Boska was a very special dog. I hadn’t had a dog since I was 6 or 7…I’m a cat person…and the only reason Brian and I got Boska was our house was broken into and our landlord said we could get a dog for protection.
Brian was in Norway working on a film, so I went with friends to the Santa Clarita animal shelter to find a dog. I looked at several, including a German Shepherd puppy that was just adorable. But when Boska came out into the little run in the back of the shelter…she had eyes for nothing but me. Didn’t want to play with the toys out there…just saw me and wiggled her non-existent tail. Love at first sight for both of us. Half rottie/half aussie shepherd or healer, she’d had puppies already and was at least 2 or 3 years old (probably more; shelters often underquote the age to make the dogs more adoptable). Her owner was in jail and she’d been in the shelter for three months. They called her Wiggles due to her irrepressible butt movements. She was due to be put down…well, as it turned out, the day I went to pick out a dog. Needless to say she went home with me.
Boska had separation anxiety. She loved Brian, but when we went for walks and I went anywhere away from her, she’d watch anxiously until I came back. She didn’t bark unless strangers tried to come into our house or yard. She was gentle with the cats. She could be let off leash because all I had to do was call her name and she’d run to my side. She was the best dog in the world.
After Brian and I separated, he kept Boska for the first few months. We negotiated a visit and I brought her up to San Francisco for a few months. She went back to Glendale again…then came up to stay with me for a long stretch of time. I was a basket case during much of the time, trying to adapt to a new life and dealing with a tremendous amount of stress. I snapped easily, yelled a lot. Tugged hard on Boska’s leash when I wanted to move on during a walk. I could tell she was becoming afraid of me…I tried so hard to control my emotions, but it was hard. She bonded with Dave, who had endless patience with her as she became older and willful. I’d ping pong between extravagant affection and short-fused temper outbursts. Then Boska had a stroke. It was bad, I was sure she was dying. But she not only survived, but bounced back with a vengeance. 15 or 16 years old, she could still outrun me on the beach.
Almost losing her was the slap in the face I needed. My patience returned and I spent a lot of time hugging, petting and spoiling my girl. I took her for as many walks as I could; Dave walked her in the mornings when he was off work and we’d both walk her on weekends. She slept next to the bed; I wore ear plugs because she made some pretty loud, disgusting noises when she slept. She farted too. Bad enough to peel paint off the walls. But…she was such a sweetheart, it didn’t matter. We’d light a match and live with it.
It became increasingly difficult for Boska to get up the stairs. We had to carry her up the stairs most of the time, which stressed her out too. She started having mini-seizures…something the vet said would happen. I talked to Brian and we decided the best thing for her would be to go up to Humboldt where she had no stairs to negotiate and Brian could keep an eye on her pretty much 24/7. I took her up a few weekends ago and we took her for a couple of walks and basically spent the entire weekend spoiling her rotten. I was going back up through Humboldt on my book tour the following Friday, so when I left Sunday afternoon, it was with a light heart and the certainty I’d see my girl again in a few days.
I called Brian Wednesday (the day the book tour started) and Boska was in the middle of a seizure. She’d been fine the day before, had run up the driveway. But Wednesday morning the seizures started and wouldn’t stop. I could hear her making a barking/whining noise I’d never heard her make before. Brian was trying to hold onto her while we talked…we both knew it was time. I called his vet and told them he’d be in. Gave them the number of my Pet Care credit card. I choked up halfway through giving them the number; I knew I was basically giving authorization for Boska’s death. When I hung up the phone, I lost it…I was at work and luckily no one but my co-worker and friend C.A. had heard my conversation. She hugged me for a moment, gave me enough comfort and strength to call Brian back and tell him the arrangements. Then I went into the bathroom and cried.
Brian called me an hour later. It was done. They’d given Boska an injection to stop the seizures, but there was nothing else they could do. She gave Brian one last lick on his face before they put our girl to sleep. I cried again…then put my work face on, finished out the day and started on my book tour.
I have just now slowed down enough to realize she’s gone. I wish I could take back every harsh word, every time I wasn’t patient with her. I treasure every morning the last few weeks when she’d hear the alarm go off and come to the side of the bed to stick her cold nose up next to my hand or face, then drop to the floor and roll on her back in total canine abandon. I miss her. There will never be another dog like Boska.
I am not a dog person either…but Boska converted me. Truly a wonderful dog. How lucky you were to have her in your life – and how lucky she was that you found her in the shelter. Think of all the years she had and the joy she both experienced and brought to you.
She will be missed.
Oh, Dana, I’m so sorry. Know that she long ago forgave you for the times you were short-tempered with her. Dogs are like that. My Dixie dog’s been gone since 1984 and I still sometimes think I see her face peeking over the kick plate on the screen door as I walk up to my parents’ house.
She was a shelter dog, too; but a puppy, some kind of terrier mutt. We were looking at them all; I favored the dalmation. The keeper came in to put fresh food and water at the far end of the enclosure. All the other dogs ran back there. She stayed at the fence. I turned to Mom, “This is my dog, Mom. Her name is Dixie.” I was not quite 7; don’t know where the name came from, just knew that was her name. We think we choose them, but really, they choose us.
Is there a story behind Boska’s name? 16 years is a good, long run for a dog her size and you, Brian and Dave gave that to her.
Boska is an AMericanized version of Bascia, which is the name of the heroine in a great book called Colonel Wlodyoski. It’s set in the 17th Century in Poland. Our polish friend corrected our pronunciation and would coo at Boska in polish. She loved it!
They really do choose us, don’t they?
I’m sorry to hear of her death. She was a great dog. Because of her, if I were ever to get a dog, I would choose (and advocate for getting) an adult dog over a puppy.
And… Yeah, her farts were pretty heinous. Memorably heinous.
Danis! So nice to hear from you, albeit under such sad circumstances. I hope you, Maggie, Mortimer and the rest of your kitties are all well!
Boska’s farts got worse when we moved to the beach. Dead things off the beach she ate… dear oh dear… I’m glad you knew Boska at her prime!
I too am very glad that I had the chance to know her. She was sweet.
I so sorry!
Wah! Death stinks… worse than farts. I’m so sorry… it’s always hard to be without them. They leave such a big hole in our lives.
Thanks, guys… and death DOES stink worse than farts. Even Boska’s.
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