And Then There Was Bizou
For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember Maud. Maud was our beloved bluetick hound dog, who became ill in July 2015 due to an autoimmune disorder. I wrote a number of posts about her illness as well as her progress, and finally her passing on April 8, 2016. It was a joy to know Maud. She was such a gentle, intelligent, and beautiful animal with quite a personality. Maud had a strong spirit and a trademark howl that warmed our hearts. We loved her enormously, and when she was gone, well…the silence was deafening.
When the time arrived, our friend and veterinarian came to our home to help Maud pass peacefully. She was lying on a blanket in the sunroom, and after she finally slipped away, I remember the room feeling so small. My sweet, howling Maud was gone forever. My mind kept wanting to rewind, to look into her eyes one more time, to snuggle beside of her again, and to tell her how much I loved her.
Dr. Colin Murray Parkes writes in his book, Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” I’ve lost pets over the years, but this time seemed different–probably because of Maud’s lingering illness, how hard we tried to save her, and the bond that was created during this period. I knew I would be sad for a while, but I was surprised how deeply Maud’s death affected me. When I think of what she endured, her joyful spirit in spite of it all, and those droopy, brown eyes looking to me to make it better….well, it still pains me. I loved Maud dearly, and will always treasure my time with her.
Although I missed Maud greatly, I didn’t want to adopt another dog right away. Farmguy and I felt that we needed time. Over the summer and fall months, pictures of bluetick hound mixes periodically showed-up in my Facebook feed from an animal shelter or humane society website, and at some point, Farmguy and I decided to go visit some of these dogs. Leroy was the first coonhound we visited. He was young and about the size of a horse. All I remember is he seemed to have springs on his feet, and he drooled A LOT. Leroy was definitely a high energy dog with plenty of saliva. By the time we left the shelter, I had dog spit all over the lenses of my glasses. Although Leroy was charming, we were informed that someone had already placed an application to adopt him. Then, a while later, there was Blue Sam, an older hunting dog who was sweet but not very social. I think he was somewhat neglected, having been an outside dog for most of his life. Both of these animals would have made wonderful pets for someone; however, neither were the right fit for our family. So, we decided to keep looking. About a month or two later, there were eight bluetick/ basset hound mix puppies that needed foster care. I immediately submitted an application, but to my great disappointment, I later learned they had all been placed. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I would find the right dog at the right time.
One day as I was looking at my Facebook feed, I noticed a post by a friend who volunteers at the same animal shelter where we adopted Dash—Campbell County Animal Shelter. The post showed a 7-month-old Australian cattle dog/ bluetick hound puppy mix that had JUST been surrendered. When I saw his little face, I knew he was the one. I also realized he had probably been born about a month after Maud passed. I quickly messengered my friend, Ralph and asked if we could visit the puppy that afternoon. He said we could, and then, I had to make the case to Farmguy. We were about two hours out of town for the weekend and had already planned our day. Needless to say, Farmguy wasn’t thrilled about skipping brunch, driving two hours home to drop off Dash and Clemmie Cat, and then driving another hour to visit an animal shelter on a Sunday afternoon. But, thankfully, he agreed.
Farmguy and I met Bizou late Sunday afternoon and fell in love with him. We decided to foster to adopt, and on Monday morning, dear Ralph and Bizou met me at our veterinarian’s office. Bizou has been a part of our family since December 12th, and I can’t imagine life without him. Not only does he have a lovely temperament, he’s intelligent, sweet, and a total cuddle bug. He has no sense of personal space. Our space is Bizou’s space! And, we love it.
Here’s the thing:
When Maud came into our lives over a decade ago, I didn’t know anything about bluetick hound dogs. If it weren’t for Maud and knowing her beautiful and joyful spirit, I may never have realized that these animals are such wonderful companions. Although our Bizou doesn’t have a melodic howl like Maud, he does have her sweet disposition, loving eyes, and slow-lick kiss. At the time, I was disappointed with the outcome of my efforts to adopt the other bluetick hound mixes. But, I now realize, Providence knows best. Maud may not be with us physically, but her gentle spirit and legacy lives on….in Bizou, in every other bluetick hound dog languishing in an animal shelter or humane society, and most importantly……in my heart.