A Suburban Farmgirl Dog Tale

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A dog’s love is unconditional. Always happy to see us, they don’t care about our outside, just what’s on the inside. Pets are “family”, and dogs are no exception. The holidays are a time of magic, love and giving. Dogs are our greatest teachers for that, with their selflessness and gift of pure love!

Last month marked my Suburban Farmgirl blogging anniversary. Having started in 2010, my first-ever blog was about Thanksgiving. Next was titled, “Our Other Child”, about Bonnie, our rescued “German-Shusky”, who forever changed our lives.

While all fur-babies are extra-special, sometimes, there’s one that’s different…an exceptional pup. That was our Bonnie. We adopted her from a shelter, where before we were her fur-ever family, she’d been first on a southern puppy mill farm, then adopted out here but inexplicably sent back (thankfully) to the shelter. Somewhere along the way, she’d been abused. One leg was always bowed. Our vet said it’d been previously broken and not set right. She was also deathly afraid of water, screaming uncontrollably if bathed. (We learned to bathe her away from a tub). Her past didn’t define her, and she grew to be a confident, happy girl. My husband first knew she was the dog for us from her online photo, with her goofy smile and giant pink ears.

She had us with those ears...

She had us with those ears…

Six months old, by the time we adopted her, she’d been in a crate for eight weeks. We’d arrived early, just as shelter volunteers were taking her out before our meeting. As we pulled in the parking lot, she was bouncing like Tigger! I panicked a bit at sight of the fluffy ball of energy, but right at meeting, our hearts connected. That first car ride, she calmly sat, like she knew we were going “home”. At the house, she became elated after sniffing our daughter’s toys, excited she’d have a child to play with! When my daughter came off the bus that day, Bonnie and Audrey were forever bonded, best friends.

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She always wanted to be with Audrey and her playmates.

She always wanted to be with Audrey and her playmates.

Bonnie was like a fur-covered human. A vet once referred to her as a “genius”, a label he reluctantly used, but he said he’d never met a dog like her. An intense stare in your eyes “usually means aggression with dogs”, but with “Bon Bon”, it wasn’t. “She’s reading the humans around her”, the vet marveled.

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Bonnie could communicate! She quickly learned (without human intervention) to ring the bell on our door to go out, a skill I’d given up on with our other pups. Once, when my daughter ignored the ringing and I was out of earshot, she pulled the bell off the door, dropped it at my feet, and puddled the floor as if to say, “I rang it. Told ya I had to go out”. Another time, I told her we were going on a walk. Before we could leave, the phone rang. As I chatted, Bonnie became impatient. She went upstairs and opened my closet. All of my shoes were stacked in boxes. I heard rumbling. Soon, Bonnie came down the stairs, my walking shoes in her mouth. She’d gone through the boxes to find the right pair!

Bonnie could answer “yes” or “no” to questions “like do you want a cookie,” or “do you need to go out?” For “yes”, she’d slam her front paws downward and bark. For “no”, she literally shook her head.

Bonnie only knew love from us, but for a while we could tell she had nightmares. She’d come to us and whimper, as if to tell us about some awful ordeal. Eventually, the nightmares stopped. If we were gone for long periods of time, she’d be so gleeful at our return, leaping in the air and howling. She truly loved us with her whole heart.

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Together, we walked many miles. She adored snow and sledding with my daughter. Bonnie knew what holidays were. Her birthday was the day before mine, and she LOVED having the birthday song sung to her and opening presents. At Christmas, she knew exactly which stocking was hers. She was unbelievably smart. She could also be stubborn and mischievous, and never learned to walk on a leash without pulling us like a sled. Bonnie had so much personality!

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Unfortunately, this fall, Bonnie became sick with very aggressive cancer. She held on as long as she could. Our vet office did all they could, but eventually (and quickly), Bonnie couldn’t fight anymore. Two days before Thanksgiving, our last morning together, she mustered all her strength and climbed into my lap on the sofa. She knew we were going to say goodbye, and she wanted to make sure I was okay. Before leaving for our appointment with the vet, our other dogs snuggled with us, both licking Bonnie’s face.

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Putting a dog down is just awful, but our vet couldn’t have made it nicer, with a peaceful, cozy room with a fireplace and fluffy rug. When Bonnie’s heart stopped, mine felt like it shattered. I will always carry her in my heart. I can’t imagine Heaven without our beloved pets!

What I hope I see at Heaven's gate someday...

“Hi! I missed you!” What I hope I see at Heaven’s gate someday…

I love all my furbabies immensely, but my connection with Bonnie was super-special. She “got” me.  My husband would say she was my “other soul mate”, my constant companion. I never liked dogs in my bed, but quickly lost that battle. She knew not to jump on the bed until the “dog sheet” was on, and for eight years, she slept on my feet. I’d often wake up cramped, Bonnie grasping my legs with her paws. What I wouldn’t give for one more sleepless night!

