Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A boy, two parents and a dog. NOT a story about running...

This post has nothing to do with running.  At all.  But, I deal with most things through research and writing so I have decided to write this.  

I promise there won't be many of these non-running posts and at the same time hope that many of you will "get" why I am writing this. 

It's a story about a boy, two parents and a dog. 

You see, the boy grew up loving animals. 

He first asked for a cat.

But, the dad's allergies made that an impossibility.  (The dad almost gave in on this because the boy wanted it so badly....but the dad's allergies were practically life-threatening, so common sense eventually won out.)

So, the boy asked for a dog. 

And, the mom--in her infinite wisdom--bought the son two guinea pigs.  (I never said it was "wise" wisdom.)

Fast forward several years and the time was finally right for a dog. 

So, the boy and the mom told the boy's music therapist (also part of a Boston Terrier rescue group) who said, "If you ever want a Boston, let me know."

Later that night, the mom did a little research on Boston Terriers.  And, her first thought was, "Oh, my.  Not very cute little things are they?"  

But, she read and she read and she liked what she saw about their temperament and personality. 

So, the mom gave the music therapist a very detailed list of what she wanted in a dog and said she was willing to wait for the right one.

A few weeks later, the music therapist called.  "I have prayed about this and I want you to know that I think the dog we are currently fostering would be a good fit.  The only thing is that he's a little older than you wanted.  If you're interested, we can start going through the adoption process.  If not, that's OK, too.  There are plenty of pups out there who need forever homes."

The mom didn't know the dog, but she trusted the music therapist and gave the go ahead.  After a phone interview and a home visit, the family was approved for the dog. 

He was nine years old, named Iggy and came with a near-perfect background.  The dog had been originally purchased by a family who lived next door to a dog trainer so he was well mannered.  He was housebroken with no behavioral issues and just needed someone to provide him with a forever home.  

He came from a known background--two sisters--one who originally purchased him and gave him to the second sister after having a second child.  The second sister apparently did the same thing and wanted to give him back after her second child, but first sister said, "No give backs."  To their credit, they gave him to a rescue so he could go to a good home and not be euthanized.

So, the dog showed up at the boy's house with a crate, two blankets, a bowl, a leash, a collar and a loving heart.  

His first night at his new home was a little dicey since he didn't care for the guinea pigs that much.  And, he worried his new family with all of his strange sounds (that they later found out from the music therapist was something called "reverse sneezing.")

But, soon, he had captivated the entire family.  Each one of them fell in love with the dog who had so much love and spunk.  

He could jump almost three or four times his height when the doorbell rang.

He could also jump on all the furniture and made himself at home wherever he landed. He could even jump on the parent's bed--one that had a high mattress--even though he still slept most nights in his crate.  

He loved food.  LOVED food.  Would do just about anything for food.  In fact, the only toys he ever liked were food-oriented ones.  Of course, with the food came the infamous Boston Terrier gas....yes, often if you couldn't see him, you could still smell him.

He enjoyed company and gave kisses to all who allowed them.  

He was fiercely protective of his house and wanted to show who was boss.  Because, after he became used to those darned guinea pigs, he would growl at them--but only when company was there. 

He loved to have his butt scratched and to go for walks.  The family had to use code words for that "w" word because he was so smart he eventually learned what "going for a w" meant.

He loved his blankets and had the most amazing way of wrapping himself up in them--sometimes poking his head out and other times, just enjoying the solitude of being under the blanket. 

And, the dog who was supposed to be for the boy became the mom's shadow.  Everywhere she went, the dog went with her.  The bathroom door even got nose prints on it from where he would nudge his way in when she was getting a shower. 
The dog had his issues and would sometimes get in trouble for peeing on the floor.  And, he could be a grumpy old dude--making it very clear that things had to go his way.

But, the family became Boston Terrier fanatics.  The mom even put an "I love my Boston Terrier" sticker on the back of her car.  When on vacation, the entire family would ambush anyone with another Boston and talk about their love of the breed.  Every time, the Boston love was returned--it seemed anyone who ever had a Boston waxed poetically about their love for these little dogs. 

And, when he started to have a little bit of arthritis, the family closed up the crate and allowed him to sleep wherever he wanted.  The mom also purchased two additional beds, including one with special properties to help with canine arthritis.

They also got steps for him so he could get up and down from the bed at will.  

And, then, things started changing a little more.  It was obvious he was getting older and even less able.

He stopped being able to jump as high.  And, then, later--he even stopped barking at the doorbell. 

