My dog Bodhi died one year ago on January 3, 2017. Here's a tribute I wrote shortly after he passed.
We rescued Bodhi the week after I was released from a 72-hour hold in a psychiatric hospital.
Initially given up by a family during the recession, he was picked up from a high-kill shelter with one hour to spare by a Labrador rescue group. At around 2 years old, he was abandoned, put in foster care, severely underweight and suffering from kennel cough.
I remember my mom picking me up in my school counselor’s office after yet another panic attack. I was sweaty and disoriented; she attempted to distract me with happy news. “We’re making a stop on the way home,” she told me. “We’re meeting a black Lab named Bodhi.”
Bodhi and I didn’t get along his first week at home. Still feeling down, I’d lie in bed, listening to his paws tap tap tap on the hardwood floor as he walked into my room. He’d shove his wet nose into my face, snot dribbling out his nostrils. I’d push him away, wanting solitude in my selfish depression bubble, and he'd retaliate by sneezing dog boogers all over the hardwood floor. Irritability got the best of me, and I cursed him while cleaning up the mess. He came right up to me, licked face and locked his eyes with mine. This dog understood pain.
Anyone who met Bodhi would testify that staring into his eyes helped you understand the depths of the universe. I remember throwing parties during high school when my parents were out of town, sitting stoned on my couch, my friends giggling about the emotional connection they had just shared with Bodhi. I could spend hours cradling his head in my hands, nose to snout, in a staring contest. He was grateful for the simplest things; all he needed was a roof over his head and a human to hold his paw.
While away at college, I ranked the order I missed my family:
Number 1: Bodhi, Number 2: My dad & mom. And my parents understood. He was their favorite family member too.
Even though our journey on this Earth together has come to a close, Bodhi’s spirit continues to inspire me. We met in September 2009 with both of us quite damaged, but he helped me understand companionship and compassion. Everyone who met him loved him. Strangers on the strand would call him handsome. His smile illuminated my soul.
I get it. Everyone thinks their dog was the best. Everyone has an emotional bond with their pet. But Bodhi's ability to understand me was unique. I’ll never be able to thank him for helping me through emotional trauma. With just a look, he could convey so much depth, gratitude, and understanding. Words aren’t adequate to explain how much gravity Bodhi’s presence held, but I think his best friend, my dad, said it best; “When I grow up, I want to be like Bodhi.”