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Episode #12: All About Bogie, at Almost 15-Years-Old

I wanted to share the story of Bogie with you, this time. My little guy. My little black pug. Those of you who listened to Episode #9 of Audacious Freedom the podcast, know that I brought Bogie home when he was 12 weeks old, which was almost 5 months after the sudden death of my 4-year-old pug and COMPANION, Cookie. Even as a very young puppy, I knew Bogie was very different from his relative Cookie. I had gotten them both from the same breeder in Staten Island, about 4 and ½ years apart from each other but they were definitely related to one another. Bogie’s father, Beethoven, and Cookie were ½ brother and sister – they had the same father and they were the same age, give or take a few days. Yet they lived VERY different lives from one another. Beethoven stayed behind in Staten Island and Cookie came with me to Manhattan. Beethoven wasn’t really a pet, but served to father puppies and Cookie wasn’t exactly a pet either – she lived THE LIFE with me on the Upper West Side and traveled extensively throughout her short life with me to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, North Miami and even on many of my business trips to Tampa and Hartford. At 6 months old, Cookie was my travel companion all the way to Amsterdam for a week and a half vacation! Cookie had THE LIFE for sure and I convinced myself that HAD I chosen 12-week-old Beethoven to bring home instead of 12-week-old Cookie, she might have been kept by the breeder to birth litters of puppies instead. I believed that Cookie had been destined to live a short life and I was happy that I had given her the life of a princess rather than one that might have ended during the birth of a litter. I mentioned that Bogie and Cookie were very different from each other, even when they were just puppies. That’s because Bogie is just like his father, Beethoven – that’s right. The pug I did NOT choose when I chose Cookie – because Beethoven was so so sweet and snuggly and Cookie was up in my face kissy then running off to do her own thing. At that time in my life, Cookie’s personality was better for me. And then, 4 and ½ years later, I pretty much ended up with Beethoven anyway, in his son, Bogie. Bogie is EXACTLY like Beethoven was – a Mama’s boy who loves to snuggle in my lap and bury his face in my neck. Bogie – at almost 15 years old now – still gets excited for the blanket on the sofa when it’s time for us to snuggle. He approaches my side of the bed for a lift up and under the covers at bed time. When Bogie was first with me, I FIRED his first vet because she thought I was babying him too much during our visit. Bogie was nervous and climbed up on my shoulders and wrapped himself around my neck like a boa. I was okay with that. He’s my little man. Who the fuck are you Dr. vet to place judgment on Bogie for being a big baby and for me to protect him? Fuck that – we’re out of here. There are way more vets on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I didn’t SAY any of that, though I did THINK it AND I ACTED on it. Today, I’d like to think that I would actually say those words to stand my ground for what I believe in for my family. Way too many times in my life, I have lost my voice with authority – in THIS case, Dr. Vet. And I don’t know why I was so intimidated by her. Yeah, she’s been to vet school and I haven’t. But she and I were probably the same age – about 40 – and I may not have gone to vet school, but I was – and am – a professional in the Corporate world, advising senior leaders – and I have a Masters degree. Also, I was still suffering from the sudden loss of Cookie as a result of an allergic reaction to the anesthesia on the operating table for an abscessed tooth in a DIFFERENT vet’s office – and I was FIERCELY protective of my new baby. I don’t remember who Bogie’s new vet was for the next 6 months or so before we moved downtown to Wall Street. I do remember that the first time I took Bogie to a groomer for a nail trim, he was so nervous that he pooped on the poor girl! She took it all in stride as she brought him back out to me, wearing a fresh new T-shirt. “It happens all the time,” she said, sweetly. I also do remember the vet we found for Bogie downtown, a kind and patient young Italian man with a wife and family. This vet understood what happened to Cookie and my protectiveness of Bogie and he remained Bogie’s vet, even when we moved to Midtown a few years later. OTHER than kind of being a big baby, Bogie was really low maintenance for many years. At about 1 and ½ years old, Bogie’s dog walker called me from our Wall Street apartment and said, “Something’s wrong. I opened the gate in the kitchen to take Bogie for his mid-day walk and he BARKED at me and BIT through my Ugg.” I was like, “What the – ? You are the sweetest person and he’s NEVER bitten anyone or anything in his life!” I raced home on foot from my office in the World Financial Center and took one look at Bogie, sleeping in his bed in the kitchen and I just KNEW. He was done with his middle of the day walk and wanted to be left alone to sleep all day. Bogie would be literally a 2-time a day walk kind of dog – just morning after breakfast and evening after dinner – until he was about 13 or 14, so very recently, when he began to get chronic UTIs. He wouldn’t be able to hold it – of course it is no fault of his own – and we started keeping him in diapers all day and night in case the antibiotics weren’t working – or, when they had run their course and soon after he gets another UTI. We’ve got the diaper thing down, most of the time, except for when I’m particularly tired and sometimes the disposable diaper or the diaper cover are put on a little loose and he walks right out of them. My 2-time a day walker, Bogie, has now been about an 8-time a day “walker” – which more of a CARRY HIM OUTSIDE, take off his diaper cover and diaper and set him down next to a tree. Bogie is such a good boy about doing his business. He’s such a NYC boy and could pee on literally anything – the corner of a building, a lamp post – or even on a person! Yes, he’s been known to pee on a doorman’s FOOT if you’re standing around too long chatting. 