He had more difficulty walking and took about twice as long to go on his regular walk. 

He began to ignore the guinea pigs; the mom could even leave the crate door open as she fed them and he didn't make a move. 

And, he began to get confused.  He'd still follow the mom around, but he couldn't always place where she was.   He sometimes growled out of confusion if he was woken too abruptly. 

Then, he grew a weird spot on the top of his head.  At first, the mom and the dad thought it was a tick, but it grew too large.  Eventually, it was discovered to be a tumor and removed.  

But, it grew back and seemed to grow even faster than it had originally. So, the vet came to take another look, but instead of concerning herself with the bump on the head, the vet seemed to be interested in some belly tenderness. 

She recommended an ultrasound to see what was going on.  The mom and the dad dragged their feet a little--mostly because they wanted to believe the dog was suffering from dementia and nothing more.

One night, the dog became obviously distressed and couldn't even lie down without immediately getting back up.  So, the mom, the dad and the boy took him to an emergency vet who took X-rays and discovered two massive tumors--one in his chest and one in his abdomen.  

They put the dog on prednisone and pain meds--playing around with doses for several weeks.  And, the dog rebounded for the most part.  While it was obvious that he was older and slower, he still loved his food, loved to snuggle and wanted to be everywhere the mom was. 

The tumor on his head grew even larger and began to ooze blood.  In fact, the mom joked that it sometimes looked like a crime scene in the house because he'd shake his head and blood would spatter. Or, he'd rub his head against something and the blood stains would stay behind.

But, within a fairly brief 24 hour period, he started to go downhill.  He needed to be carried up and down the stairs.  He shook and panted hard most of the day. 

And, the mom called the dad and said, "I think it's time."  

As they waited to keep their evening appointment, they shared as much time as they could with the dog.  And, he kept them amused in his typical fashion.  He refused most food, but ate turkey lunchmeat with a good deal of enjoyment.  

When the mom and the dad carried him outside to go to the bathroom one last time, he refused to be carried up the stairs--something he had allowed for the previous 24 hours. It was almost as if he was stubbornly saying, "I'll do this my way." 

The boy couldn't go along and the parents honored his wish to stay at home.  Emotionally, it was too hard for him to say goodbye. 

The mom and the dad took the dog for one last ride and the dog was too weak to sniff out the window, but he leaned in against the mom, closed his eyes and enjoyed what he could of the ride.  

Shortly, after getting to the vet's, it was all over in a humane and peaceful way. Finally, the dog was at rest after a strong battle. 

But, the dog has left a huge hole in the family.  And, even though the mom knows there are much worse things in life, it's hard for her to be at home. She listens for his toenails tapping on their wooden floors.  She looks for him when she's in the bathroom.  She sees things lying on the floor and thinks it's him.  And, as she types this, she looks longingly at his bed that she had recently placed near her work table so she could watch him as he rested.  

She also feels guilty that she should have taken him on more walks, more trips to the dog park and fed him more treats along the way.  And, she regrets the fact they they only had him in their lives for four short years. 

She knows, this too will pass and that one day there will be another Boston in the family.  But, for right now, she hurts and she misses the stubborn, grumpy old guy who gave nothing but love and more love. 

Rest in peace, Iggy.  Know that we loved you and were so proud to be your forever home.  

Iggy in his bed as he slept while I worked.

An earlier photo of him enjoying a peanut butter-filled Kong. 

A tribute created by the boy. 


  1. Your story was beautiful, a tribute that I'm sure Iggy would be proud of and thank you for if he could. Sorry for your loss. I just lost my 14 1/2 yr old female Boston, Rosie. She was a good friend to me for all of those years. Rosie made me smile every day. Up until the end when she couldn't walk, stand, or even drag herself to her water any longer. We knew it was time too. An awful ride, yet a necessary one. A piece of our family went with her that day. My sweet Rosie. God bless all of them. Thank you for sharing your loving story.

  2. Thank you! It's funny--we still talk about what he's saying to us from doggy heaven! Sorry for your loss of Rosie, too. Was she a rescue BT?

  3. A runner is more than just sneakers and pavement. When we run we think of our lives, our dreams, our mistakes and the people and dogs that make it all worthwhile. The ones that touched our souls.

    Thanks for sharing your Iggy story. I volunteer with NEBTR and am glad I came across your post. Thanks for honoring him and most importantly thank you to your family for making IGGY yours.

    You should share more than running. You are an incredible writer and as all runners (or in my case long distance walkers) know we are so much more and its our lives that fuel the run