I and the Boogs are deeply honored! I think, though, that Simon probably has access to some ultra-vibrational karmic information — after all, he DID choose YOU, and are cats ever wrong? And yes, I do know and sympathize with your struggle when it comes to adding another being into the herd when that being comes with what can only rationally be called “a big downside”… but then, if we were “rational”, we’d never have gotten ourselves in the situation of being the leader /Head Butler of the herd to begin with. I know Simon will thank you every day for the refuge and security you’ve given him. He’s a lucky cat, and you are The Chosen One.

  11. janet b. January 30, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

    thank you for letting us know your sweet boogie girl. i cried like a baby reading her tale, and then went and hugged my sweet miss mushy. you’re a good egg, vivian, and boogie girl, one lucky puppy, was a great gift.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:54 pm

      Thank you, Janet — seeing as how Boogie Girl loved eggs (over-easy, scrambled, and hard-boiled), I’m very glad to be one!

  12. Laura January 30, 2015 @ 5:03 pm

    Boogie Girl taught your heart patience, compassion and acceptance through her unique “characteristic behaviors”. To have this opportunity to expand the possibilities of ones heart, for any length of time short or long, is truly a blessing. In just reading your story, I feel that my heart has grown, too. I am sure that other readers feel the same. Know that our hearts magnify the love you feel for Boogie Girl. Thank you for sharing what I know was a difficult experience to put to words.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

      Oh my — Thank you, Laura. It means a lot to me that you now “know” Boogie…and I dream that somewhere, in the continuum of the Universe’s eternity, that Boogie Girl feels that love.

  13. Loretta January 30, 2015 @ 10:16 pm

    I always believe that dogs find us, not the other way around. Boogie found you and once she did, she knew she had her forever home. I know just where that pet cemetery is and as I was reading it, I kept thinking “I wish I”d known! I would have taken her there!” I’m sure there’s another dog looking for you and when he or she finds you, you’ll know. Going off to wipe my tears away. So glad you are blogging again!

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

      Loretta! You know the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery! I had actually been there previously, when I lived in Pelham, and I think the only reason I couldn’t find it was because I was not in my right mind, or, to put it technically, Totally Out Of It. And thank you for the kind thought about Boogie. I truly hope that she felt as chosen as I did.
      P.S. I hope that we’ll meet one day under non-cemetery circumstances. I think I’m actually kind of scary-crazy when I have too much of a connection with dearly departed souls.

  14. Michele January 31, 2015 @ 2:00 am

    Hi Vivian,
    I was totally choked up as you take your first journey together from the ASPCA. Then as I continued reading all in such a short time happiness and sadness, I guess mixed together then utterly frantic then a sense of relief and finally peace… what a lucky person to have found Boogie Girl and her you. She is so gorgeous as a sloppy sleeper i guess you had a permanent smile on your face whenever you looked at her. Then the tears flowed… You enriched each others lives…

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

      You got that right, Michelle. Boogie Girl made me laugh every day. After she died, the house was so quiet that I thought I was in sensory deprivation mode; I had not realized how continuously I had talked to her, all day, every day. I pretty much narrated every thing we did…I miss that.

  15. Vicki in Michigan January 31, 2015 @ 8:53 am

    Thank you for the positive difference you have made in humanity’s karma balance.

    Giving that poor lost old dog the best months of her life was huge. Thank you.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

      Thank you, Vicki, for giving me karmic credit — I think every devoted carer of a companion animal redeems humanity. I’m honored that Boogie Girl let me live in my better self for nine months, two weeks, and a day…and maybe still now, five months and five days after I lost her.

  16. Jeanie at Marmelade Gypsy January 31, 2015 @ 9:52 am

    Somehow, I suppose the earlier past tense of “was the best dog,” I knew this wouldn’t be a happy ending. And to be honest, it’s taken me a few minutes from reading the end of the post to be able to comment, because tears do that to you. Grief does it — remembering your own feelings about saying goodbye.

    Could anyone tell this better than some crazy DoG mom who loves that baby through everything, no matter what all the everythings bring? Through pee and poop and chicken bones and dog beds? You made me laugh, you made me weep. But mostly, you made my heart fill with gratitude that in those last years of her very troubled life, your sweet Boogie Girl got a little bit of heaven on earth. Good food, long walks, soft beds, boatloads of love and the understanding that “bad dog” just wasn’t worth it. Gypsy’s ashes are right by me. He works with me, he watches me. I’m glad you got to be with Boogie Girl one last time, and that she’s with you, always. Big hugs. (This had to be both an easy and terribly hard post to write. But perhaps a healing one.)

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:51 pm

      Jeanie — so right you are. Our sweet Gypsies and Boogies are the best and worst of times, and we wouldn’t have it ay other way. Their little beings take up a huge part of everything we’ll ever know about pure love (both giving and getting). Makes it ALL worthwhile.

  17. Sally January 31, 2015 @ 9:58 am

    You have often made me laugh, you have often turned me envy-green with your lovely tiny paintings, last week you filled me with nostalgia for Paris, and now you’ve made me cry.
    I gasped with amazement when I learned that your “starter” god [stet; good typo], I meant DOG, was a nursing home candidate. I know what that entails: (Our part spaniel pooch, The Doggy, made it to a bit over 17 before he wore out). What a kind and courageous lady you are to have given that pooch as comfortable and happy an end as any dog could have.
    Hooray that you have discovered, let’s say, a supplement to cats! I DO hope that Boogie Girl is not the last dog in your life.
    Welcome back to blogging, and here’s a big ((((((((cyberhug)))))) in sympathy for the loss of that sweet doglet.

