For days I've been avoiding writing updates to the blog because Bo was getting worse. His breathing was shallow due to fluid in his chest cavity. His energy tanked after walks.
Then x-rays showed the tumors in his lungs had grown in a week and his heart was enlarged. And he'd stopped eating and was barely taking water.
A colleague called me on the fact that I was mentally slipping into a dark hole and that Bo was only sticking around because he was worried for me. He's always taking care of others! And now I needed to show him I could stand on my own so he could let go of this world.
So on Friday last week I finally accepted we'd found the cancer too late and that we were going to lose him. So Bo and I sat down and had a long talk about why mamma was terrified of losing her friend but that she'd be okay and why Bo had done enough work in this world.
I swear he understood every word.
At one point, I said he'd been the best friend I'd every hoped for and that he was a love of my life. I'm an animal lover, and I've had many pets, but never have I experienced a bond like I did with Bo.
Bo then reached out and put his paw in my palm like we were holding hands and closed his eyes. There was so much love surrounding us both at that moment, and I felt peace between us.
That night Bo declined. I knew he was letting go. And his symptoms got much worse and too graphic to mention. I often had to carry him, an 83lb dog.
So the next day, on New Year's Eve, we spent a final afternoon with him, riding in the Westie (our VW Vanagon pop-top), which was his favorite because it meant we were going on a trip, and visiting the beach at Magnesun park. I told him we could walk as far as he wanted and I would carry him back to the van if necessary. For his last two days I found myself often saying to him, "It's okay, I will carry you."
Bo got knee-high in the water and watched the dogs frolic and sniffed the fresh air. I could see him wanting to run and swim with them. Our hearts fell. Then he came back to shore. He was done.
We put Bo to sleep that afternoon. He rested against my chest and I held him close as he passed and whispered to him "It's okay, go to sleep now."
I felt angry, angry that I had to lose a best friend, angry I had to leave his beautiful body to people I'd paid to kill him. They'd bumbled the euthenasia, so it's a whole new scar for me and my husband. Maybe it was a mercy to help Bo cross, but I never want to have to do that again to any dog.
Bo turned 8 last Wednesday. He should have lived till 10 or 12 or more...but cancer takes a lot of dogs early. And now that I know it's avoidable, I'll make sure my next dog gets better odds and I'll educate friends on the risk factors. Please, take your dog for regular vet checkups, and especially teeth cleanings. Mouth cancer is very common in dogs.
I will finish the book I wrote for him, Bo Doesn't Know, and publish that to Amazon soon, so his legacy can live on to help others.
Thank you for all your support and love and kindness and financial help. Bo is a spirit, a lesson to me and those he touched of compassion and open-heartedness and unconditional love. May we all pass on that spirit to others.
Live, love, and laugh everyday. That was Bo's way.
Christine M. Fairchild