I'm a big animal person, always have been and it really doesn't matter what kind of animal; dog, cat, snake, mouse, guinea pig, goat, cockatoo. Only things I'm not a fan of are flies and mosquitos... but if you grew up in Australia you would 100% get it. I've always liked animals better than people and a lot of people think I have a deeper connection with animals than most. We always had pets when I was a kid so it's not like I'm unaccustomed to the inevitable. I had one cat that I'd had my entire life and when I was about 10 she was bitten badly by the neighbour's dog and I held her in my arms for over an hour as she passed away; the memory (and pain) has never left me.
I spent most of my teens and twenties traveling so never had my own pet that I was solely responsible for (without parental intervention). When I met Mr. Benjis he had a 2 year old dog named Molson, who I fell in love with before I fell in love with him!
He was an incredible soul, just the sweetest 80lb lapdog you ever did see. He had an amazing life with us going camping and adventuring and buying our house with a big lot for him to run around on. After Thanksgiving of 2018, we got back from our annual camping trip and all of a sudden Molson started panting and collapsed on the ground. My husband grabbed him up, I ripped the keys off the wall, and we raced to the emergency vet who was over 35 minutes from us. I saw in the rearview mirror Mr. Benjis pumping his chest and just begging him to breathe... I remember asking him over and over to please just stay with us. Alas, 2 minutes before we got to the vet we lost our boy. It was hard, but we also knew he had a long and amazing life, so we were just so thankful to have the years we had with him. We even rescued a kitty in Nov 2015 and Molson helped raise him; we call him our KitBull (Mol was a pitty) because even though he was the size of your hand, the little kitty thought he was a big bad pup and would pounce and play fight with Molson all the time.
We had always considered getting another puppy while we had Mol because he would have been the greatest teacher dog, so patient and gentle. After we lost him, it took a while, but in January of 2019 Mr. Benjis had found a lady in the neighbourhood that had an accidental litter of pups; her red-nosed pitty female and mastiff male. I don't deal with loss well, so at that point, I really didn't feel great about taking on a new puppy but was also feeling the hole in our lives and could see how badly my husband needed something. We thought we knew the puppy we wanted from the pics provided, he looked a lot like Molson! We went to meet the lady and the pups when they were two weeks old. As I was sitting in their pen, there was this little yellow puppy just laying upside down, completely passed out asleep, regardless of the other 11 puppies writhing and wriggling on top of him, paws in his face and all! I just about died of laughter and knew that that puppy was my spirit animal. When he finally woke up I got a little snuggle and some pets in and my whole heart was whisked away. I went in not being sure if I was ready and left knowing that the little puppy was supposed to be ours. So in Feb of 2019, when he was 8 weeks old, we took our little puppy home. Bo. He was the most beautiful dog I had ever seen, and I mean EVER! THE most stunning green/blue eyes, a golden/white coat and just the biggest paws and floppiest ears. I was absolutely smitten. It was obviously hard work with a brand new puppy; me never having actually had my very own pet right from the start, and my husband not having had a puppy for 10 years. It was rough but worth it; we put him in puppy training, took him on adventures with us, and one of our best buddies even ended up getting his brother so he had a play friend right from day one!
He was the epitome of a strong and healthy dog, already 70lbs at 8 months old! We had a family vacation planned for Sep 2019, and there's this amazing farm near us that boards animals, so we took Bo for an introductory look around and he loved it! We signed him up, the big day came, and the morning he had to be dropped off Mr. Benjis asked me if I wanted to come, but I told him it was all good, I was super busy packing up for our trip and Bo wouldn't even notice if I was there or not. We went on our vacation (on the other side of the country) and on the second day we got a call from the woman who owned the boarding farm, saying that it looked like Bo was limping. We have always had full pet insurance for all our animals (Molson blew his CCL and needed a $6k surgery that we only ended up paying about $600 for thanks to insurance) so we asked her to take him to our vet to get checked out. From there everything seemed to go downhill very rapidly. The next call we got was that when he was at the vet being monitored, he suddenly stopped breathing on his own and was put on a ventilator. His medical stats weren't very good and they started running tests right away. Every few hours we would get an update of what the vets had done, what had been ruled out, and what their new plan was. By our 4th day of vacation, we had a scheduled call with our vet after an attempt to bring him off the ventilator, where he did ok for a few minutes breathing on his own, then he stopped again and he actually passed away for a few minutes before they were able to bring him back to us. It was at that point we knew we had to go home. It had already been so hard to continue on with our vacation with what we knew, but after that final vet call, we were essentially told to come home and say goodbye. We drove a 4 hour route in 2.5 hours with family in the car, got to the airport and managed to just make the earliest flight out of there (they closed the gate behind us), then we sat on the plane for the most horrible 8 hours of my life on our way back home. Again, I just remember staring out the window and whispering to myself over and over again, "please stay Bo, please stay with us".
