Friday, 11 September 2009

Boris and Bhuna

Friends for Life

Shaggy dog stories are usually soppy, so if you don't do soppy, don't read this post.

When Boris first came to live in Valley's End,
Bhuna was already here. Boris was 4 years old
and Bhuna just eighteen months.
Bhuna and Boris had had very different lives.

Bhuna had always been a pet, he was untrained,
spoilt and obedience was not something he had ever come across. His name is the Ethiopian name for coffee, his coat was coffee coloured.

Boris was a foundling, picked up by a dog warden in the Essex countryside;
he was sick, starving; he had a leg injury and was totally cowed. It became apparent that he had been trained as a working dog, a gun dog, in fact.

Boris knew every command and followed it
instantly. In fact, he was pathetically pleased
to obey. He had obviously been harshly treated,
he was ever ready to cringe and cower; when we first took him on, he was so afraid of men that he peed himself every time his new master spoke to him in a loud voice.

He had congenital eye disease, which must have been the reason for his having been abandoned; no breeder could get away with a visible defect like that; nobody would buy expensive Labrador puppies who would more than likely pass the condition on.

Within a month or so, after he'd come to us, Boris was fine; he had an operation on his eye, which stopped him going blind, he had put on weight and his fur was back to normal. He became a happy dog; also a very handsome one, he was pure black Labrador.

Valley's End has a castle on a hill, a river round it and a field between the two. All the local dogs are exercised here; this is where Boris and Bhuna first met and where Boris instantly set about training the unruly Bhuna.

Bhuna's master was delighted; we met up frequently, one or the other of us taking both dogs out for long walks; they became inseparable. In fact, Bhuna frequently turned up in our garden on his own, having jumped over the garden gate; Boris was too well-behaved to leave his territory, but he was always ready to welcome Bhuna. The two dogs were more like boys than dogs.

I said that this was going to be a soppy story, it's going to get even soppier.

On one of our long walks we went up into the woods above the valley. The dogs were roaming freely, both noses in the same hole, both of them tugging at the same fallen branch or chasing the same animal scent. They disappeared, came back, disappeared again.

Until, about an hour into the walk, there was only Bhuna; at first we paid no attention, walking on, thinking Boris would turn up eventually. Bhuna started to behave strangely, walking backward in front of us, stopping, looking at us, then walking behind us, stopping again. He did this several times. ending up behind us, following very slowly, standing still in the middle of the path, looking at us, then half turning, looking back over his shoulder.

We finally got the message. Bhuna was telling us Boris was missing, he was in trouble.

The moment we turned back, Bhuna made for the steeply wooded slope ascending above the path and started to climb, all the time making sure we were following, stopping every so often to let us catch him up, finally leading us to where Boris lay, trapped by a huge spike attached to a branch which had gone deep into his paw. There was no way that Boris could have limped down the hill on three legs, every move he made drove the spike deeper into his paw, with the branch dragging on it.

As soon as we reached Boris, Bhuna stood to one side, then ran off, totally unconcerned again.

Boris took no lasting harm; we managed to remove the spike, performed some first aid with spit and a handkerchief and slowly made our way back down the hill. The Vet cleaned out the wound and very soon all was well.

Boris died of cancer when he was eleven years old; until then the dogs remained staunch allies. Within the year we adopted Benno, another black Labrador, also a rescue dog. We all thought Bhuna and Benno could pick up where Bhuna and Boris had left off but Bhuna never took to Benno. The two of them growled at each other every time they met.


  1. You got me Friko. I do love animals, especially dogs. I love stories like that, especially when it turns out good . It takes the edge off worrying about more serious things. Thank you, Friko

  2. Oh I love labs and retrievers. That was a wonderful story. With 6 kids we had lots of dogs over the years, most of them ran into the highway and were never seen again. Sometimes very sad kiddos. Blessings

  3. Another well-turned tale, Friko. I like the part when Bhuna--having done his job--walked nonchalantly off. There's a Buddhist story about two monks meeting a woman at a mud puddle in the street. One monk carried her over it, but she was quite ungracious and rude. The other monk was still complaining about her a mile down the road. The first monk said, "I put her down an hour ago; why are you still carrying her?" Thtat ability to let go is such a gift. xx

  4. friko - that's an amazing story and one that's told in many places - an animal that helps another - it's incredible!!!!! i love that you took in a hurt animal and made it whole again. i love that!!! steven

  5. Ah Friko: How to melt a heart - with a story of love, doggie love. Seems like no other dog could replace Boris in Bhunna's heart.

    When we lost our golden retreiver, I though my heart had ripped in two. I knew I was besotted by her, but not until she died prematurely did I really understand the place she held in my heart.

    I hope you have stories of Benno to share with us.

  6. Lovely. I don't do soppy unless it's a true story of animal love/loyalty - than I say 'bring it on!'
    We once had a Bassett Hound, Cuddles, that so loved my sister's lab-cross Smokey, that they were inseperable. Cuddles would, given the leash, take Smokey for walks through the neighbourhood.