Bonnie at the end of the summer.       2008 - 1016

Bonnie at the end of the summer.
2008 – 2016

There’s a happy ending to this tail tale. A year ago at Christmas, we adopted a puppy, Scarlett. When we first brought Scarlett home, we feared Bonnie would be jealous, but the opposite happened. At first sight, she wagged her whole body in pure joy, as if to say, “You brought ME a puppy! You brought ME a puppy!” Bonnie adopted Scarlett as HER baby, constantly fretting over Scarlett. Bonnie was never happier. She was a great mom, and she raised a good baby.

Our latest addition to the family, last Christmas.

Our latest addition to the family, last Christmas.

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Scarlett’s now full grown, looking after little Pip, and acting as my shadow. She misses her dog mom, as do we, but she’s got us smiling and laughing with her adorable antics. She reminds me so much of Bonnie!

Scarlett and Audrey getting ready for Christmas!

Scarlett and Audrey getting ready for Christmas!

We are so thankful for our little fur-girl. It’s Scarlett’s first Christmas with us, and we can’t wait to show her a great holiday!

Wishing you all the Happiest of Holidays!

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 36 Comments

  1. Jamie Moeckly says:

    My heart feels for you! We love our animals so much. I also had to put my 14 year old husky down this fall. I miss him every day! Take care.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Jamie, I am so sorry to hear you lost your fur-baby recently, too. The “husky” part of Bonnie was so talkative! She made all those wonderful husky noises. My house seems too quiet now, even with two dogs! You are so blessed you had your baby for 14 years. Much love to you. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Marrietta O'Brien says:

    Nicole, how my heart aches for you.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Marietta. I miss her so much. We’ve been through the death of a pet so many times before, but losing Bonnie was the worst. We all miss her so much. We are so thankful for Scarlett! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Dori Troutman says:

    Hello Nicole,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Bonnie. But how special that she got a year in of raising Scarlett to take her place.

    Dogs are such amazing animals. I’m always so blown away by their intuition and understanding about so many things.

    Audrey is growing up! What a beautiful girl she is!

    Happy Holidays Nicole!

    – Dori –

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori!
      Thank you! It’s hard to believe that Audrey is in HIGHSCHOOL. How did that happen? Time flies. I am so happy that Audrey had Bonnie during her childhood. They were great buddies. Audrey made me so proud. She was so strong and went with us to the vet to say goodbye to our beloved Bonnie, and I am so happy she now has Scarlett by side.

      Wishing you and your beautiful family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

      Farmgirl Hugs,
      Nicole

  4. Christine says:

    Oh my! I’m literally sobbing right now, trying to write this as I’m crying my eyes out. I’m sitting with my dog, my 4th child who happens to have fur, and I can’t imagine our lives without him. Bonnie is with you always…..in your hearts. ❤

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Christine, Thank you. They really are our fur-children, aren’t they? Please give your pup a hug from me. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Nancy says:

    I’m so sorry for you losing Bonnie. I lost my ” once in a lifetime dog” one year ago on Halloween. I miss her so. I got a new rescue three weeks later who gives me such joy, but there is always such a special place in your heart for that special dog. Waiting to see all the fur babies at heavens gate!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Nancy, I am so sorry to hear you lost a special fur-baby, too, but happy you have a new rescue, too. Scarlett is certainly helping us! We will always miss our Bonnie. Thanks for commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Jennifer Chappell says:

    Heaven is the place where all the souls we have ever loved come running to greet us.

  7. Sheryl says:

    S sorry for your loss. We love them so, don’t we. Lovely tribute. Merry Christmas!

  8. Joan says:

    My deepest heart love to y’all. God bless.

  9. Victoria Hall says:

    Ok….I’m bawling my eyes out. Every dog I have had has made me make that horrible decision to have them “put down”. The last one was 2 1/2 years ago . Our little boy was 15. Have decided I just can’t do this anymore…too much heart ache. I figure its the closest thing to losing a child and seeing as how we will more than likely out live them, I’m just not going to go through that again. My heart is broken and I don’t think it will mend. Just waiting till I pass over the Rainbow Bridge! What a joyous day that will be!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Victoria, I am sooo sorry you lost your fur-baby! It’s only been a few weeks since we lost Bonnie, and I still will catch my breath every once in awhile missing my Bon or something that she would have normally done. Just today, I realized when my other dog patiently sat waiting for someone to fill her water bowl, Bonnie would have picked the dish up and thrown it at me! She could never have a glass dish, lol. My heart is broken, but I wouldn’t trade those eight short years with her for anything. I will always have dogs, no matter how much it hurts to lose them. Bonnie was a rescue, and she would not want me to not have a dog in her place getting love and care. I know she was okay to go because she knew we were going to take care of Scarlett and Scarlett will take care of us. I agree, though, that putting a dog down is horribly hard! I will always miss her. Much love to you. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Sheree says:

    Nicole,
    We knew yall were the right family for Scarlett.
    I’m so glad that little bit of Texas has so much love all the way up in Connecticut.

