The day we met was in early November 2009. Mike and I waited patiently in a parking lot with about 20 other anxious adopters because the truck making the trip from Indiana to Connecticut was more than 30 minutes late. We were overflowing with heartfelt excitement, nervous energy, and anticipation for his arrival. We were about to be introduced to our rescue dog, a one-year-old Labrador Retriever. How quickly time has passed since that memorable day when we picked up our Chocolate Lab, Bogey.
We had lost our 13-year-old dog, Jake, in July 2008, just one year after we moved to New York City. So we felt it was time –– time to save another unwanted animal and offer him a second chance at life. And “Molson” was my pick. The moment I saw his photo flash across my laptop’s screen, I knew we were destined to meet.
I had been scouring rescue sites for nearly a year when I discovered Molson’s picture. His bio stated that he’d been found wandering the streets in Southern Illinois and had been picked up and taken to a kill shelter. Someone who worked for the shelter had pulled him out, and he ended up at Lucky Lab Rescue in Indiana.
From there, he went to the rescue group’s owner, Cathy, and she cared for him along with a slew of other Labrador Retrievers, until the big day arrived. Her husband, Dean, and a colleague would drive Molson and his pack of lucky adoptees to a meeting place outside Hartford. We, along with other future pup parents, would gather and pick up our new family members.
Dean unloaded the truck, dog by dog, until finally, he shouted, “Molson!” and a rambunctious chocolate Lab romped toward us as if to say, “They are my people!”
“Molson!” We exclaimed too. That would be the first and last time we would use Molson as a name. On the two-plus hour drive to the Hartford area from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we had warily agreed on the name “Stevie Ray.” But upon our meeting, we took one quick glance at this energetic and clumsy creature and realized straight away –– he was not even close to a Stevie Ray. We had mentioned “Bogart” as a name after Humphrey (the actor) and recognized our new dog, with his classic good looks, was a Bogart inside and out. And so, “Bogey” it was.
We made our long journey through traffic back to NYC, where Bogey found his new home in our apartment, just a block from Riverside Park. We fed him dinner late that evening before going on his first walk in the city, and he ate every bite in less than 30 seconds. Bogey was the hungriest canine we’d ever seen! That meal would be the beginning of Bogey’s lifelong infatuation with all things edible.
Typically, adopting a rescue dog isn’t easy or without drama, and saving Bogey was no different than saving most other homeless pets. In a nutshell, he hasn’t exactly been free of physical and emotional maladies. We survived episodes of explosive diarrhea for more than two years, and continue to battle separation anxiety, food obsession, neurotic tendencies, and coprophagia (a disgusting behavior considered normal among canines).
Not to mention Bogey’s host of medical issues, some of which have depleted our bank account –– several cases of kennel cough (one cost us a whopping $800 to cure), a heartworm diagnosis, Lyme disease positive diagnosis, removal of a tumor on his gum, and most recently, a case of “Happy Tail,” an injured bloody tail caused by an overabundance of tail-wagging that left our apartment resembling a crime scene.
But beyond Bogey’s frequent whining, constant attention seeking, and voracious appetite, he’s one of a kind. Anyone who comes in contact with him can vouch –– Bogey is loving, loyal, sweet, wise, and at times, protective. Although he fluctuates between 75 and 80 pounds, he thinks he’s a lap dog, and he adores belly rubs. He loves to swim and play fetch. He lives for sunbathing and dashing through the snow. And a tennis ball? Well, that is the ultimate treat!
As Bogey’s walks shorten, his muzzle continues to gray, and he transitions into his senior dog years, I’ll treasure each moment we have together. Our weekdays as he keeps me company while I work; our quiet summer days on the Long Island Sound as he romps along the shoreline; our daily walks to Central Park and Riverside Park –– I need to savor it all.
Even among our challenges over the past six years, I’m so grateful I picked Bogey (or perhaps he picked me). It took one look, one meeting, one pet, one lick, and I knew we’d be together forever.