Of the many pieces of poetry and memoir that I have written over the past ten plus years, I have never written anything, rather anything good, about my beloved dog, Bowser. There was one bad poem (I seem to have a bad poem about everything), and a second poem that really does not do him justice, but I’ll include it at the bottom of this post anyway. I suppose that in writing this now, I am ready to honor this incredible dog.
My son found Bowser at the ASPCA—a pit bull/boxer mix that the shelter had named Seth. Seth. Who would name a dog Seth? Pathetic. He was quickly, if not immediately, renamed Bowser. Bowser was the nemesis of Mario from the Mario Brothers video game, and yes, Bowser was a turtle, but that spiked collar he wore always made me think there was some dog in there. I will admit I was worried some about the pit bull thing. There were extra forms I had to sign at the shelter because of his dna (although I can’t at all remember what they were for) and I also had a pretty stupid vet at the time who said, watch your cat, he will go after her. But Bowser never touched the cat and was the happiest creature on 4 feet, perpetually happy, he died happy, the most joyous animal I have ever known. And difficult it countless ways.
The first thing he did when he entered his new home was to do a half dozen, high speed circles around the family room and crash into the patio door. He was my problem child. He was the smart ass in puppy school. Lucky for me the trainer liked smart-asses and said they were among some of the most intelligent dogs she handled, but also some of the toughest to train. Bowser was never very well trained–my lady friends put up with his snout in their crotches and handbags for years, and guests often had to sit through the yelling which was my pitiful attempt at trying to gain control over this happy and obnoxious animal. He had terrible separation and thunderstorm anxiety, and did thousands of dollars worth of damage to wood throughout the house. Yes, thousands. He tore both ACL’s (anterior cruciate ligament) and after many more thousands, had two wired hind legs. He had a lot of surgeries to remove a lot of lumps, but by the time he died, his belly was so riddled with large tumors that I could no longer tickle his sweet stomach and make him laugh.
He made the house happy. Always. He smiled all of the time and his devotion to family was unmatched. Despite his faulty hinges he was elegant and proud and agile, a large dog that would push himself into you, almost mold himself into you if you laid with him. He protected us with his strength of character, never with his canine skills. He knew my every mood—the only man in the house who knew how to behave when I was upset, when to back away and when it was safe to approach. He was my confidant and my shadow. He asked for nothing and we gave him everything. He was impossible not to love.
He died by injection at fifteen and a half, in our family room, on his bed in front of a roaring fire. A sunset matched the fire and in my minds soundtrack there was a chorus of angels. I was the one who made the choice to put him down. The vet told me that his legs were just about frozen from arthritis, and that devotion alone is what kept him moving. I placed my face on his and told Bowser over and over that he was the best dog in the entire world—and he was.
He was the best, the bomb,
the bruiser, the boss,
the man, the chief, the chair,
the kingpin, the king,
the ace, the jack, the joker.
He was the whole damn deck. – ph