This isn’t an easy one to write. We lost Bosun last week. He succumbed to a variety of illnesses too overwhelming for even his great spirit. He was a beloved member of our family for over 13 years. He loved life, approached each day with happiness, was kind and gentle to everyone he met and gave unconditional love to his family and friends each day he walked on this earth.
Bo came from a breeder in Greensboro. I looked at a lot of litters before I picked him. I wanted a big-headed, laid-back Labrador. His coat was whiter than many of his littermates, and he didn’t mind if he was rolled on his back or separated from his pals. That told me he was cool. He did, however, mind when, on the way home, we stopped at a friend’s house and he fell headfirst into a water bucket. To this day, I can still see his rear limbs waving in the air as he tried to escape. That episode should have warned me about Bosun’s propensity to seek out water. He always ran through ditches, puddles and into creeks and rivers. More than once when sailing, he’d jump overboard.
Bosun went to obedience school in Easton and was overjoyed to be there. He just loved everyone. It never occurred to him that not all dogs would love him back.
Over the years we’ve had lots of neighborhood dogs wander by. Bosun greeted them all with warmth and welcome. He played well with all dogs, but his best friend Breezy, another yellow Lab, was his lifelong pal. The two dogs spent years almost joined at the hip. Best friends, they’d tour the neighborhood together, swim in the local pond, find carcasses to eat, roll in deer poop, and come home generally pleased with themselves.
Bo’s breeder did an admirable job creating a dog with good hips, elbows and eyes, but he did blow out both of his knees and required bilateral ACL surgeries. It was hard keeping him leashed for the prolonged recovery period, but when inside, he was very patient resting on his bed. We built a ramp for him to accommodate the stairs. That same ramp came in handy later in life as he became weaker.
Bosun started failing over a year ago. I noticed him scraping his nails on the asphalt during evening walks. That can be a sign of a slipped disc, or a spinal cord problem. He was hit by a car last summer and during that general check over at the ER, several suspicious nodules were found on his liver. Without a full biopsy (requiring general anesthesia), it would be difficult to ascertain the nature of the abnormalities. But I started seeing changes. Weight loss became apparent. As a Lab, he acted like he was starving his whole life. But now the pounds just dropped off him as if he’d never been fed.
He developed laryngeal paralysis, a common malady in older Labs where air doesn’t pass easily through the voice box into the lungs. That’s especially true with increased humidity, which is so prevalent here. That made walks more arduous for him.
As is true for so many large breed dogs, Bosun lost his ability to use his rear legs. It wasn’t hip dysplasia, which is a joint problem. He had a spinal cord abnormality, which didn’t allow nerves to transmit signals down his rear legs properly. When a large dog like a Lab can’t move his legs well, then his dignity, his quality of life is gone. Then it’s time.