Charli Mills, Bobo, and “The Poet’s Dog”

Charli Mills over at Carrot Ranch Literary Community posted her new flash fiction challenge.  She always starts with an incredible prologue, a personal writing that paints a deeper picture of the challenge.  I love what she writes. Charli makes me feel ‘there’.

I was drawn to this photo of Bobo.  She was a dog.  She was searching.  I love dogs.

Starting with a story of two owls, Charli wrote:

I remarked how much they reminded me of our two dogs, brother, and sister, and the way they loped together, her with a limp and him with cocky stride, but both in unison the way connected spirits can be. The next day, Grenny fell violently ill and was gone by the second day after the owls visited. Worse, his sister Bobo, not understanding where her brother went, sought him everywhere and stopped eating. She wasn’t well — the vet said her kidneys were failing on top of an old spinal injury that decreased her mobility, sporadic seizures, and a congestive heart. We had been surprised by Grenny’s undetected prostate tumor that shut down his organs because we thought he was the healthy dog of the pair.

Somehow, the two owls made me think that Bobo would soon follow Grenny. She didn’t. She pulled through with her joyful determination.

There has always been something amazing about that dog. She was born the day after Christmas in 2006, into our hands. We all watched the miracle of birth that day, me, my husband and our three kids. She was the runt with the bow-marking on her head. Her brother was the only male and a big brute of a pup. We all fell in love with her that moment and although the Hub intended to keep the male, we all insisted we keep Bo(w)detta Bosephine — Bobo. Yet she enamored him, too. She would become his “snort,” his beloved dog.

No matter what life dished out to her, Bobo overcame with little fuss. At age five, a rough but accidental tumble from two of her pack on a hot summer day left her back legs paralyzed. We did what we could at the time, and our vet said she’d get better or not. We walked the dogs every morning, and she was pined to go. So, we lifted her into the car, propped her up in the back seat, and she learned that rides were much better than walks. Despite the odds, she did get better and walked with the drive of a wounded warrior (she had much in common with the Hub).

When we moved to Idaho, the seizures came next. They remained intermittent enough that we never had to medicate her but they left us all shakey after she’d have one. Her needs challenged both my strengths and my weaknesses. Yet, no matter what, she grabbed life with joy. I wrote about how writers could learn from her joyful determination and I still live by those teachings. She died exactly six years to the date that I wrote that post. Yes, our amazing Bobo, our sweet girl has walked on.

Bobo did not succumb to the call of an owl, but when we rushed her to the vet on Tuesday afternoon, I saw a lone pigeon sitting on the eave of the office, with markings like the ones we helped fledge. Always looking for meaningful connections, it’s part of what drives me as a fiction writer and gives me purpose as a human. Connections make us not feel alone. Our eldest left work and met us at the vet’s office, and our Arctic daughter called us and stayed with us while we sat and cried and told Bobo what a good dog she was. Our son called later that night. The pup that was born into our family’s hands passed in our arms.

In the end, I realized that she was determined to have joy. Another lesson. Joy is something we cultivate, persevere to grab hold of and choose. Not all the time. Not every moment. But we get up and notice the beauty, the preciousness of life, the good that exists, the purpose we can find. I grieve, but I’m determined to keep joy in my life.

That’s about all I can muster for now. What I’d really like is for us to tell stories about the “dog in the daisies.” It’s my absolute favorite photo of Bobo and it captures her essence. She was poised in a field of daisies as if looking right at that joy she chased. Maybe it was deer, but whatever she saw filled her being with mindful purpose. In that moment she was a happy critter in a mountain meadow.

Charli and Bobo

We don’t have our pets for the duration of our lifetimes, but we are better off for the time we do have them. I am content that a dog named Bodetta Bosephine had me from her first until her last breath. One day, I’ll hear a hoot owl calling for me, and on Wildfire I’m going to ride, Bobo greeting me with a woof — there you are!

Bobo was determined, overcame her obstacles with little fuss, and found joy in her life.

