ranch life


On January 1, 2017, we made a spur of the moment decision that changed our lives for good.

We decided that our duo of lab retrievers needed a bullmastiff friend, so after searching for available litters on the AKC website, we found one just south of Ft. Worth, about 2.5 hours from us, that had two males left. We jumped in the car and made it there just before dusk to pick one out. We didn’t think to ask how they preferred to be paid, so we ended up leaving him there on hold while we went to the gas station a few miles away to the ATM, took out an amount of cash from the gas station ATM that should have, in hindsight, triggered some type of fraud alert, but didn’t- probably the Lord’s intervention- and went back to get our boy. When we went back to pick him up, it was dark and Steven reached into the little dog house where the two were and pulled one out. He later wondered if he actually took the wrong one, but we took home Boudreaux. And a legend was born.

Over the next year, Boudreaux grew exponentially in size and in personality. He was 95% lazy and easy going, but still intimidating to strangers. We were pretty sure he believed in his heart that he was a lab because he only hung out with labs doing lab things and he tried to participate, but tired easily physically and emotionally. Boudreaux quickly earned the nickname “Bouj”, or “Boujee”, and boy, was that accurate. He was the most high maintenance low maintenance dog there ever was- the boujee-est. He didn’t need any sort of special care- no hair grooming, no special training, etc. But he was not about to do anything he did not want to do. Case in point- when he was a few months old, he got a little car sick and threw up on the way home from visiting Steven’s parents. He then proceeded to refuse to eat for a little over 24 hours. Being the over the top pet parent couple we were at the time, we quickly swept him to the vet for analysis. The vet threw out differentials like Parvo, a bowel obstruction, some type of poisoning, etc., and we decided to start the work up for an obstruction because it was the lowest ticket item on the differentials. When the vet stepped out to get supplies, just on a hunch, for some reason I decided to toss him a treat from their treat jar. And he gobbled it up. And he gobbled another, and another, and another. And it turned out that all that was wrong with that little prince was that he didn’t like the taste of his dog food after throwing it up. A simple, yet ridiculous fix, but so Bouj.

We loved him before, but the best Boudreaux was the Boudreaux after we had kids. You hear stories about dogs not adjusting well to kids and being jealous but that couldn’t have been more opposite of Bouj. He just knew from day one that those babies were his, and he was the most patient and the most kind with them. They could literally climb on him like a jungle gym, feed him from their tiny grubby hands, jump on him, run smack into him, and pet him with more of a slapping quality than actual petting, and he would never flinch, never make a sound, never move. He just took the “loving”, and let them be. They were his to protect and love.

He was never super social- he somewhat governed the group of fellow dogs, but didn’t play as much and kept to himself to a degree. There was one year during family photos on the annual family lake trip that he literally hid in the bushes to get out of taking pictures. He and Steven never felt more alike than that day because Steven 100% would have been under there with him if he could have gotten away with it.

When he was about 3 years old, we bought the ranch. He and the labs ran all over that place like kids in a candy store, with a particular dislike for the donkeys that were on the place when we bought it. A few days in, the donkeys trotted by and Boudreaux sprinted after them from a dead stop, despite being a large guy. A few weeks after, we noticed one of his back legs wasn’t quite right and he wouldn’t bear weight on it. This was still in the height of COVID (spring 2020), so we made a “curbside” vet appointment. He went in by himself for an assessment and the vet called us with his opinion while we sat in the parking lot. He wanted to refer Boudreaux to a canine orthopedist because he felt like he had probably torn his canine equivalent to his ACL and would need it replaced. So we repeated the process at the veterinary specialist in Round Rock, and a few weeks later, he went in for surgery. He was such a big boy they had to use the largest prothesis plus an additional one, but despite the vet saying he would never regain full mobility, once he got back up and running, we never noticed him limping or any mobility issues. And yes, the hair on his back half did grow back eventually- but weirdly enough, his skin was kind of tiger striped too! He was not really ever able to jump in vehicles like the labs, but after this he required both of us to put his front half in the back of the truck, and then his back half, which we did almost every other weekend for a year before we moved to visit the ranch. It was the smelliest, most stubborn dead lift in the world!