Bogie is two months shy of 15 years old now and he has out-lived Cookie’s lifespan by nearly 11 years. He’s lived almost 4 times as long as she did. Sad as it was that Cookie died so young, I like to say that she went out BEAUTIFUL though. No gray hairs, no illnesses and nothing but lots of the good life. Bogie still has a good quality of life – he LOVES to eat and *YELLS* at me – BARKS at me – the whole time while I prepare his breakfast and dinner and add in all his meds. GOOD LORD. ALL his meds. He takes something 3 times a day to prevent seizures, he takes 2 different things for his digestion, something for his allergies, he takes something for healthy joints, something to support normal health and function of his kidneys, CBD oil for pets and he’s on prescription food for his kidney disease. My once LOW-maintenance dog is now quite HIGH-maintenance. He has given me many scares in the past few years, too. I thought he died in front of my eyes when he had his first, VERY DRAMATIC seizure at my aunt and uncle’s house the morning of the 4th of July in 2018, I think. My daughter, Bogie and I had gone to their house for dinner and a sleepover and the 3 of us had gotten up early – around 6am to take Bogie out for a pee and poop and to feed him. My aunt and uncle and their 3 dogs were still asleep in their room and I had set Bogie’s food dish down with his kibble and he began devouring his breakfast. I turned to clean up the sink while my daughter watched Bogie and I heard a BONE-CRUNCHING THUNK and turned to see Bogie lying on his side on the kitchen floor. “That’s it,” I thought. “Bogie has just died. Right there on the kitchen floor of my aunt and uncle’s house. Doing what he loved most. EATING.” My daughter and I called for my aunt and uncle and my daughter ran to knock on their bedroom door. I got down on my knees and picked Bogie up and I thought, “At least he died eating and we are here with my aunt and uncle and I will deal with this.” I righted Bogie, so that he was still laying down, but sort of on all fours and then, I heard him kind of hack and spit out some kibble. He stood up and bent down to EAT the kibble he had just thrown up and THAT WAS THAT. All this had happened in less than 20 seconds. I thought Bogie was dead and I had been processing how I was going to be able to live with his sudden death – and my aunt rushed into the kitchen, tying her bathrobe around her waist. She was loving and concerned and relieved that this had been just a scare. I was so grateful to have experienced it with my aunt there in the moments afterwards when I could begin to calm down from the adrenaline and to figure out Bogie’s care. Since it was the 4th of July and a U.S. holiday, I knew his vet’s office was closed, so I decided to take him to the emergency vet to check him out. The vet on duty was sympathetic to my concern and didn’t think that Bogie was in any danger, but suggested we see a specialist. I guess it would have been his first visit to a neurologist. I remember watching through the exam room window when they checked Bogie’s reflexes with a tiny little hammer and his little legs – all 4 of them – jerked appropriately. They checked his balance and other things and he patiently tolerated the tests. Bogie didn’t have any more seizures until earlier THIS year when he had about 4 of them within a few weeks. Each one scared the hell out of me, especially the first one in the elevator of our building when he was also VERY VOCAL as he laid on his side and paddled. When I say vocal, I mean LOUD and the sound was like PAIN and DEATH. The only other time I had heard anything close to that sound was when I was in the hospital waiting room with my friend, Jenny, and her husband’s family many many years ago, when the doctor came in to tell her that her husband, Franklin, who was on life support after having had a brain aneurysm, was brain dead. A sound came out of Jenny’s THROAT that was so GUTTERAL, so PRIMAL and AWFUL, so painfully heart-wrenching for Franklin’s mother and father and sisters and brother – and me – to hear that we tried to console her and his family gave Jenny permission to make the decision the doctor was asking her to make about Franklin’s life. Maybe I’ll tell the story in another podcast episode of the days, weeks, and months that followed that God-awful day…and how Jenny is doing now, all these years later. 

