Life Lessons from the Dog

I am sorry (yet again) for such a long absence! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that we have gone through quite a few changes recently (new house, new job being some of the big ones)!

Boca chasing the Ball in one of her last days on her feet

Boca chasing the Ball in one of her last days on her feet

Sunday night September 7, 2014 Boca refused food and was just laying around way more than normal. If you are a frequent reader here, you are familiar with Boca (who was featured by Huffington Post as they talked about my amazing Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats) and know that her refusing food is about as shocking as Mr. Teacher-Chef turning down food! I knew something was really wrong when her stomach was rock hard, she refused food, and then yelped jumping into the car. We rushed to the animal hospital where they saw something disturbing on her tummy x-ray. Exploratory Stomach Surgery and they found no blockage, but did find non-functional intestines. Fast-Forward a day or two and the Doctor thinks she strained to poop (sorry, I know this is a food blog and we shouldn’t be talking poop – but, ya know) and lost function of her hind quarters. A few days of Laser Therapy and Chiropractic and no improvement and we pulled her from the 1st Vet and brought her to a specialist (at the same office where Boca had her TPLO two years ago – we love Valley Central).

2013 Boca Dog Bone

On Monday, September 16 , 2014 – Boca went into Spinal Surgery to fix the Double Herniated Disks they discovered upon doing an MRI. A few days later she came home (shaved but in good spirits to be finally coming home). Even though she was “home” we were not back to normal OR free and clear as she was paralyzed and confined to the tiled kitchen with plenty of blakets. For the next Month and a Half we spent at least 2 hours a day working on Home Therapy which included range of motion and all sorts of other exercises and trips back to VCVRC for Laser and Check-Ups. In addition to not having use of her back 1/3 of her body – Boca had NO control over her bladder or bowels… we had to hold up her back half and find her bladder and squeeze to empty her pee and with the bowels it was either a Q-tip covered in Vaseline or clean up #2 when it randomly just came out.Boca AquaPaws Water Therapy We also spent some quality time at a great Animal Rehab Center where they continued Laser as well as using Electric Simulator, Water & Massage Therapy.

About 6-Weeks post[surgery we met with our amazing surgeon who officially confirmed our worst nightmares (which we had assumed after seeing her in the pool the previous week) and saw NO hindquarter movement. Dr. Gifford told us that Boca had less than a 20% chance of ever walking and basically no chance of ever regaining control of her bathroom function. That meant a lifetime of a dog who used to love chasing her ball being confined to the kitchen, only allowed outside (her favorite place) when supervised and with help, us ruling our lives around making sure she used the bathroom often enough to not have accidents, and no more snuggling or hiking or running. Boca is, and will always be, our Baby Girl and a Dog who was filled with life. We knew that a future of her living the life she had been living was not the way she would want to live – and that is what she would tell us if she could talk.

we tried out diapers

we tried out diapers


laying on the deck was always a favorite activity to the very end

laying on the deck was always a favorite activity to the very end


one last hike through the woods - with no use of her hind legs, Rich had to support her hindquarters with a towel

one last hike through the woods – with no use of her hind legs, Rich had to support her hindquarters with a towel

We spent the last week of October 2014 spoiling Boca as best as we could. We made steak to share with her, spoiled with plenty of treats, as many ball-tosses as she could drag herself around the yard to chase, and even one last hike (which somehow she was still able to ‘pull’ while being paralyzed)! We started November officially making one of the worst decisions Dog Parents have to make…

I have been told that Dogs do not need to stay on Earth as long as Human’s do because they teach us how to love and live a good life and be nice in such a short time… people take a while to learn how to do that which is why we have to live so long – dogs already know how to do all that good stuff, so they teach us as much as they can and then move on to play forever (since we know that Disney taught us all that All Dogs Go to Heaven)!

Pre-Injury Boca started the school year helping me lesson plan (she wanted me to teach ball-throwing obviously

Pre-Injury Boca started the school year helping me lesson plan (she wanted me to teach ball-throwing obviously)

Our 2013 Family Photo

Our 2013 Family Photo

In the four and a half years that Boca was here on Earth with us – she taught us some amazing Life Lessons. I posted these on Facebook to help me remember everything that Boca had taught me (remembering the good things is a great way to cope with a loss). I wrote these while snuggling with her that last morning – people were touched so deeply by these lessons that I wanted to share my Life Lessons from Boca with all of you….

life lessons from boca dog

Life Lessons from Boca

*note* if you need this PDF customized at all with your dog’s name or photo, please reach out to me at


ALSO – if you are need of a way to keep a part of your pup with you forever, please reach out to Nicole at MetroPawlitanArt – she has done amazing noseprint keychains and necklaces of both our furbabies for us! We luckily did Boca’s just days before she got sick – thank you Nicole, also if you are in need of ceramics… that is now something she can do with your noseprints or paw prints as well!!!!!


Life Lessons from the Dog — 12 Comments

  1. Thanks, Rachel, for sharing this. I still tear up when I think about Boca and what happened. She was such a sweet, loving member of the family. She is certainly going to be missed.

  2. Boca was so lucky to have you and Rich as her “Mom & Dad”… she was loved and showed her love for you two in so many ways. She will always be a special part of you!

  3. Bravery comes in lots of ways and your actions were just that. Brave. It was the best, most loving and kindest thing you could do for Boca. You have some wonderful memories and I hope these will keep you going.

    • Bravery is a good way to put it – thank you so much for putting it that way, it is so hard to think of this and put the positive spin to this horrible situation, your support means a lot to us!!

  4. It’s so hard to know she’s gone but this is a wonderful way to remember her Putting it out there for others is so nice and might help others through a hard loss too. Love you guys! Xoxo!

  5. What a beautiful tribute to Boca! Your love for her shines through! Your words brought tears to my eyes as I remembered what a wonderful grand-dog she was and always will be in my heart. Something reminds me of her every day. We will all miss her so much! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us! Mom A