“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog” – President Harry Truman
For thirteen years, I had a best friend named Bogart.
We adopted Bogart from the Humane Society when he was approximately three years old. He was an Akita/Border Collie mix.
He had the intelligence of a Border Collie. He would pick the locks of dog cages, first at home and then at the dog groomers. He once figured out that if he pulled on the living room curtain that it would give him enough leverage to bend the top of the metal dog crate door just enough for him to squeeze through. Freed of the dog crate, he pulled on an electrical cord going from the living room to a refrigerator in a three seasons room to pop the lock on the patio door. In the three seasons room he jumped through the screen to the backyard, just so he could greet us at the front door. (Next time you see a bumper sticker that says, “My Border Collie is smarter than your honor student,” they don’t mean it as an insult.)
At the dog groomers, the boy would pop the lock on the dog crate and then leap the four-foot Dutch door at the front counter to greet new visitors. They eventually had to get a special crate.
He had the size and the sweet disposition of an Akita. Of course, Bogart never thought he was that big. He always thought he was only five pounds. His awareness of his size was only evident when he was around other dogs. When it came to other dogs, Bogart was boss.
He had a wicked sense of humor. For a while we lived next door to a Labrador Retriever named Simon. Bogart liked to build up some speed and throw his shoulder into Simon just to see how far Simon would roll in the snow. Bogart thought it was great sport. He liked to give our Siberian Husky, Ingrid, face washes in the snow.
One time Bogart and Ingrid were playing in the fenced-in backyard and Ingrid was buzzing by him and barking. Bogart’s herding instinct kicked in and he slowly moved towards the corner of the yard, letting Ingrid run back and forth past him. Suddenly Ingrid ran past him only to find herself in the corner with no way past Bogart. I swear there was a dramatic pause and a smile from Bogart right before he charged the cornered Ingrid and hockey checked her into the fence.
Our neighborhood knew him as the dog that liked to hide in the tree line in our yard, waiting to jump out to surprise unsuspecting pedestrians walking along the sidewalk. He was also the dog that many in our neighborhood would reach past the “beware of dog” sign to pet because he was so friendly after he scared someone.
He was smart, strong, and sometimes too athletic for his own good. Bogart and I were visiting my parents our first winter together. He was very well trained so I made the mistake of thinking this meant the dog could be off-leash. My parents live along the Little Menomonee River Parkway, and quite often they have visits from deer. Bogart spotted a deer and began to chase. The deer hopped a five-foot brush pile to get away. I can’t imagine what the deer thought when Bogart, with a full head of steam, made the same jump.
I know what I thought. “Oh, no.”
Fortunately there was a fresh snowfall that morning so I was able to track the dog into the woods. When I caught up to him, he looked up at me to say, “Well, we’re lost. How do we get back?”
He loved chasing small animals, loved his food dish, and loved his favorite chair. Most of all, he loved to be loved. He thought every visitor to our home came to see him (he was often right) and he greeted them all enthusiastically.
At sixteen years old, his legs just gave out. However, his heart was strong until the end. He passed away this morning, and our hearts our broken.
“I shall not look upon his like again.”