Bye Bye Boris

//Bye Bye Boris

Bye Bye Boris

Boris the Boston terrier
Has some very pointy ears
And if you ever saw them
You would even say, “He hears.”

You can probably tell this is sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, huh? Unfortunately, an edit from “has some very pointy ears” to “had” is required. Past tense. As in, my husband B and I had to make a difficult decision on the weekend.

Boris was 13-1/2-years-old, a significant age for a dog, don’t you think? He’d developed a heart murmur, which meant he’d pass out if you didn’t carry him up/down stairs (hell, sometimes even if you did!) and he stopped eating. Also? After years of being the best sleeper on the planet, he had a few nights in which he didn’t sleep. His breathing sounded laboured, his heart felt like it was pounding out of his chest.

Getting back to the song, when my daughter Jetanne – Boris’s original owner – reworked it with him in the lead, the “he hears” part was quite true. Over the last couple of years though, those points had softened. We’d arrive home, take off coat, shoes, then either slam the door or give him a shoulder nudge, say, “Hey bud, we’re back!” He’d be lolling on “his” love seat – yeah, although he only dialed in at 10 pounds, he claimed a whole piece of living room furniture, plus his own bed, plus our bed, plus any available lap – tongue out, luxuriating in peaceful slumber in a soft gold afghan that he’d poked, prodded and wound into the perfect shape for his handsome little tuxedoed body.

All of the other Bostons
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Boris
Join in any Boston games

Yeah, so Boris didn’t really do much. A few years ago, the vet said to me, “Does he sleep a lot?” “You can tell?” I said, and he just sort of shrugged, so I guess Boris gave off an air of lethargy.

Next to his love of sleeping? Boris adored the city. He was a city dog, through and through. (I guess when you’re a lightweight and you sense – or hear, he was doing that back when we lived in the country – coyotes in the bush, leaving the porch is probably not a wise decision.)

When Jetanne first got him, she lived in a few different places in our city, one of which was where I helped him become a connoisseur of popcorn. “I’ll never forget Mom whipping popcorn around my sh*tty place and Boris just loving life,” she says. Smartfood. It’s the bomb, right? That no-name stuff? Would not pass Boris’s lips.

Jetanne took Boris to live in Toronto for a time, with her sister Randelle and another roommate who owned a cat. Although it seemed the pair didn’t care for one another, the girls would come home to find them curled up together.

Then one foggy summer’s day
His owner came to say,
“Boris with your ears so sharp
won’t you guide me through the park?”

What happened is this: Jetanne had three kids. Number one? No problemo. Number two? Well, when you see pictures of Boris after number two? You can tell. Boris was no longer “loving life”. The noise level? The flailing limbs? The random toys flying around? The lack of attention from his person? (The lack of a lap!)

Boris moved in with me and B, where he could get a lap from time to time, some peace and quiet. And when we moved, temporarily, into B’s condo, where the condo rules stated “no dogs”? Well, Boris was back! In the big city with those big city smells of all of those other big city dogs. He trotted those sidewalks proudly, sniffing this and that, sporting that red vest proclaiming him “Service Dog”. Okay. The condo board president was skeptical. He also, weirdly, questioned the doctor’s note from California insisting I needed an “emotional support dog”. Hmmm.

We moved into our little house in north London, Ontario, a couple of summers ago and Boris couldn’t have been happier. No more elevator rides, prying eyes, or red vest. He took immediate ownership of our small city block and all of its wonderful scents. He and I wandered around, getting to know our neighbours and their names, mostly the four-legged ones.

Oh man. It’s going to take some adjusting. Despite all of my previous losses, despite copious amounts of deep spiritual reading, I’m still not okay with the concept of death. Loss. We aim to live. To win, yes? I sent a text to my gang today: “I feel like grief is one of those emotions one just never gets good at.” I’ll keep working on it. In the meantime? Boris, I miss you buddy.

Then all the Bostons loved him
And they shouted out with glee,
“Boris the Boston terrier
you’ll go down in history!”



  1. Cathy February 27, 2019 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Very sweet. They certainly are family members and we miss them just as much xxx

  2. Glenda James February 27, 2019 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    They don’t talk back and always want a kiss and hug!

    • Rita Hartley February 27, 2019 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      So true! It’s an unconditional love relationship with no push back!

  3. Hilaryslater1 March 9, 2019 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Lovely tribute. He had a great life with more than his share of love and adventures … it’s tough owning a dog.. knowing that you’re going to outlive it and grief is waiting in the wings.. but better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all 😉 hugs.. and hope it’s getting easier

    • Rita Hartley March 9, 2019 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      Thx so much Hilary! You make a good point about outliving, the grief waiting. It is certainly worth it, to enjoy that unconditional love. It still feels like something is missing …

  4. emily gayle March 17, 2019 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Night 1 he slept downstairs, night 2 he slept beside my bed, night 3 he got up and crawled under the covers and slept by my feet. What a rascal! He really was a charmer. So sorry to hear this.

    • Rita Hartley March 18, 2019 at 11:14 am - Reply

      And thank you Emily for being part of his life! Oh how he worked his way into people’s beds and hearts! Still missing him terribly.

Leave A Comment