For now, back to Bogie and the similar sound that was coming out of him and my adrenaline and the hair standing up on the back of my neck and my arms. We got to our floor and I picked Bogie up off of the ELEVATOR floor – in the middle of his seizure – and set him back down just outside the elevator. Just as fast as the seizure came on, Bogie stood up and began walking – the wrong way – toward our apartment. The seizures that came in the days after that were quick and I could tell something was about to happen each time. He acted more disoriented than usual and threw an arm over his head. AND THEN HE WAS DONE. The neurologist – and yes, for those of you who aren’t nuts about dogs – there ARE veterinary neurologists! – ruled out a brain tumor and put Bogie on a HUMAN anti-seizure med and he has been seizure-free ever since. I am so grateful not to be on edge any more about that. Because of all of Bogie’s UTI’s, we have visited Internal Medicine a couple of times in recent years and they’ve done ultrasounds on him – I always want to say SONOGRAMS because I had them when I was pregnant! – and they have ruled out a tumor, gallstones or kidney stones and they have done a special urine test – where they kept Bogie 2 days in a row to collect enough of his pee, taking him out every hour – to rule out bladder cancer. My goal with Bogie in recent years is to get him to a place where I can breathe and kind of check-off the Bogie box of things I am responsible for. Bogie? Check. He’s good and stable now. Bogie does have doggie dementia – or cognitive dysfunction syndrome, as it’s officially called – and he can get lost behind an OPEN door, literally stand in the small space between the open door and the wall, he can pace and wander around. He doesn’t sleep through the night and he can appear anxious. Every time I take him outside – well, most of the times when I take him outside to do his business and we come back in and I clean him with baby wipes and start to put on his diaper and diaper cover, he starts yelling at me as if it’s time again – for breakfast or dinner. We started him on a supplement a couple weeks ago that’s supposed to help with the dementia, though I don’t see much of a difference yet. I DO appreciate his vet working with us to find a solution. I remember her bringing Bogie back to me in the parking lot and to our car – because of the pandemic, we’re still not able to walk into the vet’s office or exam rooms – and laughed to myself as the vet carried Bogie under her arm instead of in his travel bag I’d sent him inside of with the vet technician. And his diaper was practically on sideways and it and the diaper cover were loose. She said, “I couldn’t get him back into his diaper right or into his bag.” “It’s okay,” I said. “He’s a WIGGLY ONE!” ANd this is my life, about 8 times a day. I WRESTLE Bogie back into his diaper, while he yells at me with excitement for the possibility of a meal – or at least a treat. And usually once every couple of weeks, I manage to get him inside his travel bag to drive him to the vet or to a specialist. And sometimes I’m stressed and overwhelmed and even short-tempered with him. “You yelling at me, Bogie does NOT get me to feed you faster. You yelling at me and trying to jump off of the sofa while I try to put your diaper and diaper cover on doesn’t help me to FEED you faster. You stepping on the back of my slippers and getting right under my feet doesn’t get me to feeding you faster either,” I say out loud to him. He ignores me, of course, and wonders what the fuck is taking this mom-lady so long. When Bogie HAD begun wandering around our apartment aimlessly and standing in my bathroom looking for me on the toilet, while I was actually in the kitchen, or looking for me in the front hallway, while I was in fact in my bathroom, I found it unsettling for ME especially when working from home and needing to focus on projects. I started setting him down in a nylon pet playpen to hopefully take a nap for hours, but the enclosed area – which included a top to it – only seemed to make him want to ESCAPE maybe to take a nap on the floor in my bedroom or to check his food dish in case he happened to miss a meal. He FIRST began to bust out of the FRONT DOOR of the pen, by pawing at it enough that he could actually UNZIP the damn thing. Then, he scratched and scratched the back door until he made a hole and I watched him squeeze his head through and make the hole even bigger to fit his round, large rib cage before his tiny hips and hind legs jumped out. All these escapes were happening while I was on Zoom calls for work and sometimes I had to take myself off camera to jump up and save him from getting stuck in a corner or losing a fight with the legs on our dining room table. The morning a couple of weeks ago when he found a THIRD escape from the nylon playpen, and skillfully and gracefully and – quite frankly, REBELLIOUSLY – and the way a deer might leap over a fence with ease, I looked at the time and my calendar and took advantage of an open window to drive the ½ mile up to our local Petsmart to find a better, INESCAPABLE solution so I could not be stressed about his whereabouts and safety. I stood and looked at the metal pla pens which are meant to be fences to put up in a yard for a contained play space. I picked the smallest one and was still barely able to carry it the short distance to our car after checking out with the cashier. I sat in the driver’s seat and set my intention. That I’d be able to get the heavy box inside from our garage and the long walk down the hallway to our unit. I texted our building maintenance man, Carlos, to see if he was available, then drove home. Three minutes later, when I parked in our garage, I looked in my rear view mirror, and there was Carlos putting some things away in the storage area directly behind our parking spots. Thank you, Lord. Carlos hadn’t even seen my text. “Sure, yes, “l’ll help you, Dee Dee,” and he effortlessly carried the box into the elevator and into our unit. Within 5 minutes, the new pen was set up and scaled down in size to keep the area small. Bogie wouldn’t stay in his bed and was trying to figure out an escape, slipping on the hardwood floor. I ran to Target in search of a small, round rug and found the perfect thing in the bath department – a bath rug. When I got back home, I covered the slippery floor with it and renamed his playpen his “nap room”. My daughter loves calling it his nap room because, she says, “It feels like an actual room with the rug and the taller walls and no top to it. Plus, we can see right into him unlike the nylon playpen where it was hard to see in unless we walked right up to it. I think he doesn’t try to escape as often because he doesn’t seem so closed in.” Bogie does seem WAY more at ease in his nap room and only attempts – gingerly attempts – to escape a couple times a day. He has learned that the metal is impenetrable and spends much more time in there napping than planning escapes. And I spend much less time worrying about him and I am able to focus on my projects. Bogie, check!

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