Friday, January 15, 2021

Farewell to a majestic floof




Boo's birthday was May 20 and I still remember when Corinna sent us the first pictures of our newborn puppy back in 2006. Corinna was a bit crazy in the way only the best dog breeders are....she wanted to make sure her baby was going to a good home and was very determined to make sure Cathy and I would be good parents. The whole "taking the dog to Nunavut" thing worried her a bit. But we reassured her we would take good care of him.

Never mind that the apartment we were living at that time didn't allow pets and that our request for a new place hadn't gone through yet. Details.

But it all worked out. We got a new place. Boo arrived and changed our lives. More than once I wondered if we would have stayed in Nunavut if it wasn't for him.

I am of an age now where myself, family and friends will look back and go "no, that was yesterday." The 50th anniversary of an influential record. I have friends who are horrified to learn they've known me for 30 years. Later this year people are going to deeply freak out when they realize that the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies are going to celebrate their 20th anniversaries.

And I sit here this evening in our very quiet house and wonder where 14 and a half years have gone. Poof.

This is at least my third draft of writing this. The others were just filled with too much rage and anger. That it wasn't goddamn fair that Boo, that majestic piece of floof as a friend called him today, was going to leave us. He was too good a dog. This wasn't right. Not when we still needed him so much.

But that's not how these things work. We've known for awhile that the clock was ticking very loudly for Boo. Coton de Tulear's (Fourteen years and his breed name has never not sounded silly to me) live between 14 and 16 years. And yes, his sight and hearing had gotten severely compromised. But he was still so strong, energetic and playful. He still loved going for walks. He was still taking short ones a week ago. Up until Christmas if you caught in the right mood he'd do one of his zoomies, where he'd run around the living room like a lunatic barking joyfully at his humans.

But his personality began to change. He became more nervous and dependent on Cathy. That escalated through the fall and fell off a cliff right after Christmas. We had to leave lights on around the house at night, even in our bedroom while we slept, otherwise he'd start to panic. He began shaking and panting for no reason and it would take hours for Cathy to get him to calm him down. And it just kept worse. I looked in his eyes on Tuesday and our Boo wasn't there anymore, just a very scared little dog that didn't know what was happening anymore. And we were helpless. We couldn't make it better.

So we made the hard choice that anyone who has lived with a dog and who truly love them eventually have to make. It was the right decision, but god today was hard.

I said my first drafts of this were filled with anger. I started writing this on Tuesday when I knew Friday was likely our last day. And then Cathy and I posted up on Facebook that Boo was gone and the outpouring of grief and sympathy was overwhelming. I likely will never thank all of you individually - I tend to cry whenever I do - but if you dropped a line of condolence then thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

But it helped ease away my anger and bitterness. It helped that if you met Boo you knew what an awesome dog he was. If you have or had a dog, you know how hard this is. But many of you never met Boo. It occurs to me that he was, of all things, a dog born at the start of the social media boom. Every now and then Boo would show up and light up your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This little white fluffball. The majestic floof. He was a good looking dog. I suspect it was to Corinna's frustration that we never bred him. But whatever his looks, his personality and love were enormous.  We could not ask for a better friend and companion all these years. Whenever things might have gotten rough, Boo was there. The sadness will end, eventually. Then, hopefully, just the love remains.

I end with this story. Two years ago we came back from Christmas in Newfoundland just shellshocked. We'd been there for the holidays and to be with Cathy's mom, who was seriously ill. And then she passed suddenly. It was just a hard, hard Christmas.

So when we came back to Iqaluit I was genuinely worried Cathy might squish Boo to death. Cathy had gone back to Newfoundland in mid-November to be with her mom and hadn't seen him in almost two months. She just needed her dog and Boo, being Boo, was just happy to see his humans. But particularly the human who spoiled him the most. There was much wagging of tails and jumping on his back paws to say hello.

Later that night, after Cathy went to bed, I took Boo aside and had a chat. "Look, little buddy," I said, "I know this might get rough for you because you're getting up there, but I need at least two more years, ok? You just can't go anywhere yet. She needs you too much.

"You have to stay."

And he did. He was a Good Boy.



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