Boudreaux was the poster child for comfort creature- that kid would literally bring blankets and dog beds from all over the house all together to one spot in the living room to make himself the most comfortable spot possible- as Dwight Schrute needed Mega Desk, Boudreaux needed Mega Bed. For a time in our Temple house we would let him sleep at night in the living room because he would usually be asleep in the corner or on his bed whenever we were ready to go to bed, and we trusted him not to make a mess being out on his own. But every morning we would walk out and he would have made himself comfortable on the couch like a human- to the point that we started putting a sheet on the couch in anticipation of him sleeping there. He was the funniest dog in that he seemed to be almost like a step between a dog and a human. He had so many mannerisms and behaviors that seemed too advanced for a dog, like he just understood things and his role in our family. And it was like he just understood that he was too good to sleep on the floor, haha!

Once we moved to our current house, he really became what he was meant to be- our guard dog. He free roamed around our house, never straying, never leaving the perimeter of our property, just keeping a watchful eye on things. We could always tell when he’d decided to get up from a nap in the sun on the back porch to greet a delivery driver because packages would occasionally be randomly in the middle of the driveway instead of stacked nicely next to the garage or front door, like they’d seen him coming and dumped boxes and ran. He was a presence- never aggressive, but never goofy to where he wasn’t taken seriously. He had a job to do and he was friendly, but also protective of his people.

One Wednesday night in mid May, I went out to feed all the dogs. Typically Boudreaux would inhale his dinner and move on to everyone else’s, but this night he didn’t seem interested in eating. We had gotten home closer to 9 because we’d been at Wednesday night church, so I was more concerned with getting everyone situated to go to bed since it was later than usual. He would sometimes get concerned about random bumps and thumps in the night if we left him out, so we’d been kenneling him every night so we could all sleep, but I decided to leave him out for a little longer that night to let him stretch and didn’t put him up with the rest of the dogs. But after we watched a show before bed, I completely forgot he was still out and we went to bed without thinking about it again.

The next morning was the last day of preschool, and a Thursday morning, which meant Steven was in clinic and went to work a little later. Right after he left, I ran out the back door to start airing everyone out of kennels, and when Boudreaux wasn’t laying on the back door mat, I knew in my gut something was wrong.

I walked around the side of the house to the front, and there he was, laying across the front door, protecting his people. We assume he had a heart attack in the night, and he went out with his boots on, doing his job.

I called Steven and he came home for us to say goodbye, and talk to the kids. We loaded him in the back of my car to take him to be cremated. In the midst of the grief, which hit me more than I thought it would, our kids provided the comedic relief in the form of griping about the smell in the car when they got in to go to school, not realizing everything going on back there. After I dropped them at school, I then drove around for a short while looking for somewhere that would take him for cremation. It was an “if you know, you know” kind of day- I cried all day, but all I had to say was that we’d lost our dearest dog, and people instantly understood and empathized. There are still days I tear up thinking about that big guy and probably always will- it’s hard to lose the world’s best dog.

He was a larger than life personality, and as we’ve said more times than we can count, just the best dog. We miss his big grin, and his lazy body laying upside in the dirt off the back porch. We miss his calming presence, and his faithful companionship walking up the driveway or sitting on the porch. We have his ashes to bury next to the lake when we move to the ranch so he can continue to do what he did best and loved- watch over us. They say you get one really good dog in a lifetime, and there will never be anyone better than him. We love you, Boudreaux, and we know you’re protecting Heaven and waiting for us to meet you there.

2 thoughts on “Boudreaux

  1. Boudreaux had an unforgetable face (that expression!). But I love your description of his personality.

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