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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

THE PAINFUL LOSS OF BOOJUM

It was winter in Baja, Boojum had finally recovered from a tough time with pancreatitis and was now his old self again at the age of 13 and ready to chase those whiley coyotes.  On this particular day the offshore winds were blowing a stiff 30 mph and dust was blowing all thru the air.  I had just come in from surfing and decided to go diving for some fresh halibut for dinner.  My girlfriend Roberta was back at camp with Boojum.  The tide was low and soon the Mexicans from the nearby villages would be driving up the beach getting ready to pick their bait off the rocks for their lobster traps.  They would also be driving down the dirt road in front of our camp.

While I was diving in a pond about a ½ mile away from our camp I heard someone yelling my name.  I looked up and it was a friend of ours frantically waving his arms.  My stomach knotted right then.  I knew something had happened.  I could h ear him saying, “ Boojum!  Someone ran over Boojum!”  My mind went mad, I couldn’t believe what he was saying but it was real.  I was frantic, he said one of the trucks ran over Boojum but he is not dead but he is squirming in the road and crying.  I remember yelling, “Oh shit!!  Oh shit!!  NO!  NO! NO!  Boojum!  Boojum!  NO!! NO!!”  I jumped on my bicycle and rode as fast as I possibly could.  I couldn’t or didn’t want to believe that Boojum had gotten run over.  NO!  NO!  NO! Then I saw Roberta crying, knelling next to Boojum and I could see him squirming and banging his head against the ground in pain, crying, yelping, trying to move and get away from the pain.  I dropped on the road beside him and put my hands under his head to keep him from banging it on the ground.  The sounds of agony coming from him were like daggers being plunged into my heart.  My mind was going crazy not knowing how to ease his pain.  Roberta said through her tears that she was out behind camp with Boojum trying to keep the partition to our bano from blowing away and the next thing she knew Boojum was laying in the road and a truck had just passed by and she then realized Boojum was hurt. Our friend came running over and she asked him to go and get me. 

Boojum kept banging his head into my hands and I was pretty sure they had run over his back and that they mist have crushed his back section.  It was the most hideous sound he was making, it was killing us to watch him in such pain.  I laid there and tears kept flooding my eyes.  I must have laid with him in the road and Roberta by my side for 40 minutes trying to figure out what to do.  By now it was around 4:30 to 5pm and the nearest vet was 2 hours away and would be closed by the time we got there in the dark.  Boojum had been crushed and there wasn’t much any vet could do except put him out of his misery.  Another friend happened to come by and we got Boojum onto a blanket, him screaming the whole time as we moved him to our camp and laid him under the awning.  The winds were still hollowing offshore and the temperature was dropping to the low 50’s.  We tried to make Boojum as comfortable as possible but he kept banging his head and screaming but he was now becoming horse from screaming so much he was just making a wheezing sound.  It was tearing myself and Roberta to pieces.  We placed padding under his head and blankets to keep him as warm as possible.  The wind was whistling through our camp.  I changed and got some warm clothes on.  Both Roberta and I were crying uncontrollably by not being able to help Boojum’s misery. 

As the night came on and the winds got stronger and colder I laid beside Boojum with thoughts of putting him out of pain.  I thought if using a sledge hammer, that about killed me to think of crushing my dogs head, I couldn’t do that, what if it didn’t work.  Then I thought if taking a knife but them I couldn’t bare to do that either.  Everything seemed to crazy and all the time I am still hearing him crying out in pain.  It was killing me over and over and I couldn’t help but  keep crying out his name, Boojum, Boojum, Boojum.  I just wanted to stop his suffering but it was going to be a long grueling painful night. Roberta was in the camper crying her heart out having to listen to Boojum and then me.  Boojum, Roberta and I had been through a lot together with Boojums broken back, the surgery and the recovery then he got pancreatic from the pain meds and we nearly lost him then.  He came back from all those things so it seemed like he got such a cheap shot after all his struggles back to being healthy again.  I didn’t want to lose him but I knew I was this time, but how could I ease his pain, there was no way.  So the entire night was spent trying to keep him from hurting himself anymore and just painfully waiting for day to come so we could take him in and have him put out of his misery.  There was maybe 5 minutes every once in a while through the whole night that Boojum wasn’t trying to scream, his mouth was barely open and his head was banging but barely anymore sound came from him.  I was just about dead with sadness, my heart was splitting in two. 

Morning finally came, the winds were still howling.  We broke camp and managed to get Boojum into the truck.  Then we made the long slow journey out the dirt road to the highway and onto Guerro Negro.  Neither one of us remembers the drive except the military checkpoints where we would say to the officers that our dog was dying and we needed to get him to the vet.  They would say they were sorry and give the sign of the cross, and let us pass with no questions asked.  When we got to town we were lucky the vet was there.  The whole time since we left camp Boojum never cried out, we were somewhat relieved to see him have peace for a while.  I told the vet that I thought his back had been broken and that he had been crushed by a truck.  He took a look at Boojum and felt around on him and asked me what I wanted to do and that he was sorry that there was nothing he could do.  I held back my tears but he could see the pain in my face and my eyes and I said please put him to sleep.

He went into his office and soon returned with his kit and nurse.  Roberta whispered in Boojum’s ear, “I love you Mr. Booj” and left the truck in tears so the vet and nurse could begin.  He gave him an injection and then I saw Boojum take his last sigh and exhale into peace.  The vet turned to me with tears slightly in his own eyes and said, “he is such a noble looking dog, such a beautiful dog, I am very sorry my friend.”  That just took me over the edge, I lost it and had to go on the other side of the truck where I couldn’t be seen.  I later came back and thanked him, paid the bill and we drove away.

Now again we drove the opposite way back to camp only this time in a deeper void of life.  This time we came to the military checkpoints they remembered us and I slowly shook my head and they didn’t stop us, they just waved us through with the sign of the cross and on we went.

There is a place where we stopped on the way back to camp on the dirt road.  The place we stopped  and carried Boojum to the top of a hill.  A place he had picked out years ago to be buried.  We carried him up after digging his grave and preparing it for his cremation.  We placed charcoal  and wood in the grave then placed Boojum wrapped in his favorite blanket on top.  Then we covered him with more wood.  Then I poured gasoline in the grave and we cremated him.  Later we buried him deeper and placed large stones on top of him to keep the coyotes from digging him up.

There he lays at peace over looking all the area where he spent most of his life chasing lizards, coyotes, ravens and wondering down to his favorite campsites for his banquet dinner engagements.

We Miss You Boojum.

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