R-E-L-A-X. Take a deep breath. My beloved Boston Terrier isn’t dead just yet.
I’ve seen a lot of people writing on social media recently about the loss of their dogs. Their words and pictures are always poignant and soul stirring. But because their furry four-legged friends were already six feet under, the posts were also hauntingly sad. It got me to thinking—just like with our human loved ones, shouldn’t we be paying homage to our beloved pets while they’re still fully alive and kicking?
Ten years ago, I would have scrolled right past all those emotional social media musings without a second thought. You see, back then I wasn’t just indifferent to dogs, but I’d just as soon kick ‘em in the head. I was bitten by a dog as a kid, so I was naturally kind of scared of them. Plus, dogs were a genuine nuisance in my mind. They barked, they needed to be fed and groomed, they chewed on shoes and furniture, and they stank. I still remember going over to a friend’s house after school, and it always smelled like…wet dog.
Man, how times have changed. I’ve since learned that having a dog alters your entire perspective on life. Nowadays, I read every single one of those pet-centered tributes with moistened eyes and a sorrowful heart. Believe me, it took me half a century, but I finally fully get it now. They’re called “man’s best friend” for a reason, and I want to tell the world about my best friend, Bingo, while he’s still around to enjoy the accolades.
Bingo’s nine now. That’s the same age as me in dog years. We’re both slowing down, and I’m not sure how much more precious time we have left together. However long that time is, I’m planning on savoring it to the max. After all we’ve been through, I simply can’t imagine life without him.
The truth is, Bingo saved my life. No, he didn’t drag me out of a burning house ala Lassie or Rin Tin Tin. But my little Boston Terrier came along—a godsend from heaven—at just the time I needed him the most. As my wife was battling her demons, I got Bingo as an act of desperation—a last-ditch effort to ease the burden for Kanisa during her journey of spiraling depression.
Unfortunately, the ploy didn’t work. Man plans, God laughs. Kanisa ended up paying Bingo absolutely no heed. I was the one left filling his water bowl and scooping his poop.
During the first two years of his life, I was still working full time, so Bingo remained cooped up in his pen for ten to twelve hours at a time. I did my best to keep him active, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re always slumped over the dental chair. My heart literally aches when I think of those dark nights of the soul when that poor little puppy just laid around in solitude.
Saturdays and Sundays did, however, provide a temporary refuge of escape. I started taking Bingo on weekend trips. Glorious, fun-loving, carefree joyrides out to the countryside where we could both decompress and chill from the rigors of the work week and Kanisa’s psychotic rants.
Gradually, as I transitioned closer into retirement, those weekend activities became the norm. My worries of having this “mutt I had to take care of” gradually morphed into the merriment of a “little buddy I enjoyed having around.”
Those of you still reading know exactly what I’m talking about. As human beings, we’re wired for companionship. As that companionship with my wife teetered on the brink, many well-meaning friends told me to simply abandon ship. “No need to destroy two lives,” they said. I didn’t need to hear that. Nor did I need any tempting distractions luring me into activities I would later regret.
No, all I needed at the time was a playful little slobber-mouthed, bug-eyed, tail-wagging, loud-snoring, foul-farting fur ball to keep me company. Bingo ended up going everywhere I went—on long runs, covering sporting events, jaunts to the beach, and cross-country airplane rides out to California. https://huangswhinings.com/2016/05/04/holding-my-breath/ I found myself immersed in the world of pet-friendly hotels, dog parks, and restaurant patio decks. Although life wasn’t necessarily grand, it suddenly became imminently survivable.
And now, here we are—both Bingo and I on the sunset side of our fleeting time on earth. With the average life span of a Boston being ten to fourteen and that of an average American male being seventy-six, our most productive years are undoubtedly behind us. Those sobering statistics don’t lie. If I heed my own advice, I better cherish every single second of our remaining moments together.
Here’s the best thing of all about Bingo. Kanisa loves him more than I do. It took a little while, but he eventually worked his magic on her also. For the past couple of years, the two have been inseparable. He’s been the best therapy money can buy.
So, I want the world to know that BINGO IS A GOOD BOY. As I’m writing this, my miracle mutt is at my feet snoring away. When he wakes up, I’m going to give him a huge hug. Then I’ll leash him to my waist (and heart), and we’ll go running off into the sunset together. https://huangswhinings.com/2016/05/06/i-love-la/