On your final day on earth...

I mentally began composing this on Sunday, July 16th when I realized it would be the last full day I spent with my big Bubba dog. It was a hard realization and I talked to him all day, reminding him (and myself) of the beautiful times we shared. He was such an integral part of our team here at The Whole Pet, so I thought it important to share with our customers…as so many of you knew and loved Bonaparte as well.

Dear Bubba On Your Final Day On Earth,

Your spirit, dear boy, is willing. Your body, however, is betraying us both. There is a spring to your step but when you stretch to go potty, it is deep red that falls to the grass. The steroids have made you so hungry you'll eat anything, but you have to eat slow because the tumors in your throat make it difficult for you to swallow. You want to run and play and fetch, but the growths in your chest mean you puff and pant, and must lay down often to rest.

You want more than anything to be with me, but now I have to let you go. 

Do you remember, Bonaparte, the first time I saw you? I drove all the way to Scurry, TX when you were five weeks old and saw you for the first time. Miss Julie picked you up and placed you in my arms and I’m not ashamed to say I cried. You were perfect. It would be another 7 weeks before you were mine for good. I had to drive 6 hours home without you and it was torture.

You came home to Fort Smith and you were instantly a celebrity. The first Briard in the city and, until Sephy came along, the only. You were at the shop every day and you were so tolerant. I dressed you up and carried you around and took probably a thousand pictures of you. You were bathed every Friday evening so I could coax your hair into a full, flowing coat and you put up with all of it with the most rock-solid calm personality. On days I helped in grooming you laid beneath my table lazily, never really caring about the hubbub around you.

You stole hearts, Bonaparte. You stole Bill’s heart and Jan’s heart. You stole Miss Jody Clayton’s heart and Miss Leslie Robert’s. You have friends in Teddy and Phoebe, and Miss Abby who got to the Rainbow Bridge before you. Remember your buddy BJ? I bet he was there waiting for you, too.

You were my demo dog in training classes, and you trained SO MANY of our friends. Straightened out the little whippersnappers and played with them once they had some manners.

When Scooter got older and his poor heart couldn’t support him on walks anymore, you learned to pull a cart so he could still go with us. You visited schools and went on cross country trips. You were in magazines and had your picture made with tons of people we didn’t even know. 

One time you pulled your cart in the Fort Smith Christmas Parade, wearing reindeer antlers the whole way.

You protected me, and every employee we had. Remember Cinco De Mayo? The dark parking lot behind Furr’s where our old location stood. An inebriated man from Faux Pas thought it would be fun to talk to us, stumbling out of the dark. You charged and held him about 20 feet from me, not touching him but daring him to take another step. Our foster dog, Yanna, stood with me and watched and no doubt she was thankful that you were there to protect us and her 6 puppies. 

You loved Puppies, Bonaparte. You would have made a wonderful mother. You let them crawl all over you and root around to nurse. You stepped gently around them but kept them all from straying too far. You raised 2 litters of puppies for the Sebastian County Humane Society and both mother dogs trusted you and only you to be in with her babies. They knew, as I did, that your heart was full of love and care for those tiny lives.

You loved Ocho when he was born. You wanted to go in to see him and his siblings so badly and Ziva wouldn’t let you. When they were finally old enough to visit you, you were in heaven. You invited Ocho into our room and the bed, and you slept contentedly with him by your side. I think you knew, Bonaparte, that you were raising your heir. Mostly retired from public life, you knew we needed another big furry employee to greet customers and be a product tester, and to fill the impossibly large pawprints you’ve left in our lives.

You were a light, Big Bubba, an impossibly bright light that shone on everyone you ever met. You left a lasting impression - whether it was your booming bark, your bright eyes, or the huge hugs you gave only the people you loved absolutely best in this world. 

People are going to ask about you in the coming months. People who knew you and loved you. It will hurt to tell them you’ve gone. But it will just serve to remind me how many lives you touched. 

Thank you, Bonaparte, for being so undeniably and fully YOU. 

You will always be my Best Boy. 

When we see Doc we’re going to help you out of this pain. It’s going to be so painful I don’t know if I’ll be able to breathe. But I will be with you by your side to the very end, the way you’ve spent every day of your life by mine. 

I love you, Bonaparte. Rest Well. 


Celebratia’s Because I Knew You


February 2, 2006    -    July 17, 2017

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