  7. What a wonderful story, Friko! I love reading such stories of perfect animal loyalty. I hope your Benno is doing wonderfully and has found his own doggie friend... Hugs, Silke

  8. I'm a sucker for soppy, and if it's about dogs I lose all my critical faculties. So it's probably meaningless for me to say I loved that beautifully told story. (I had to peek at the end to make sure it had a happy outcome.)

  9. I am also a dog lover, and your story was wonderful, Friko. The friendship of Bhuna and Boris, the episode of the spike in Boris's paw, all of it, and you told it so well. Isn't it so sad the dogs live such short lives? My dog Maxi was abandoned and I saw him running across a highway near Avila. Luckly the highway was not busy. I managed to stop the car and get him. He had a broken paw, and was skin and bone. That was 5 years ago, he is such a great dog. See, we all have soppy stories and we love them.

  10. What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it. A x

  11. Hi again Friko
    Just paid real attention to your book list on the sidebar - loved Old Filth and have two more Gardams to read. Also loved Poisonwood Bible, House of the Spirits (and so many others by Allende, interest sparked by a trip to Peru and Chile last year).

  12. Thanks for your comment, Friko. Yes, those are all my paintings, and in the previous entry too. So glad you knew Sharon Olds, I did not know she was an idol for feminists, but I can see why. As a woman I love her poems, they speak to me.

  13. Soppy - yes - but also delightful. A pity that Bhuna and Benno don't get on. This happened to us when a dog we had died and we replaced her with another as company for the remaining dog. The two never acknowledged each other's presence in the house.

  14. First I must admit the tale brought tears to my eyes.
    Two labs connected to each other by a bond so deep that once death separated them no other dog could take his place.
    We shared our lives with a yellow Lab named Duchess for 14 years before she left us for what I hope was a place that someday we shall be reunited.
    Thankyou for sharing the story of Bhuna and Boris.

  15. What a wonderful story of devotion. Bhuno knows that no other dog can replace Boris, but in time he may become closer to Benno. I'll bet if Benno gets in trouble Bhuno will help him.

  16. ...speachless...

    Thank you. A wonderful weekend to you.

  17. Great story. I am not so sure Bhuna will ever take to Benno! sometimes it is just like that!

  18. Hi Friko. I read your story to my little Angelina. She gave it the nod of approval.

  19. Great story, objectively well told, though with obvious feeling.

  20. Oh my goodness. First off, thank you for coming over to my blog. And Secondly, thank you for this story. I am sitting here in tears. We lost our almost-7-year-old Labbie this January (Meat Pie, of Meatpieandluna). I am constantly tripping over myself trying to get in the way of people and their Labs. Yes. I want another one, and at this time my husband is in "wait and see" mode (I have never experience that mode!). Yes. Your blog is now bookmarked as well. and I will be reading backwards....

    Again, thank you. xoxo

  21. I can't think of a nicer story to round off the weekend. I did enjoy looking at your sidebar too, lot to nod at. Have you read Barabar Kingsolver's 'Pigs in Heaven'?, actually I enjoy all her books. And Kate Atkinson - well, lots there to go on about so I'd better stop!

  22. Oh, just spotted 'Middlemarch' too - what a belter! Sorry I'm shattered after a long run so spelling/punctuation/trying to make sense have all gone by the wayside!

  23. Lucy - thank you, glad the story took your ind off.

    QMM - oh dear, that was very unfortunate.

    Margaret - An excellent reminder, wish i could act like that.

    Steven - thank you, wouldn't you?

    Bonnie - I sometimes think i love animals more than humans.

    Pondside - Another 'Ahhh' story. talk about soppy!

    Silke - Benno is fine, thank you.

    20th C Woman - not meaningless at all, that you so much.

    Cloudia - Aloha!

    Celeste Maia - Another soppy dog story, there are a lot of them about, I'm glad to say.

    Wipso - thanks for dropping by.

    Arosebyanyothername - thanks for your comment; yes, dogs can be just as contrary as people, I suppose.

    Miss Maddie's - Thank you. How sad your tale is.

    Darlene - thanks for your comment; I'm not so sure about the two of them ever getting close, though.

    robert - thanks a lot for your kind wishes.

    elizabethm - quite.

    Prospero - good, that's very important. say hi to Angelina for me.

    Dave King - thanks for the praise.

    swallowtail - I really hope you'll have another dog soon, go on, rescue one.

    ChrisH - thanks for your comments; no, I haven't read that one. thanks for prompting me. I'd be happy to discuss books for ever!

  24. It was a soppy one and I shed a tear, actually two. It was the way you wrote the story and the vivid images it evoked. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  25. What a lovely tail, er tale. Love the name Bhuna.

  26. A Cuban - Never took you for an admirer of soppy!

    Celtic Heart - Thanks a lot.

  27. Not soppy - uplifting. We hear a lot about dogs' loyalty to their humans, but not enough about their relationships with their own kind.

  28. When I Am Rich - Ahh, that's it, of course. Trust you to point that out.

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