Champ arrived as our bichon, Bon Bon, had grown older and accustomed to being lord of her territory. She disliked dog visitors and anything they touched needed to be sterilized before she'd go near it again. Champ's arrival proved that unexpected intrusions to status quo can turn life upside down and teach us something about ourselves and our world.
Our son and his college buddies rescued Champ from impending death and brought him to their off-campus house, but later one dilemma was noted on his Thanksgiving visit home with Champ... Champ did not have a permanent home.
Bon Bon was aging, too old to change or adjust, especially to a new dog and one that barely fit through the door and with as much vigor as Champ. One look at him and Bon Bon shrank, trembling behind the sofa.
Compliant, my son sought a new home for Champ, and when he found a prospect in Louisiana, I changed my mind. Bon Bon would adjust.
Pleeeeease God. Until then, we kept them separated for eating and backyard business. Other than that, Bon Bon dwelled behind the sofa.
One day, as playful Champ got all the attention, Bon Bon stepped out from hiding, strut across the living room and stood on Champ's enormous bed, eyeing his and our reaction.The trembling had ended.
Champ leapt, like something from The Matrix and landed in front of her, his giant face in her foo-foo sized, and he roared deep.
We froze -- one eye closed, the other squinted.
Bon Bon's upper lip curled, and she snarled, long and low.
Whatever transpired behind that sofa, in a split second, she'd grown Hulk-sized moxie (and my heart pounded for her safety,) but Champ backed off. From that day forward, the beast with the sizeable jaw let Bon Bon call the shots.
And so Bon Bon taught him a few things in her very make-no-big-deal-about-it, lackluster way, like how to step calmly into rain in order to take care of business (Champ hates rain.) And he taught her to grow a thicker skin, quit shaking, and also to skootch over, make room for a gigantic dog from death row and even play, do a little chasing now and then.
When Champ's ear required surgery, he wore a cone for several days and was unable to get the cone around his food dish, so he just stared at me, like, "I really want to eat, but..."
Bon Bon moved in and stuck her face in his bowl, like, "Gosh, darn. Do I have to teach you everything? This is how you do it, see? I stick my face in your food and you bust in and start eating."
He overcame awkwardness fast.
Bon Bon also seized ownership of Champ's bed, preferring to sprawl with room to roll, and he chose his battle wisely, as in, "It's all yours babe. I like tiny." The day he stretched across the big bed for a change, she snuggled up for the first time.
When Bon Bon lost her vision, Champ looked after her when they went outdoors. He checked her whereabouts and warded off the wicked squirrels as she had once done herself.
The day that Bon Bon died, we were given the option to take her home or leave her. We brought her home, and I kept Champ inside until my husband and son gave her a proper burial.
Champ went right to the burial spot, sniffed the area, moped away and lay down in the opposite corner.
The next morning, he went outside, ran to the spot and peed. Dog talk, I supposed.
Yesterday afternoon, as a cold, slushy rain fell. Champ ran to the door, stared out and changed his mind. He'd hold off until weather improved.
Some changes, I suppose, do not stick, but prove that our world is made a better place because of friends.
We miss you, Bon Bon!