One last walk around the block
When Devalyn and I were married, I got a stepdog in the deal. She was a schnauzer-poodle mix, not very house-broken and pretty much queen of the house.
We were on a collision course. When the new carpet was laid, Bogie broke it in.
I was raised in houses where dogs were walked on leashes. At the end of Kodi Circle, Bogie roamed free.
That freedom meant chasing the Gleason’s cat, digging through the neighbors’ garbage bags, running home with a coyote on her tail and generally creating havoc.
My good intention was to make her the dog I thought she should be. It never happened. Instead, I got too attached to the dog she was. A dog taught me one of life’s most fundamental lessons. We don’t change loved ones. They change us.
Devalyn told me last night she made the toughest decision for dog-owners. People usually say they’ll never have another. I’ve said it twice before.
The first was a golden retriever I grew up with and put down when I was 20. The second was Sam, another golden retriever, who raised me through my 20s.
“Call me whenever you think it’s time,” said a young veterinarian in Sheldon.
I remember it was well into the night when we met at his office. I held Sam. The young vet and I were both crying. A couple of months later, my daughter Lucy was born. It was almost like Sam knew his job was done.
So last Saturday night, I walked into Dev’s back door in Tipton. Bogie usually slid to a stop on the hardwood floor to greet me.
This time she walked even slower than she has the past few weeks. The clicking of her nails hitting the floor had longer pauses of quiet. I split the difference and met her in the middle of the kitchen.
But the tail was moving back and forth as fast as ever. The little stinker put a smile on my face one more time.
She clicked the back door with her paw. I got the leash and some paper towels. I think our walks benefited me more than they did her.
I never saw the coyote incident. Bogie roamed because that’s what she was used to and there was a lot of open space at the end of Kodi Circle. Dev swears the coyote only stopped chasing Bogie because it heard her voice. After that, Bogie and I spent a lot more time with her leash.
Her Kodi Circle wildlife stories weren’t limited to coyotes. She chased toads, squirrels, deer and raccoons. She watched squirrels at the back-porch bird feeder until she decided it was time to police her territory.
A paw scratch at the front door got someone to let her out and run at top speed to the back yard. The squirrels flew off the porch and tried to beat Bogie to a tree. Bogie waited patiently under a barking squirrel, until she decided the game was over.
That game was cut short when she blew out a couple of back legs and ended up in Ames for reconstructive surgery.
Dr. Phil Miller watched her play with a toad one night while enjoying a summer evening on his deck. Some substance Bogie mouthed on the toad’s skin made it hard for her to breath. Dr. Miller came to the rescue with a shot of benadryl.
I never thought I’d get so attached to a little dog that wore pink collars.
Our last walk Saturday night was a trip around four sides of a single block near downtown Tipton. It took so long Dev came out looking for us.
Dev’s text and call last night didn’t surprise me. It’s still sad.
Jeff Wilson is publisher of The Ledger.