It was a pleasant day in November 1996; my wife was on the phone. She sounded excited. Her parents had just brought home a pup. Would I like to come over and see her? I left the office a little early and headed to see the pup.
There she was, a bundle of fur, cuddled in my wife’s arms, peering cautiously at me. She was of the German shepherd – Alsatian breed. I reached out and scratched her head and ears. She licked my hand. The rapport was instant. I christened her Bonita; which in later days was modified to Bonnie.
She was a constant companion to my wife’s parents who reveled in her company. She was an extension of the family; present at all family get together and meetings. I was her masseur. She loved her head being massaged and scratched. It was one of the rituals that she did not miss. My reward was a warm lick on my hand.
Dogs can teach you a lot. And so it was with Bonnie. She taught us:
- When loved ones come home, Always run to greet them.
- When it's in your best interests, practice obedience.
- Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
- Take naps and stretch before rising.
- Run, romp, and play daily.
- Eat with gusto and enthusiasm
- Be loyal
- Never pretend to be something you're not.
- If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
- When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
- Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
- Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
- On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under some shade.
- When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
- Delight in the simple joy of a long walk
- No matter how often you're scolded don't buy into the guilt thing and pout …. run right back and make friends.
Then in the November of 2006, tragedy struck. Ten years to the day that she had invaded our world, my father-in-law succumbed to a massive heart attack. He collapsed in the garden right in front of Bonnie. From that day onwards she wasn’t her self. We could sense that she was grieving. Age too was catching up with her. Her movements had slowed down and her liver was acting up. Frequently she would be listless. The vet wasn’t too optimistic and her condition slowly but surely deteriorated. Patiently but knowingly she bore the anxious ministrations of my mother-in-law. Finally, on Saturday, July 28th, she could not stand up anymore. Her condition worsened through the day. She knew that her time had come, to leave those she loved. She made her last heroic efforts at trying to stand up, once when my wife entered the gate around noon and once more when I entered a few hours later. It was as if she was waiting to say her last goodbye. Around 5.15p.m. that same evening with my mother-in-law and wife beside her, with one last sigh, she was gone.
She is buried in a corner of the garden under the shade of a tree, which constantly blooms and sheds little pink flowers.
She must be in a happier place as I write this post.