The second dog who changed my life was Bou Bou. Laugh at her name if you want... I know it sounds funny. :) Her real name was Queen Silvia's Marabou Chocolate. When we got Spot, it wasn't long before my parents decided that he needed a friend.
One day my dad told me we were going to the library and loaded my brother and I into the car. Mind you, the library is about five minutes away from our house. After about half an hour of driving, and me continually telling my dad he had gone the wrong way, he relented and admitted that we were lost. He pulled up to a house and told us that he would be right back because he was going inside to ask for directions. I remember thinking, "He's doing what?" My dad had never asked for directions, let alone stopped at a random persons house to do so. And since when did we get lost on the way to the library?
A few minutes later, my dad walked outside holding something in his arms. He opened the van door as I gasped!!! It was a small chocolate puppy. That moment is one of the most vivid of my entire childhood. He handed her to me gently and she snuggled into my lap. My little brother nagged and nagged me to hand her over, and when I finally did, she promptly peed all over him. He almost threw her back at me and I knew I was in love (with her face, not that peeing on my brother hurt either). That chocolate baby was mine.
Over the years, Bou Bou amazed me. She was a best friend to Spot and ever more patient than he was. She was wildly in love with babies and children. I can recall one memory when we were having a pool party with another family. I was in the pool with my siblings and their kids. All four adults (my parents and the other couple) were talking, having left their sleeping baby in its car seat by the gate. I heard the baby begin to scream hysterically, but apparently, the children in the pool were screaming louder so the adults didn't notice. I couldn't pick the baby up, being soaking wet. I looked around helplessly for a few moments, when the crying stopped as suddenly as it had begun. I turned to see what had happened and there was Bou Bou with her nose sticking through the fence just far enough for her to rock the baby's car seat and lull it back to sleep. I have never seen anything like it in my life.
Another vivid memory I have of Bou Bou was one that changed me forever. Literally. I came home from the store with my mom and she told me to go play. I took a popsicle out into the backyard with me to go play with Bou Bou. As I walked out the door and braced myself to be licked up and down, I noticed that no giant chocolate dog had yet drenched me in slobber. I immediately grew concerned. I ran around the backyard looking for her. Finally I saw her on the side of the house. She had dug a small hole in the dirt shallow enough to lay down in. She was breathing heavily and whining. I dropped my popsicle immediately. She was in labor.
I sat there, a young girl, and helped deliver her whole litter of puppies... Thirteen puppies. I cried with joy at this incredible sight. I stroked her head and told her that she was doing a good job. And for the first time in my life, I physically saw the glory and strength of a mother bringing her children into this world. I knew that this would be one of the greatest moments of my life someday. Bou Bou was the best mother I have ever seen in an animal.
Sometimes I thought she may have mistaken me for one of her puppies. When I was in high school, my parents decided that our backyard was no longer big enough for two labs and gave them to my grandparents who live in Sierra Vista. Needless to say, I didn't speak to them for a while, but I know my dogs did truly enjoy the vast backyard that they moved to. Spot passed away a few short months after the move from some sort of bite. When this happened Bou Bou acted even more attached each time I visited. I would sleep outside in the hammock and she would nestle herself just beneath me all night long. Up until the day she died, she knew who I was, knew my voice, and showed me all the love any person could ever ask for.
My grandparents moved up to Phoenix when I graduated high school, and once again, I was able to see my Bou Bou much more often. Then during my freshman year, a few days after Christmas, I got a call from my dad that I had hoped would never come. Bou Bou's stomach tumor had grown to the point that she could no longer eat or even get up. I needed to get to the animal hospital immediately.
When I arrived, it was quite like that awful chapter from Marley and Me. Bou Bou hated the car and was already terrified at being put in the back of my Grandpa's van. I practically lept into the van and gently scooped her up in my arms. I can explain what it's like to hold someone you love so much and watch them leave this life. I felt her breathing slow as she calmed herself in my arms. She watched my face to see if everything was going to be alright. And then she left me.
I loved my dogs. They jumped on me, slobbered everywhere, ate my Barbies, howled at every ambulance and police car, and pooped an awful lot. But if you asked me who my best friends were growing up, my answer is undoubtedly, "Spot and Bou Bou." Their imperfect, fearless, and crazy joy at every turn of life taught me so very much.
I would not be who I am without them. When Bou Bou died, I promised myself that one day, I would get dogs to raise with my children, so that they could learn the lessons that my dogs had taught me... Bou Bou traded her thin, lean body for three litters of puppies. She loved them all. She traded her dark chocolate fur for the years to love me longer. She gave me everything.