It’s with a very heavy heart that I share the news that a best friend, family member, and bringer of joy in my life has passed. My beloved English Bulldog, Boodha has left this world at twelve and a half years of age.
I don’t know where to begin as far as describing his role in my life and the lives of my family. In his twelve plus years of existence, not a day passed in which I didn’t pour love, affection, and attention into him and he always reciprocated it in spades by bringing joy, humor, and drama in my life.
He fit every stereotype of his bulldog breed; tough, stubborn, powerful, and dignified. Tough, all the way up to his last dying moments when his heart appeared to be quitting on him but he kept snapping back into consciousness and fighting the surrender until it was no more. Stubborn, when he would fight tooth in nail, in defiance to go on long daily walks only to eventually enjoy them, once I could get him started. Powerful, like when he was playing tug a war with two fully grown pitbulls at the dog park and pulling both of them, mouth bloody, and refusing to let go, until I intervened. And lastly, dignified as he stood proudly at my wedding looking on this momentous occasion with a regal tuxedo tie on, and chin up in the air, as if he knew his rightful place in this moment.
He also fit the alpha, K-9, archetype written about in the pages of books and projected on the silver screen. He was fiercely loyal, protective, and tender and gentle with our family, aka his pack. So loyal, always by my side, when in the midst of large crowds at the many events and festivals we frequented with him, or at the beach, or at dog parks, never straying too far, with a watchful eye. Never did I have to worry about him escaping his leash and fleeing like some sort of fugitive of justice. The rare times he wasn’t with me, he showed his loyalty when our time apart ended in a sort of rejoiced, reunion, that he would show in his own unique and subtle style, but not in the “jump up on you and lick your face” variety. Protective, when he would bark at the sights and sounds of a tv screen, at percieved threats such as dogs, bears, etc., especially in the prescence of my wife. With Boodhas powerful prescence I always had the feeling of safety and security and the understanding that he would do whatever it takes to protect me and the family from any physical threats. Was he a guard dog? Far from it, but aside from the toungue and cheek, “beware of dog” sign we posted, if you were a stranger and you entered the house, one look at him at the top of the stairs and believe you me, you might want to go the other way. Like the time he got loose outside and lunged at a cable installer working on our neighbors house, or the time he lunged at my friends face, when they decided to get down on his level while playing fetch with him. Finally, Boodha was always tender and gentle to his pack aka our family. Whether with our often annoying cat who liked to pick on him, or with my pregnent wife, or with our two daughters, he always showed a soft and gentle side to them, never doing more than sniffing them, and never displaying jealous, excitable or hostile behavior towards them. We won’t count the time he nipped my daughters hand during a 4th of July celebration , since it was a clear attempt to protect the pack by extinguishing the fireworks. Never once do I recall having to worry or correct him for inflicting harm on the physically vunerable members of the family. As a matter of fact, I had to correct the family members instead of him because I had the sense that he would never harm them even if he was at the receiving end of their provocation.
My beloved Boodha also defied plenty of conventions. Despite his breed and the shorter life span and known health issues, he lived five years beyond the average age of his contemporaries and never had the myriad of health issues so synonymous with these dogs. As a matter of fact, despite the powerful build, he would always surprise me with his speed, agility, and stamina, whether that was the long hikes we would take with him, playing with other dogs, or playing tug a war with his favorite rubber rings, or fetch with his favorite green ball. Even when he was old and half blind he approached fetch with the same intensity as in his youth and even partaked in this favorite game of his, with me, on his very last day alive. As for his health, besides chronic skin issues from time to time, frequent and potent flatulence, and a few, close overheating scares, he was a model of health and vitality that defied the odds. He always kept a healthy appetite and was mobile all the way up to the night of his passing. Despite his “meat head”, lumbering, appearance, he was no dimwit either. His ability to follow commands and know what you were asking of him were second to none. Whether that was training him to go up and down stairs in a specific manner and position or training him to sit on command before receiving a treat, his ability to pick it up quickly was uncanny. Now once he learned something, whether he chose to listen or comply was a whole another story!
Lastly, even though he wasn’t a human companion, he defied my expectations of what a true bond and friendship could be. He was unconditional about everything he did for me and his only concern seemed to be showing his love and bringing joy in my life. Sure, he made me mad sometimes, and he made me cry like right now, and he also made me laugh all the time, but most importantly, my quality of life was better with him.
So in his passing I have to go back to his last moments on this earth because it epitomizes how his life and our relationship was:
After a routine day with Boodha that culminated in his favorite game of fetch with his cherished green ball, with me in our man cave, while watching sports, he uncharacteristically clamored to go outside and proceeded to behave very strangely. At that point, I had the suspicious feeling it might be time. So late at night, as he lied on the ground with me and my wife, and I watched him close his eyes for the last time and drift away forever, I thought to myself how I would so dearly miss my friend. However, I also rejoiced and sought solace that he lived a fulfilling life and gave me a fulfilling life in return. He got to leave this world in my arms, a way so fitting for him, with so much grace, dignity, and beauty, without pain and suffering.
And so I say, “Boodha, I will forever remember you, and you will be missed my best friend and family member. I am eternally grateful for the gift of joy that you brought me and my family and the lessons of unconditional love that you taught me.”