Friday, September 21, 2012

A Bat-eared, Big-Mouth, Bubble-Butt, Bug

2/1/99 - 9/20/12

Last night I bid goodbye to Bogart.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Just the night before we played fetch in the yard, chased his orange flying squirrel and enjoyed a late night snack of popcorn - one of his favorite foods.  Who knew that the next day, when I had to work late at a Board meeting, I’d receive a frantic call from my roommate saying that Bogart looked as though he was having a seizure.  Three hours later I’d hold him as he traveled that short path to the Rainbow Bridge where Jewel awaited him.  

Thank you to Ellie for holding my hand; Tiff and Jess for calling the troops; Chris, Frankie, Jennifer and Kate for hanging on the phone and via text; and Ann, Tobree and so many others for standing by, hoping for a miracle.

Bogart was given to me on Columbus Day weekend in 1999 by my good friend Kathryn Stein.  Bug, as he’s known, was 10 months old.  Kathryn had taken him into rescue at about 6 weeks old when he was left at a shelter.  He joined Jewel, my 9 year old shepherd mix, and I, quickly fitting in and bringing much life and barking to my family.  After a few months he became known as bat eared, big mouth, bubble butt, bug taking into account all his famous qualities - his pointy ears, big mouth, hairy backside and basic bug like alertness and activity.

Bogart was a dog that many people related to.  He was such a good and happy boy but just to throw a monkey wrench into things he’d break his start line stays, leap off the middle of contacts, steal cheese sticks and cookies and bark and bark and bark.

If there was anything Bogart knew how to do it was bark.  He had a lot to say over the years and he always did it with a smile.  With my early lack of understanding the basics of clicker training I had “taught” Bogart to come to front, sit, bark and get a cookie.  He NEVER forgot that early lesson.  His weave command was “shut up weave” since often he proved that he could not weave and bark at the same time.

The second best thing in Bogart’s life was cookies!  I think Bogart could hear the cookie jar being opened or the cheese drawer sliding out from a 1/4 mile away.  He had a great sit and wave for any treat.

Bogart was willing to try just about anything.  He competed in flyball, obedience, rally and agility.  He tried herding and dock diving too.  His favorite activities were chasing his tennis ball and the flying squirrel. Oh and he was a master at eating a frozen kong the fastest of all my dogs.

Bogart stuck with me for 13 years, living in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.  He was there through my hysterectomy, being my recovery dog.  He was there for my 40th birthday and a few more since then:)

My first blue ribbon, first agility titles, first flyball titles, first MACH points, first agility camp (in Ohio), first dreams of being a competitor, first Regionals, first Nationals, first day of opening the doors at Flying High Agility, and first Gold medal were all with Bogart.  It is because of Bogart I sought out Chris Ott and Speedoggie, with Chris becoming a dear friend and coach who helped make us all that we could be.

My love of dogs and all they power that have in our lives was brought to the forefront with Bogart.

Always my co-pilot Bogart would sit up with me for long those Sunday night drives home from Canada; Stowe, VT; Aston, PA; Syracuse, NY; Maryland; New Hampshire; Chicago, IL; Minnesota; agility camps; and many, many lessons in Jackson, NJ.  He was there for those old days when we pulled up to agility and pitched a tent (he loved to open the tent and run around on his own in the early mornings), then a pop-up and finally an RV.  I’ll miss grabbing Bogart for a quick trip to the bank (they gave out cookies you know), Dunkin Donuts (they gave ham) or anywhere I had errands.  He learned to dislike drive-up ATM’s and I carried a container of treats to give him for those occasions.

Bogart was a great schooling dog, running with many students in classes and competitions.  He was the “first Border Collie I ran” for many and he loved it all; mainly because he got extra special cookies at the end.  Bogart helped my niece, Kate Barbeau, learn agility and he loved his auntie Jen and the great treats she had.

Bogart loved the day when Craig and Kathy Chittenden came to a NADAC trial I was hosting and talked me into moving my trials to Sugar Bush Farm.  He loved their farm and their pond!

We did lots of fun stuff too like hiking, swimming, running on the beach, chasing sea gulls, working in the yard and snuggling up to watch movies and eat popcorn.  Bogart had is own backpack.

I thank Bogart for making me part of his life and changing mine in so many ways.  Perhaps his biggest gift to me was teaching me about patience.  I have none but when it comes to training and working with my dogs Bogart taught me that all good things come to those who wait.  He was 8 when we won that gold medal!

My favorite memory of Bogart is when I was doing an agility demonstration at the Adams Agricultural Fair in Massachusetts several years ago.  Bogart loved demos and his vibrant barking and antics always drew a big crowd.  I’d always pick a couple of kids, give them a few good cookies and let them “run” Bogart on a small course.  On this day the crowd was about three deep and Bug and I were doing jump, tunnel, jump, weave in a small oval.  I’d given my pitch about training and developing a great relationship with your dog and importance that relationship has when the leash and collar come off and you ask your dog to step to the line, focus on you and play agility.  Bogart started the course barking, took the jump, came out of the tunnel, jumped in the audience and stole a kid’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich from his hand, swallowed it whole, took the next jump and finished the weaves.  The crowd clapped and cheered.  That’s my boy!

Wait for me at the Bridge and enjoy your time with Jewel and all your friends.  Until we meet again your voice will always echo in my ears.


Fenway said...

I'm a total stranger just noodling around the 'net and stumbled across your bog and this post. I am sure that somehow, some way, a little piece of Bogart lives on in my Fenway. We are on a similar journey--he's my first agility dog and we've learned together. He's a Tartan Bay BC (Tirade's fu brother) and brilliant like Bogart. I just wanted you to know that your tribute to Bogart brought both a tear to my eye and gave me courage to embrace the thrilling and sometimes frustrating journey. Reading about Bug made it all make sense--the loyalty that puts A lump in your throat and the exquisite sense of merriment and devilish awareness that he can seize an opportunity in the form of a P &J. I hope you have a dog now who can patch up what surely must be a broken heart

Unknown said...

So beautifully written. That one dog that changes us forever into a better person with a richer life.

Unknown said...

So beautifully written. That one dog that changes us forever into a better person with a richer life.