A dog’s tale

Our dog Bosse was adopted from a dog-shelter in Spain 4 years ago.  They could only estimate his age, because nobody knew how his first years had been spent; probably out in the streets, living off whatever he could find. Then somebody found him wondering around and brought him to the shelter, which gave him up for adoption.

He was such a pretty little thing – in the picture we got he looked like a small, white wolf. And when he finally arrived to us, he was just like that – only thin, malnourished and full of fleas. The first thing we had to do was to throw him in the shower, which wasn’t easy, because he was still rattled after the flight from Spain and not accustomed neither to us nor his new surroundings. But we got through that and slowly – with a diet consisting of meatball pieces and meticulous shows of mutual respect, he slowly began to trust us.

A few days into his stay, he realized that this wasn’t perhaps such a bad place after all – plenty of food available and the new flock seemed pretty decent. He followed me around wherever I went and every night he slept on the rug next to my bed. For the first year he stayed by me like a constant shadow. Whenever I went away he was miserable and anxious and whenever anyone else from the flock left he couldn’t quite rest until they returned. Finally, well into his second year with us, he (occasionally) managed to switch sleeping spots, without fearing he’d lose us if he didn’t keep track all the time.

Afterwards we learned that this is often the case with shelter dogs: once they get to be part of a flock they are extremely affectionate (bordering on obsessive) – as if they remember what it feels like to be all alone in the world. And I think that feeling never quite left him. He’s always been at his happiest when everyone’s at home and things are quiet. Although he’s been a beautifully behaved car-dog, he’s never really liked to travel and each time we’ve returned home from a trip, he’s slept soundly for days, apparently full of relief for having a home to return to (and everybody there with him).

Soon after we got Bosse we discovered that he was suffering from leishmaniasis, a lethal disease caused by a sand-fly common in warmer climates. With proper medication it can be kept under control for some years, but the dog’s life expectancy is shorter, so we knew from the start that at some point his immune system would fail. And then, last spring, Bosse started to display symptoms of the disease spreading: a a runny  nose, strained breath and he no longer seemed to enjoy going out running with me, which we’d previously been doing several times a week. In summer it got worse and even though anti-histamine treatment eased the symptoms slightly, it made him drowsy and tired. During the past 3 months the infection has spread and his beautiful fur now has bald spots, his eyes are red and watery, his nails are brittle and his breathing keeps getting more and more strained.

Having dreaded it for weeks, today I finally did what every dog owner at some point has to do: I took him to the vet to hear her opinion. When I heard her say what I already knew, all of a sudden I could see his suffering. Usually he’d been all exited going there: lots of fascinating smells and he was always full of affection towards our vet, whom he really liked. But today – as if he had known what was up – he just lay down on the floor, nose facing the door and closed his eyes, breathing heavily.

There and then I knew the moment we’d dreaded for the past 4 years was now a fact: it was time to say goodbye to one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever owned and the most trusting, loving and loyal companion anyone could have.

Eyes filled with tears and hearts filled with sorrow we wish you a good journey to where you’re going and we hope you’ll remember us with all the love we’ll remember you.

RIP Bosse.

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