I want to be Bobo.

Dogs are our constant companions.  They love us no matter what, and so do we in return.  When they shine through thick and thin, like Bobo, it adds pride and a fierce sense of loyalty to our feelings.  Dogs must feel the same way.  Charli’s words describe that beautifully.

When I read Charli’s post, I immediately thought of Teddy, the dog in The Poet’s Dog.  Of course!  Teddy and Bobo were cut from the same cloth.  I wanted Charli to know Teddy.  Perhaps that would bring her some comfort.  Well, she knew Teddy.  Better yet, Charli read The Poet’s Dog aloud to Bobo just before she died.  She sent me this photo:

I know Bobo heard the words.  Dogs know these things.  I know she loved Teddy, and Sylvan.  What a gift to Bobo.  Thank you, Charli.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in behavior, books, children's books, Death and dying, Dogs, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration, joy, Kindness, Particia MacLachlan, self esteem, wonder and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

89 Responses to Charli Mills, Bobo, and “The Poet’s Dog”

  1. beetleypete says:

    Well you know how much I love my dog, so I loved to read the story of Bobo.
    I also bought that book for our grandson,, based on your recommendation.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Jane Sturgeon says:

    ❤ I love this post and Charli's story of Bobo. ❤ for Bobo, Grenny, Teddy, Sylvan, Charli and you, Jennie. Xx

  3. Ritu says:

    Charli’s story is beautiful!

  4. quiall says:

    That was difficult to read through my tears as this is difficult to write. I believe that the animals I have shared my life with have made me a better person just by being with them. I loved them, I lost them, I miss them.

  5. Darlene says:

    Crying here. I love that Charlie read The Poet´s Dog to Bobo. I so love that story and gave it to my granddaughter. Dogs are such a blessing. Now I am going to hug Dot. xo

  6. Dan Antion says:

    This is a beautiful story, Jennie. Dogs are just the best.

  7. “dog in the daisies” very cool. very sweet. very inspirational.

  8. L. Marie says:

    What a poignant story!
    Patricia MacLachlan’s books are always great. Loved Sarah, Plain and Tall. I need to read The Poet’s Dog.

  9. A really moving story, Jennie. We inherited our Maltese Terrier from our granddaughter who named her “Princess Cinderella”. This dog has lit up our lives and is truly our princess. We are lucky to have her!

    • Jennie says:

      Dogs bring us joy and enrich our lives. They make us better people. I’m so glad you have Princess Cinderella. We had Harry. ❤️ Thank you, John. Charli’s story was deeply moving.

  10. This is wonderful in so many different ways.

  11. A beautiful post, Jennie, and a tear-jerker. A lovely tribute to Bobo, and my heart goes out to Charli.

  12. Charli Mills says:

    Jennie, all the dogs we have loved before rejoice when we can share their preciousness with others. Thank you for making the beautiful connection to The Poet’s Dog, and for sharing Bobo’s joyful determination. Thank you for all the kind comments, and for the willingness to share the love and pain of dog-loss.

    • Jennie says:

      It was a pleasure, Charli. Sharing Bobo, and you, and The Poets’s Dog brings everything full circle. Dogs give us everything, and we don’t always shout it out. You did, and that in itself is wonderful. Our Harry and Bobo would have been BFFs. I wish The Poet’s Dog had been written when Harry died. I would have read it aloud to him. You were the best mother ever to Bobo. Thank you for sharing his joyful and determined life. He is an inspiration. 🙂

  13. What a beautiful story, Jennie. It brought back memories of all those beautiful dogs and cats who have made out lives richer. Yes, we miss them but do our best to give those still with us unrestricted love.

  14. I am glad Bobo heard that story, The Poet’s Dog, such a great book. This was a lovely sharing of Bobo and Charli’s story. I love the second photo too, it captures the love and joy they shared.

