My mom called earlier this morning to let me know that they euthanized Bijou, our family’s first dog. She was 84 years old.
Bijou’s existence in our family always seemed like a nearly impossible anomaly. The only thing standing between my mother and full-blown OCD is a diagnosis. She is the kind of person who believes that there is a place for everything and everything belongs in its place. And also that all these places are sanitized. The idea that she would want a dog – an inside-the-house – dog seemed ridiculous. Then again, perhaps my mom’s imagination ran wild thinking about how filthy an outside-the-house dog might be. Something had to give, I guess. Well, not only did she and my dad get a dog, they picked out a cute puppy that would grow into an 80-pound monster.
Bijou did not become a member of our family until after I graduated college. When I returned to live in Aiea, Matty was in Portland, and Paul was a junior at Damien. I had to get used to living with a new roommate. Bijou was cute, uncoordinated, peppy, and had an uncanny knack for gooing up my pants with her slobber right before I was to leave the house. I laugh when I think back to Lynnette saying “No, Bijou” as the dog approached Lynnette in her night club best. Lynnette climbed the couch on more than one occasion to evade Bijou’s kiss which would always leave the mark of the beast. It took Bijou over a decade to greet my best friends without barking. I have always believed I was Bijou’s favorite brother because I always greeted her with a jingle (as written in the caption for this picture); half-wrote a musical starring her and featuring a chorus of crayfish (Bijou doesn’t want to talk to anyone, anyone – because Bijou’s mad at everyone, everyone!); and fed her Pop-Tarts, then pretended she took them out of my hand so that I wouldn’t get in trouble with my parents. #RelationshipGoals and all that.
I would like to honor Bijou by recalling a few of my favorite stories. There are many – including this one – but I’ll keep it brief.
*Bijou was always my dad’s shadow. Probably something about dogs gravitating toward the pack leader. Anyway, she was able to hear the growling and rattling of my dad’s old truck coming home long before the rest of us could. She would get up from wherever she was in the house and move toward the window. A few seconds later, my dad would pull up. One day I took my dad’s truck to work at summer fun. When I got home, Bijou was already in the garage, tethered to the wall. When I came into view, she was standing there, then tilted her head to look around me. When she realized my dad wasn’t with me, she turned around and dropped herself onto her mat without saying hello. So D’s, B.
*When she was a puppy, she could fit under the seats in the kitchen and the futon/couch. Whenever a tennis ball rolled under the futon, she darted beneath it to retrieve it. Until that one time she cracked her forehead on the bottom beam because she didn’t realize she was on her way to growing into an 80-pound monster. She never attempted it again; she was a quick study.
*My dad, Matty, and I were cruising with Bijou in the garage when a stray dog pranced into the garage. It happened too fast for us to do anything and quickly the dogs were eye to eye. Silence. Then both dogs attacked each other. It was vicious. My dad pulled at Bijou, I pulled at the other dog, and Matty kicked the other dog to separate them. The dog ran out of our garage. Bijou was bloodied, but the blood was not hers. Then, she did the oddest thing. Instead of continuing to rage, she looked at the three of us, sighed, then flopped back down on her mat. My father was more shaken up than B was. I will always believe she was protecting us.
Though we usually have lunch at my parents’ house on Sundays, we could not make it this past weekend. Instead, we dropped by Friday night, just to say hello. Obviously, it would be the last time we’d see her. I don’t know why I took pictures of her, but I am glad I did. My only regret is that Madison never got big enough to get close to Bijou without getting launched under a car. Even at the end, with her physical skills diminished, Bijou still made an attempt at accosting Mad on Friday night. Clown.
I don’t pretend to know what happens to humans when we die, let alone dogs. I like to think Bijou is resting in a wide open field where shade is readily available for her to rest in. I hope that once in a while, other dogs walk past her so she can bark at them until they travel out of sight. It is my wish that there are endless dishes of red meat, pop tarts, and shredded cheese.
You were a great dog, Bijou. I love you and I will miss you.