On this cold New Year's Day with new snow all around us, Tesla's Love offers this story to warm your heart. Happy 2009.
By Mark Brackenbury
Bo was an outgoing, amiable sort, always there with a friendly head butt.
But he had his quirks.
He loved eating chicken and cold cuts on the counter in the kitchen, drinking from the faucet on the bathroom sink, sunbathing, and claiming the softest chair in whatever room his family was in. If he could have told the difference between a weekday and the weekend, he would have made a fine alarm clock: he woke us at 5:30 every morning, almost to the minute.
Bo was a polite little man, chirping what seemed like a thank you whenever we opened the door to let him inside. And despite claws that looked rather menacing when he opened his paws and stretched, he never once scratched anyone. Not that he didn’t use the claws to his advantage. When we weren’t paying sufficient attention to him, he would reach out and give a little tap on our face or arm, extending just enough claw to make his presence felt in no uncertain terms. He was death on sweaters.
In his younger days he loved walks with our golden retriever, Brandy. He scooted along behind us, his feet working furiously to keep up and his black tail straight in the air. In later years, after Brandy was gone, Bo would make the long walk down the driveway with me to get the paper, dawdling behind out near the road but then racing back to the front steps to wait on me. He also enjoyed racing up and down the hallway, sounding like a herd of horses, before stopping himself by sliding on the carpet runner.
He was less enthused about eating on the floor, drinking from a bowl, being cooped up inside and being alone. But the two things he hated most, cold weather and riding in cars, sometimes forced him to compromise. Particularly in his old age, Bo was something of a weather wimp, poking his nose into the outside air and quickly turning and scampering inside if he felt the slightest chill. Riding in cars was a major trauma - for Bo and us - because he always got sick within a few minutes.
Maybe his fear of travel had to do with how he came to us, which always remained a mystery. In the fall of 1990, Bo arrived along with a new refrigerator. As I opened the door for the deliverymen, there was Bo yelling at me from a big rock across the front yard. He seemed well groomed, friendly and unafraid, so he must have had a home somewhere. But despite our advertising and calls to the delivery company, no one ever came forward, and Bo was ours. The vet guessed Bo was about 7 months old.
He almost didn't make it much further.
The next spring, one of our teen girls was home alone after school and decided to do some laundry. As she opened the dryer for a moment to check on some clothes that weren't quite ready, the phone rang. She slammed the door, turned the dryer back on, and ran to answer the call. When she returned to check on the clothes 15 minutes or so later, Bo staggered out, dazed and bleeding from the mouth.
The vet said the prognosis was grim, that the key would be whether he could eat, which seemed a longshot given that his mouth was burned. This was on Good Friday. Saturday, we were losing hope because the vet said he showed no interest in food. Well, a quick trip to the supermarket for some sliced turkey changed everything.
By Sunday - Easter - Bo was back home.
We are not particularly religious, but wow, what irony. Other than a little droop on one side of his mouth, Bo was none the worse for wear. But he never – ever – hopped in the dryer again.
Bo lived to be 18, dying essentially of old age this spring. Of course, he had slowed down a bit in his later years. His attempts to jump onto the counter started coming up a bit short (he seemed embarrassed), and occasional hair loss because of a skin condition made him look a bit rickety at times.
But in other ways he never changed. He still woke us up at 5:30 each day, ate his sliced turkey or roast beef, and followed us from room to room. And he still stood at the top of the stairs yelling at us as we came home at the end of the day, annoyed that we were gone so long but happy to see us.
A cool cat, as always.
Tesla’s Love is the blog for and about people who love animals. No one here cares whether it walks, crawls, swims, slithers, hobbles or knows how to fly, if there is a story about an animal that you love or loves you, this is the place to share that story. The story can be a tribute, a love story or a memorial. It can be about you, this truly is a site for people. Send your story and photos to email@example.com and we promise to post it here.