We saw him not long after he was born in the spring of 2005 – Bill’s cousin Matt and his wife Kara’s dog Diamond had an unexpected litter of puppies with a neighborhood shepherd. They were all adorable – Bill and I hadn’t even got a place of our own at that point, but I wanted one of those puppies. I had my sights set on a little brown one I named “Bear”. After a few weeks, Bill finally relented that we could have a puppy – but if we were going to have one of these puppies he said – it had to be the best-looking one. He chose Boomer.
He was a country dog at heart – growing up in rural Indiana. He loved to run around in the wide open spaces, follow us around on 4-wheelers through the forest, bound around in the snow like a deer, and swim in the local creeks. He never took to a leash, they terrified him.(short aside: Bill and I took him to a hotel once, and Bill had to carry him into the hotel, in the elevator, and into our room). In an unfamiliar setting he could appear to be a bit of a big chicken.
However in actuality, nothing could be farther than the truth. He was such a sweet boy – he exuded a quiet calm and strength at all times, something I didn’t notice all that much until it was gone. Throughout the years whenever Bill had to be out of town, Boomer knew it – and took his job as our protector very seriously. He would sleep in the living room by the front door, and listen for anything out of the ordinary. He rarely barked – and if he did, we knew we needed to pay attention.
He lived to please us (especially his Daddy), and one of my favorite things he picked up was that if it had snowed or rained, we didn’t want dirt tracked around the house – so we would make him stop right inside the door so we could wipe off his paws with a rag. As he got a bit older he would hold up one paw at a time so we could wipe it clean, he even lifted his back legs straight back so we could clean them as well. He was always kind, loving, and utterly charming as well.
He loved car rides, and going places with us. He loved the laser pointer with a passion. He was literally the best dog in the entire world. When Lila came along, she would have toys all over the floor. Toys I know that Boomer desperately wanted to get ahold of. Yet he knew he wasn’t supposed to, so he didn’t – always such a good boy.
When he started having hip/joint problems 6 months ago, it kind of took us by surprise. He had always been a very healthy dog. The deterioration happened very quickly – and in August we had to make the choice of whether to just put him to sleep, or to amputate his leg and hold our breath. We chose the latter, we felt we owed him every chance possible to make it.
And make it he did – after the surgery the pain was gone, and – aside from the loss of a back leg – he was back to his old happy self. Dr. Emmert said it was the most difficult leg amputation he’s ever done, and he thought once he got into the surgery that Boomer might have cancer – he tried to get as much of it as he could to buy us time. And so we ended up having 3 months to love him, baby him, and pray that the cancer was gone.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way you hope or expect. Boomer’s stump started growing, his appetite slowed, and he started having GI problems. We gave him daily pain medication and held off as long as we could, while still affording him some dignity at the end. In his last full day it was beautiful outside, and he got to play with his old girlfriend Mally, make a new friend (Tyson), eat some rib meat, chew on rib bones, and spend time with Keith, Bill, Lila, and me.
I won’t detail Boomer’s final day and burial – that was between Boomer and us. However, I will tell you that Lila loves to watch videos on my phone, and for whatever reason – last night she chose to watch videos of Boomer running around outside from the previous day. It simultaneously warmed my heart, and broke it all at the same time.
I woke up so many times last night to check on him, only to realize he wasn’t there. Everywhere we look we think of him. This has already left such a huge hole in our family –Bill and I are just taking this one day at a time. I am so glad we got to be his Mommy and Daddy, we loved him more than I can ever possibly explain. We miss and love you more than you will ever know, Monkey – and I promise we will see you on the other side.