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:51 pm

      Sally, my dear — YOU are the courageous one! You were in it for the long haul, from puppyhood to angel hood, and from what little I know of how deep the human-DoG bond embeds in our hearts and minds, I know that being Present for 17 years is true service to the ideals of compassion and love. Thank you for including me in the Roll Call, though; I hope, with you, that I will again have the opportunity to give back to the DoGdom.

  18. a quiet life January 31, 2015 @ 10:11 am

    i needed to compose myself before commenting, i truly needed to slink away to dry my eyes and grab a cup of tea to fortify me again. i want to thank you for giving boogie girl such a wonderful end of her life… it takes a special person to step in knowing that their heart will be broken so soon. i would love to do what you did, but i have a dog that is not as accepting of others, i can only adopt the very young so she is not intimidated, but i have seen countless of seniors that tug and pull at my heart. bless you for stepping in with others can’t… i hope you see many signs in your future~

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

      Dear Quiet Life: it’s a summons, isn’t it? Finding the DoGs that need what we can give is a carefully thought-out calling (oh yes, I get very magical-mystery-tourish about this) and no one answer is better or worse than another. We can’t care for every DoG, but we can take the best care of the DoG that is chosen for us. BTW, I already like your DoG: neither of us is very accepting of others. I think we’d get along fine.

  19. Kathryn Wert January 31, 2015 @ 2:48 pm

    I have loved and lost a few great Dogs. One thing I have found is that I never have to go out seeking a new Dog. They seem to appear in my life, the perfect one, with no effort at all. And then let the loving begin!

    • Vivian January 31, 2015 @ 3:49 pm

      Kathryn, I want that! I want that! From your mouth to DoG’s ear, I want that!

  20. chel January 31, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

    This made me just cry and cry and cry. I lost my BELOVED Delilah cat (beloved beloved beloved) almost two years ago and I openly admit I’m not near “over it”. Now we have Milo the kitten (he’s almost two but still a giant kitten, including tearing the house apart on an hourly basis) and my heart is full again, but there’s always that big Soul Spot that Delilah will always occupy. I’m so sorry for your loss, but even happier that you and Miss Boogie had a Happily Ever After together. (I think Boogie Girl would make an awesome kid’s book, just saying…)

    oh, and… http://images.nitrosell.com/product_images/9/2155/large-sign-this-is-it.jpg

    • Vivian February 1, 2015 @ 1:46 pm

      I would only say this because it’s about these two dearest souls otherwise I would cringe to hear me spout this but … I hope your sweet Delilah and my baby DoG Boogie are together in a warm and loving place over the rainbow. I CAN’T HELP MYSELF. I lose all rationality when I ponder the exceptional wonderfulness of companion animals.

  21. Sarah Faragher January 31, 2015 @ 7:23 pm

    Hello Vivian, what a beautiful tribute to this perfect loving creature. Boogie Girl won the puppy lottery, by finding you. Thank you for wearing your heart on your sleeve… heartbreaking but what else is life for, but the giving and receiving of love.

    • Vivian February 1, 2015 @ 1:48 pm

      You have such a good point — what else is life for? When it comes to these dear companions, I’m more than willing to give and give and give.

  22. Catya February 1, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

    Vivian, you dear sweet lady!
    I am so happy to have heard about your Boogie Girl, and I’m very sorry to hear that her happy retirement with you and Top Cat and the cats was short. It sounds like a most excellent retirement and in the pictures you shared she looks like very contented. As do you. I’m so glad that you found each other. I’m thinking about you.

    • Vivian February 1, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

      Thank you, Catya. I found Boogie hard to read, but then, I’m new to DoG body language, so it’s good to know that you think she looks contented. However, if you could have seen Boogie Girl eat cat food, you would have seen out-of-body contentment. That Dog LOVED cat food.

  23. Deborah S. Farrell February 1, 2015 @ 8:10 pm

    Dogs make us more fully human — that two-way street of love just blisters through the computer screen with this story.

    I hope you catch some of Puppy Bowl XI on Animal Planet tonight.

    Wishing you & some lucky dog a SIGN soon.

  24. Liza February 2, 2015 @ 7:32 am

    I’m sitting here trying to simultaneously hold coffee, type, and wipe away tears. As a dog lover and general Vivian Swift fan, thank you for giving me one more reason to appreciate you. Thank you for giving Boogie Girl the kind of life every dog deserves and for sharing her story with us. I wish every Boogie Girl could find their own Vivian Swift and Top Cat.

  25. Janet February 2, 2015 @ 11:22 am

    Vivian, I knew how the story of Boogie Girl would end, so I waited until now to read this moving account of Doggie Rescue and Retirement. You have an amazing gift as a storyteller because you are an amazing person with a big heart and a keen eye. I am as touched by this tale of love and devotion as everyone else. Since it turned out that I spent some time yesterday in a cemetery visiting the graves of my father and my sister and thinking of last goodbyes — before I had even read about the last months and days you spent with Boogie Girl — your post was especially relevant. Grief is volatile emotion, sometimes quiet, sometimes vicious, but one that creates a prism of sadness through which we view life going forward. I love the photo of you hugging Boogie Girl, your long hair blowing in the wind. That is a picture of pure joy, and it is that feeling in the long run that will prevail.

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