    See yall soon,
    Sheree

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sheree, We can never thank you enough for all you all did. Scarlett is so wonderful and so very loving. See you soon! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Marilyn says:

    Sorry to hear about Bonnie. Scarlett is adorable and looking very contented. Thanks for sharing this post.Wishing you and yours a Merry and Blessed Christmas.

    Marilyn

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marilyn, Thank you. Scarlett is missing Bonnie, too, but she is certainly coming into her own as the head pup! She and Pip are really best buddies. Merry Christmas to you, too. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Linda says:

    When I feel like I have no one else, I always have my dogs. They love me no matter what. Part of the responsibility of being a pet owner is knowing when it’s time to say good bye, but for every dog rescued from a shelter it’s one less animal not confined to a cage or put down way before it’s time.
    Nicole, thank you for sharing your special pup with us, I know it wasn’t easy and especially thank you for choosing a rescue dog. There are so many that need a loving home and they are so appreciative.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Linda, Thank you for saying that. We have always had rescues, and they “know” they have been rescued, like they appreciate their home and love. We love spoiling them rotten! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Julie says:

    Was SO sorry to hear of you losing your Bonnie. I loved reading about her life… she sure sounded very clever. That’s what makes “special pets” endearing, their one of a kind personalities. My friend had a Border collie that opened up the fridge when they left their home, but only after she watched them pull out of the driveway. They caught her helping herself to goodies, only, because they parked behind the house and peeked in the front door! It’s amazing how intelligent they can be. Bless their “furry souls”.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, Thank you. You are so right! We have always had a dog (or two, or three…). They all have had their unique little traits. I love the story of your friend’s Border collie! It reminds me a bit of my doberman I had when Audrey was a toddler. My husband had brought home two ornate, two-story Victorian gingerbread houses he got from a client, one for me and one for Audrey. Mine was in the kitchen, hers on the dresser. Audrey’s totally collapsed one day. Then, a few days later, mine started crumbling. Then I caught him. The doberman was munching, but from the “back” so we couldn’t tell! He was smart, too. Not as clever as Bonnie though. I miss all her quirks so very much. Thank you so much for sharing and putting a smile on my face. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Diane Loehr says:

    Hi Nicole and Family – I am so sorry to hear about Bonnie. I was here at work early this morning reading your story and was crying. So hard to let go! Our animals just don’t live long enough for us, especially those that have a special place in our hearts. I also love animals very much and I hate when I have to make the decision, even though I know it is in the best interest of the animal. May all your other animals bring you comfort and heal your heart at this sad time. Merry Christmas and all the Best Wishes for the New Year!
    Diane

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diane, Thank you so very much. I wish they lived longer! Pure love. We are so blessed to have Scarlett and Pip, and our other fur-babies. Hugs to you and yours, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Beautiful story and pictures. Bonnie loved me too, and I am bawling my eyes out.

  16. denise says:

    Oh so sorry for your loss! they create a giant hole in our hearts when they have to go but it is worth is all for their love they give us in return.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, I wholeheartedly agree! I wouldn’t trade one minute I had with any of my dogs. xoxo Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Alice Minasian says:

    I’m honored that I had the opportunity to interact with this most beautiful, intelligent being.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ali, Oh thank you. She was a wonderful, amazing little soul. She could be picky who she liked, and she always liked you! I love that you always called her “Eddie Munster”…I still laugh at that! I was remembering yesterday as I filled Scarlett’s water bowl how if it was Bonnie and the bowl was empty, she would’ve tossed the bowl AT me, lol! I will forever miss her. Can’t wait for you to meet Scarlett! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  18. Denise Ross says:

    Oh Nicole, I’m so very sorry to hear of Bonnie’s passing. She sounds and looks a beautiful treasure. I’m so happy too, that you hav so many wonderful memories. I’m sure Scarlett will have a very special Christmas together with you and your family. Merry Christmas to you from Australia

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! Thank you so much. We are so thankful for Scarlett, as she reminds us a lot of Bonnie. We feel like we have Bonnie’s baby, since she “raised” her. Merry Christmas to you, too! Much love! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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