A week ago we said good-by to our friend Lunchbox. The timing was unexpected – we had purchased him a brand-new, Costco-sized dog bed the day before! – but the moment had been coming.
For months, years really, he’d had “episodes”. These were all-night, walk-the-yard, assess breathing and stature endeavors that sent us to the emergency vet more than once. Generally, they were associated with a bulldog misadventure – he ate the remains of a rotisserie chicken, he developed a golfball-sized hairball (true story), etc.
As the stay-at-home order for the pandemic set in though we were a four-person witness to Lunchbox. His every breathe, wander, and (loud) snore were analyzed. At the beginning of the three-month stay he had a seizure on our deck. His blood work was fine and it was only once; he recovered. But then it happened again – not a full-blown grand mal – but a lost-in-space quality that resulted in the loss of body function. Again, he recovered.
Every night at 8:00 on the dot – while we were still wrestling the children into bed – Lunchbox would say good-night and wander to our bedroom. ‘Aww, he’s tired of us’, we thought. But no, he was just tired.
If you know the history of Lunchbox, you know he was incredibly lovable and rather difficult. Deaf since birth, the whole world was always sneaking up on him. We severely underestimated the impact Lunchbox’s deafness would have on his, and our, life. His deafness was not insurmountable by any means – we taught him some hand signals and learned to navigate his space respectfully – but it was a defining characteristic of his early years. When we moved into a new house several years ago – out of a townhome with a shared background – he relaxed into a private backyard with as much relish as the children (once he figured out what fences were, doh).
I believe his last three years were peaceful – minus the episodes. He was no longer walking well and we decided not to put him under undue stress as much as possible. When we learned his lungs were filled with fluid and emergency measures failed we decided to say good-bye. When the end was near a tiny robin landed on my husband’s shoulder. If you want a sign from the universe about the right course of action (and, man, I desperately wanted that sign) this was it.
Well, you say, this is a funny way to honor your beloved pet. And you’re right, but Lunchbox was the highs and the lows and I wanted to honor his whole being (and give an honest look at bulldog life). He was a fierce pack animal – and we were his pack. He was surprisingly good with the children, and, wow, did he keep the floors clean of snacks. I’ve swept more in the last week than I have in the last 9+ years. I still feel his presence in our house – and in our lives – acutely. I hope that alleviates a little bit, but not completely.
For 14+ years (first Sherbert, then both, then Lunchbox), I’ve been a bulldog person – an identity I’ve cherished and embodied. The community of bulldog people we’ve met on this blog and on social has blown me away, so thank you. Thank you for loving Lunchbox and Sherbert. Thank you for sharing your bulldogs with us. Maybe we’ll get another bulldog down the road, and maybe we won’t. But I’ll always be a bulldog person.