In my last note, I retold some Blavatsky stories LINK about elephants and donkeys.
This time, I wish to pay a little tribute to my own best animal friend.
My friend Bodhi died a fortnight ago. She was just shy of 16 years which is pretty old for a large dog, part Akita. Bodhi was a real trooper and lived two winters longer than reasonably expected. By her last two months, she was unable to move her back legs at all. Her owner helped her in and out of the house. She also submitted to wagon rides to “get some air” in her last weeks.
For most of her life, Bodhi was called Maggie. A few months ago, she was renamed Bodhi, which means enlightenment. Her owner thought sometimes she was moving in that direction.
Maggie came into my life eight years ago and into my home 4 years ago. She had some good retirement years in Harlowton, MT. On arrival here, Maggie had some adjustments to make not least of which was adapting to a new master.
She had been a somewhat confused guard dog for a high stress family in a nearby city. At first, Maggie was always On Duty, barking and menacing passersby. She caught a rabbit once on a run-walk on the edge of town. But then, she didn’t know what to do with the poor creature.
Maggie had been around few people and fewer dogs in the past. Here, she rubbed noses with a few dogs and became accepting of people who were almost uniformly taken by her. “Such a beautiful dog.”
Bodhi loved to run and sniff and kept a close eye on the property and her master until her vision failed and energy waned. She also loved chicken and turkey bones, pork and beef bones, deer and elk bones. Last winter, Bodhi consumed the ribs and vertebral bones of four deer and one elk. She could have downed more, but her owner’s supply ran out.
Bodhi was always thrilled to walk and run any time of day or night. But, my favorite memory of this Akita Inu (Japanese for Akita dog) is of her staring - practically meditating - for hours on end across the fence to the next yard. When not thus involved, she often wandered over in that direction in hopes that our neighbor, Loren, would have dropped some bones or other edibles into Bodhi’s area of control. It never failed that she made a move to that spot on our return from a walk in the country.
Bodhi had a hard time dying. She didn’t want to let go. I think she was addicted to the neighbor’s bone gifts and her master’s reasonably good cooking. Eventually, she stopped eating for three days. Then, drinking water for one day. She died in the dining room.
I find myself talking to her from time to time. She was a pretty good listener. I do miss Bodhi. But since all dogs go to heaven, I am sure she is in good hands and well tended.
Sometime ago, I read Mari Grana’s book called Pioneer Doctor. The book was about her grandmother, Dr. Mollie Atwater. Mari told the story of Mollie attending medical school in Chicago and walking home to her apartment late one night after Haymarket Square bombings (1886). Mollie worried for safety when some toughs approached her.
“Suddenly out of the night two huge German shepherds appeared. Each positioned himself on either side of me and guarded me as I walked down the block past the toughs, who swerved to the side without a word. I could see that the men were afraid. The dogs walked beside me for another block or so until the gang was out of sight and I was almost home. Then they disappeared back into the night from wherever they had come.”
Later in life, Mollie’s husband Charles remarked quite rightly, “I always suspected that dogs are really angels in disguise. Or is it angels are dogs in disguise?”