  15. Oh, what a heartwarming post. I had read Charli’s post about Bobo and so appreciated your recognizing it. But then to learn the connection to The Poet’s Dog was just incredible! Rest in peace, Bobo.

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    Thank you for the beautiful post, Jennie. My two yellow labs are by my feet right now; they are my constant companions and friends. Perhaps you should think about providing the links for when you read this story aloud only a few months ago.

    I’m glad that you saw Pete’s story, too. You have touched a lot of us besides your students.

    • Jennie says:

      Pete, that’s a good idea, but I don’t know how to do that. And the Happiness Engineers aren’t responding when I ask. Give those yellow labs a big hug for me. I dearly miss our labs. They give us so much, don’t they? Many thanks!

  17. Wonderful post and a lovely tribute to Bobo… Thanks so much for sharing, Jenny.

  18. I can’t finish reading it. It’s too soon to read someone’s story about the loss of their beloved dog. It’s just been 14 months since we lost Diva-Dog. She was my first dog ever and the best dog in the world…yeah, I know, everyone says that about their dog.
    I’m still grieving and can’t read other stories just yet. Can I be honest? I never ever got it…the connection between human and dog before Diva-Dog. I get it now. It’s like losing a child, for me anyway it is. Nearly 15 years she was with us, and I trained her and went to obedience classes with her for three years-every week. Being honest…she trained me! I’m not over it. I’ll come back to this post later Jennie. I will later once I’m past this and probably have another dog. Which I will get in another year or so. I’m not ready yet.

    • Jennie says:

      I completely understand, Deborah! I’ve been there. When you do read it, the story isn’t sad as much as it is heartwarming. The fact that Charli read aloud “The Poet’s Dog” to Bobo before she died is just incredible. I never read aloud to our labs and wish I had. Best to you, my friend. ❤️

  19. Pingback: Dog in the Daisies « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  20. This is so lovely. I’ve had one dog and two cats all have since passed over to their daisy filled afterlife like Bobo. It is true that animals enrich our lives. I remember them all fondly especially Topsy my dog and Chester my ginger tom cat both of which I’d had from pup/kitten.

    • Jennie says:

      I was over the moon when I read Charli’s story. And when I discovered she had read the book aloud to Bobo, I was filled with every memory of all our dogs- from funny to sad and in between. Pets give us so much. I’m glad you were reminded of Topsy and Chester. Thank you, Marje. 🙂

  21. Oh gosh, what a touching story. I honestly had to cry my way through it because I love dogs (and cats and other animals) so much. I imagine that children would have the same sort of responses, for their little hearts are so huge! Dear little souls, but I think it is a beautiful way to learn about life and death too, and to help them understand that sometimes, even when we love a pet or a person so much, we cannot keep them with us forever. I often tell Richard, my hubster, that if Little Man, a little dog we rescues a year ago in January, and who is mostly deaf and going blind and is about 110 years old, must somehow go with us even if he passes. I told Richard that we must have him cremated so that he can stay with our family since it is most likely the only time he has had family who loves him so much. He is part of our animal family too and they all sleep with us, eat when we do, and they all do everything together, helping each other. It is such a wonderful thing to see.

  22. Betty Chavis says:

    I was moved to tears… beautifully written and so on point referring to the bond between our 4 legged babies and ourselves..Thank you Charli….

  23. I also read this lovely post of Charli’s Jennie. Thank you for adding your own delightful thoughts.

  24. Opher says:

    I just love dogs!

  25. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing, Jennie! Our fourleggers are sorry for a loss too, an need a lot of time to overcome. Michael

  26. It is so healthy and good for children to have pets and learn to take care of and wonder at the amazing things creatures of all kinds do. We used to have caterpillars with plants in a big open container that the children could view each day in class. How they marveled when the caterpillar became a cocoon, and then how they all thrilled to see the butterfly emerging from the butterfly. I too was thrilled to get to see the process. Life never ceases to amaze us all, does it?

  27. Pingback: Saddle Up Saloon; Story Time! « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

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