My Lhasa Apso Dog, Bodhi – 2014

Fran Miller, Ph.D. ©

It’s hard to write about Bodhi because I loved her so much. Today I heard about a new baby Panda at the Washington DC Zoo. It’s name is Precious Treasure. It sounds corny but Bodhi was so precious, and she definitely was my treasure.

After I lost my Great White Pyrenees dog, Bear, in 2001, I didn’t think about getting another dog for a couple of years. And then I tried with two different Pyrenees puppies. For different reasons neither of them worked out, and I returned both of them to their breeders. One day I got in a car with a friend who had a Lhasa Apso dog which was noticeably affectionate and mild mannered. I braved looking at the listings in the Bend Bulletin a couple of times, and one day The Bulletin listed five Lhasa Apso fire crackers. It was the fourth of July. One day when I was driving near their location, I called and they talked me into coming over to see the puppies. The one I picked up of the five little puppies running around was a friendly tri color. I went back three times before I took her home. When I left with her, I said, “If she cries on the way home, I’m coming back.” She never cried. I slept on the floor with her for a few nights until she got used to the bed. I took her outside onto the lawn every two hours for several nights until she could sleep through the night. I had a new puppy, and I named her Bodhicitta, which means the search for enlightenment, and called her Bodhi. 

When she was a puppy, she didn’t have a snout at all, her face was perfectly cute and it looked like a little owl face. She turned her head just like an owl, and I used to say, “I didn’t know I got a little owlie!!” She was so tiny that when she walked in the grass in the yard, the grass reached as high as her tummy. When she was young she got to hang out with my son’s dog, Scooter. They were buds and loved to chase squirrels, romp in the house, or snuggle with their stuffed animals together. 

I lived in Bend then so we had an extremely beautiful environment to walk and explore. Most of the time I drove the short distance to downtown Bend, and we walked through Drake Park, along the Descutes River at Mirror Pond, and back through the short main street of town. We walked other places: along the Deschutes off First Street north of downtown, along the Descutes through the park on Colorado, through the trees behind The Athletic Club of Bend. But Drake Park and Mirror Pond was our daily regular walk. She got to know path, trees, and bridges, the shops, shopkeepers, Bella Taza Cafe, and baristas. She led me through the trees, around the blocks of downtown, and knew all the stores that we visited. She knew the routine of exercise mornings. She would know her walk was first, then she waited for my hour of exercise, then coffee, and more walks. 

Because I am a therapist, some of her favorite times, and most familiar ones, were greeting clients and keeping them company during sessions. One client named her “Fickle” because when the client would leave, Bodhi would run to happily greet the next client. She loved keeping everyone company, and she knew who she knew and who was a new client. She never had a problem with a client, and I don’t think she was ever a problem to the client. She was never any effort in therapy except on the rare occasion when she was sick.

One notable trait that Bodhi had from the beginning, was what my daughter described as “mapping”. Wherever we walked she would remember exactly the route we took the first time, and then ever after that she led the way on the exact same path. About once or twice a year I used to drive to Santa Paula, California, where my son, daughter in law, and grandson lived. We always stopped in the same place overnight, and walked the same route by the local Starbucks. Once I stopped next door to the Starbucks, got an ice creme, and sat with her at a table out front. The next time we were there was about a year later. When we went for her walk, we passed the Starbucks, and then Bodhi pulled on the leash leading me to the exact table we had sat at the year before! So we sat there for awhile, and then she was happy, and would go on with our walk!

All the while we lived in Bend, I drove twice a month to Portland with her to see my clients. I had a condo in Portland so we had another life and routine there, though the visits were brief. I would drive over the mountain on Friday morning and then back to Bend on Sunday. She totally accepted the two homes, drove perfectly for the long distance each trip, and had her little routine that she fell into in the second location. She was perfectly accepting of her little life, was sweet, loyal, affectionate, and adorable. 

One thing she used to do regularly at the condo, had to do with her walks there. When we went out the front door, we could either go left towards the neighborhood with lawns and grass, or we could go right to NW 23rd Street and walk along the shops, restaurants, and boutiques. Sometimes when I would take her out I would head to the left by the lawns because we were in a hurry, but sometimes I would let her decide which way she wanted to go. When I did that, I was surprised that she always wanted to go to the right down to the shops and boutiques. Once there, she would totally strut her stuff. Somehow she seemed to know that she was in an upscale neighborhood, in front of fancy boutiques. She would strut and prance with her nose and her tail both held high in the air as if she was in the Westminster dog show!

When she was seven, I had to move to Portland. We commuted back and forth to Bend every three weeks for a year, and then I stopped our trips to Bend. When I picked out the apartment complex that we were going to move into, they didn’t have an apartment available for four months. During that time we visited the complex numerous times, and walked everywhere in the neighborhood. When we finally moved in, it was almost like coming home. She ran right in, and was just as happy in her new place. She never had negative reactions to things. She was perfectly accommodating and adjusted to changes. I can’t think of anything that she reacted negatively to. Even her regular veterinary clinic, she eagerly ran into, and checked out all the little rooms looking for the doctor.

One thing that she did in the apartment that was so funny had to do with her regular habit to keep track of what room I was in, and follow me around. Sometimes I would go down the hallway that led to the back bedrooms, but I would turn to the left into a side room. When she realized I had changed rooms, she would charge down the hallway heading for the back rooms. When I called to her, and she realized I was back in the other room, she would come to a screeching halt, turn around, run back, and then sit by the door where I was. Then she would patiently wait to see where I was headed next. She also had the peculiar habit of watching me put on my makeup. No matter what room I was in when putting on make up, she would sit for the whole process, and watch my every move. 

When she was ten she got sick with pancreatitis. She had had small seizures very occasionally since she was a puppy and took medication for it. It turned out that perhaps that medication contributed to the pancreatitis. The doctors, specialist internal medicine veterinarians, changed her medication. From then on she needed meds every eight hours. That was difficult and was stressful for both of us. In March of 2014, she was diagnosed with diabetes. It was extremely difficult to think about being without Bodhi. We had been together literally 24/7 for ten years. On her last day, I took her to the Hoyt Arboretum in the morning for a walk. On the way home we passed the Portland Catholic Cemetery. I had often walked Bear there. I pulled over and rolled down the window. She jumped up with her paws on the window sill, and stayed there for the longest time staring at the trees, the walkways, the stone markers. I felt she was looking over to the other side. I took a picture of her looking at the headstones. I love that picture. It was an extraordinary moment.

The afternoon that she died, I drove her north up our hill on Miller Road, took her for a walk there, and then sat in the car where both of us could see the beautiful view to the west — the street and view that we had both come to love. Before we left, she gave me the longest look. “Stay with me,” I said. Again, she gave me the straightest, intense look as if to say, “I promise; I will.” And she has.