A Final Thought: Bogart Was A Good Dog


By Mitch Allen

For many years we’ve had a dog named Bogart and a cat named Bacall. If you are of a certain age, I need not explain these names to you. The cat is benign, one of a rescue litter my wife and daughter bottle fed several times a day for four weeks after the mother was killed.

I don’t see Bacall often. She is largely invisible. Friends have accused us of making her up, until she lets out a loud “reeee-owww!” that echoes throughout the house, or collapses on your pillow and purrs like a 3.5-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine.

Bogart, on the other hand, is not invisible. I’m sorry, he was not invisible. He left us on July 5 and I still confuse the past and present. He barked constantly at serial killers ever present on our sidewalk. He whined to be fed every morning at 4:33 on the dot, regardless of the time we went to bed, more accurate than the Atomic Clock.

As a result, for these past few years, my wife and I would head to bed after Jeopardy! in an effort to get our eight hours in before Bogart’s inevitable toenails-tapping-on-the-hardwood-floor pacing would begin long before sunup.

A few days before Bogart died, I let him outside and there were still fireflies. I thought Ohio lightening bugs went to bed when I did. I had no idea they kept the light show going until 4:00 in the morning.

At age 19, I spent a month in West Berlin, Germany, where we watched the sunrise every morning at 4:00 on the steps of the Reichstag, sometimes sneaking into the hedges to chisel out pieces of the Berlin Wall under the noses of East German guards.

It’s not the same.

I once listened to a podcast about the beauty and quiet of 4 o’clock in the morning—that sliver of time between when the bar crowd has finally gone to bed and first-shift workers are just beginning to stir. Bogart knew this quiet intuitively. And despite my protests, he wanted me to experience it, too. Together we would sit outside in the pre-dawn dark and listen to the silence until the songbirds began to sing.

I am not a dog person, whatever that means. I see videos of soldiers returning from active duty. They drop to one knee and their dog jumps all over them barking and licking with incredible excitement. In my case, I know if you or the mail carrier or the person who comes to read the electric meter were to drop to one knee, Bogart would do the same thing. We want to think our dogs love us, but it’s more likely we love our dogs. Bogart loved everybody.

My wife and I wept deeply when Bogart died, when the Akron veterinarian gave him the first injection to relax him completely, followed by the colorful injection she would describe only as, “the last one.”

His relaxation, his surrender, his peaceful escape from the constant pain and dizziness was in a strange way lovely and sweet. I could hear him saying, “What took you so long?”

Bogart peed in our house…a lot. I have friends who say their dog never does that, so either these friends are lying or my wife and I are poor disciplinarians. In the 1960s, dogs slept outside in a doghouse. In the ’70s they came inside. In the ’80s they came into the bedroom. In the ’90s they got on the bed. In the 2000s they got on the pillow.

In just 40 years we went from Charlie Brown’s Snoopy sleeping on top of a doghouse (and fighting the Red Baron) to snuggling us on our own pillows. Maybe soon we’ll have them sitting on the toilet.

In spite of frequently marking his territory on our hardwood floors, Bogart was “a good boy,” a farm mutt rescued from an Athens, Ohio, pound when my OU-attending daughter volunteered there, the same daughter who usurped my June column for Father’s Day.

“Just keep him for a few weeks,” she said. “I’ll take him back after graduation.”

We all know how that ends.

We enjoyed our life with Bogart for almost 16 years, about the same length of time it takes to raise a human child.

One day the police knocked on our front door to tell us a neighbor had complained about our dog barking. I had gotten distracted and left Bogart outside. The next day I asked my neighbor—an 80-year-old widower who moved into assisted living soon after—why he had not called me instead of the cops. He replied, “I didn’t want to bother you.”

Sometimes humans bark louder than dogs.

Bogart was a good dog.


Categories: Smart Living