We made it home after midnight and went straight from the airport to the emergency hospital he was in. I remember when we lost Mol at the vet, they had asked us if we wanted to go back and say our final goodbyes and a part of me was honestly so terrified because I have a partial eidetic memory and I knew that I would never be able to unsee our boy lying on that table for the rest of my life (I was right, I still see my cat from when I was 10 years old like she's right in front of me). Walking into the room to see Bo hooked up to a ventilator with drips and tubes coming out of him was one of the hardest things I'd ever had to see. He wasn't even 10 months old yet. He was sedated with a cover over his eyes when we walked in but as the vet started talking with us his ears perked up and he kept twitching his head in the direction of our voices; he knew we were there and he knew he wasn't alone. We spent a good hour with him just telling him how much we loved him and how lucky we were to get to be his parents for his time on this earth. We held his paw as they gave him his injection and we said goodbye to our sweet little boy forever. The entire care unit was in tears with us, they knew what a special dog he was. They told us that he had an incredibly severe case of bacterial meningitis and that we would probably never know how he got it. Because he was so young, he just couldn't fight it off. It's a very different thing to lose an older animal who you know lived a good life, to suddenly having your seemingly healthy, young puppy get ripped from you so suddenly. It's been almost a year and sometimes out of nowhere I'll burst into tears over him. He is still the screen saved on my phone and Apple watch and I can't bring myself to change it. I am absolutely not ok still, even after all this time. I can't stand to be asked by people when we'll get another dog. When we first got Bo, the hardest part for me was the overwhelming guilt I felt trying to love someone that wasn't Molson and that took a few months to get past. And one of the things that always sticks in my mind is that I didn't go with him that day to drop him off.
I'm in that same pickle I was in between losing Mol and getting Bo. I feel that hole in our home and our hearts, going camping without a dog is just straight-up weird to us. But I'm also nowhere near close to being 'ok' again or ready for a new dog and I know when we eventually do get to that place I'm going to go through all those same feelings of guilt and betrayal all over again. I'm thankful for my cat (even though he's the world's biggest dick with severe schizophrenia) who I actually almost lost literally one month after Bo! Mr. Benjis was away on a long-planned camping trip with his brother, our cat Tom started meowing weirdly one afternoon. He really hates people, aforementioned schizophrenia, and I had someone in the house to tune my piano so I figured he was just angry about that. The piano guy left and the meowing increased in frequency and volume and after what we'd just gone through with Bo, I freaked the FUCK out, especially without my husband around. I packed Tom into my truck and raced across town to the same emergency vet, the whole time the poor guy was making these horrible, guttural meows. Turns out I got him there just in time. He had gotten bladder stones and it was so bad it had blocked his urethra so he literally couldn't pee and his bladder was incredibly enlarged. If I had been more than 20 minutes longer, I may have also lost him. Thankfully after fluids, medication, and eventual surgery, I got my cat back home safe and healthy. Needless to say, it was a traumatizing 72 hours.
It's obviously something we know going into and what I truly believe is one of the most unfair things in life, is that their lives are so short compared to ours. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with their loss though. I would happily give up 10 of my human lives just to give my Bo back one full life of his own. I know the our future pup is going to help me heal in a lot of ways too, just like Bo did for me with Molson but I need to get to that point of being able to accept the love and I'm just not there yet. My animals past, present, and future are the greatest joys of my life and I would truly rather love and lose than never love at all but my gosh life likes to throw some curveballs at us. I believe that everything happens for a reason and in the time that it should, so I know that when we're ready and it's our time we'll find another pup. We had a situation pop up a few months ago that one of Bo's sisters actually got pregnant and because of what happens to us, the lady offered us first dibs at the puppies if we wanted. It seemed like a bit of kismet... but I just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger, not yet.