I met him one Christmas morning as my brother, sisters and I snuck downstairs to take a peek at the gifts under the tree. He was sleeping there so peacefully until her heard us whispering in excitement when we saw him. This may sound like a story, but it was a true event in my life. That Christmas morning I met and fell in love with the most beautiful mutt I have ever met and he and I were inseparable. He was a German Shepherd and a Terrier mix, but he looked a lot like a black and white Lassie. We didn’t give him a name because as we were told by mom he already had a name, Bootsy (yes, he was named after the p-funk singer Bootsy Collins). The name to us was unusual, but for some reason, it fit him and it grew on us. Out of all the kids, I think I was taken by this dog the most because for years I had been begging my mother for a pet. After many failed attempts of me taking in strays, my mother gave in. I, like my father before me, was a sucker for dogs but I also loved other animals as well. I think I drove my mother crazy with my declarations of wanting to be a veterinarian when I grew up.
Bootsy wasn’t a tough, fighting dog, He didn’t do any fancy tricks, but he had a great sense of direction and he protected us whenever we were out and he sensed danger. I remember him being with us everywhere we would travel. He’d keep my mother safe when we were away at camp, or visiting daddy for the summer, and he’d wag his tail in excitement when we returned home. He was always there when we got home from school, and he’d position himself under the dinner table just right so he could “catch” the red beans or any other undesirable food I “accidentally” dropped on the floor. When we tried to rush back home before the streetlights came on, Bootsy was there with us barking at us to hurry up, and when I lay down to sleep Bootsy slept at my feet ready to fight my nightmares away. I really think that Bootsy loved me most because when he got hit by a car, I was there to bandage him up. Believe it or not, he didn’t get hurt too bad because he managed to hobble away. Being the vet of the house, I had the chore of cleaning and dressing his bandages every day when no one else would. When I was sick I could remember him licking my hand as if he knew everything was going to be alright, and as soon as I was better HE’D take ME out for ice cream (Ha!). Everyone in town knew Bootsy because when he wasn’t with my sisters and I, he would hang out with the neighborhood dogs and patrol the area. People would tell me, “I just saw your dog, he was heading back to your house” or ” I have some bones for your dog if you don’t mind” . I they saw us without him, they would always ask of his whereabouts. From what I heard, Bootsy had some little black and white clones running around as well, though I have never seen any (he did have a brother Tiger, who looked a lot like him but shorter).
It took me by surprise when Bootsy didn’t show up one night for dinner. We all knew something had to be wrong when for a second night there was still no Boosty in sight. We had other animals in the house and I think they might have wondered the same thing. It was I who asked my mom to take me out to search for him because I knew that wherever he was, he needed me. We didn’t find Bootsy that night or any night thereafter. Someone once said that a dog will leave when it know it is nearing it’s time of death, to spare it’s owner from grief. I don’t know how true this statement is but it sort of fits this scenario. In my heart, I knew he was gone forever. I missed my best friend. I can’t believe this but, as I type this I struggle to fight back the tears for my fallen friend. Years later, I can recall a dream I once had with him in it. I really think it was him sending me a message that he was doing alright. To this day, I think he still communicates to me in dreams.
I have since moved on and have had many other pets that have been pampered and loved as I did he. Although it was painful to loose him, having him for a friend (I do not believe he was a “Pet”) taught me about life, love, and loss at a young age. Though it might sound traumatic it’s something we all need to learn early.
Today, I have two cats, Smokey and Sebastian and a beautiful Doberman Pinscher named Zeus, whom I love as if they were my children. Like Bootsy and all my other animals, they follow me everywhere I go, and they are very pampered.
I dedicate this post to Zeus, who will be 6 years old this Saturday. Happy Birthday Zeus!