My favorite literary character is Boo Radley from To Kill A Mockingbird. He is the agoraphobic hermit who watched over Jem and Scout, venturing out only once to save their lives.
I looked from his hands to his sand-stained khaki pants; my eyes traveled up his thin frame to his torn denim shirt. His face was as white as his hands, but for a shadow on his jutting chin. His cheeks were thin to hollowness; his mouth was wide; there were shallow, almost delicate indentations at his temples, and his gray eyes were so colorless I thought he was blind. His hair was dead and thin, almost feathery on top of his head.
This is who Garret became, my Boo Radley.
The day I found him living under a dock at the farm, barely able to stand he was so weak.
All 33 lbs of him on May 9, 2015. Heartworm positive, chronic pneumonia and a disgusting skin condition yanked $2500 out of my piggy bank just the first month. He was promptly put on Trupanion health insurance!
My vet back in the day theorized he'd been used as a bait dog by dog fighters because of all of his scars and infected lesions. He'd always hated rough housing and would shriek if Cole tried to play with him. PTSD Garrett.
If only they could talk: he could tell us how he ended up with a little bullet in his back.
Garrett was the most appreciative, quiet boy.
Deprived his whole life, food became his favorite adventure.
Tomato thief on the garden:
The original Three Amigos:
Cole and I were still busy trying to complete our runs across America and we gained another travel companion.
For a guy who jumped on the dining room table and tried to break out a window his first time in a house and riding backwards in a car for over a month, he became an expert traveler. He and Peter trekked through 27 states.
Acadia National Park in Maine.
Detente was more his schtick than bagging peaks and logging miles on trails, but he always gave 100%
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Garrett had seen it all.
The boys at Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia.
Garrett patiently put up with Cole and I reveling in Idaho snow.
Back at home, he became my work buddy. His favorite spot was the front drive of the barn where he could survey his territory.
Or the front seat of the utility vehicle where he could leisurely watch over me while I worked.
Nary a bark out of his lips, he was the quiet protector. For a guy who hated confrontation, he was always the first to step up to protect the family unit.
During a Nordic ski trip in Idaho, a dog ran into my lines and jumped Cole. In the scrum, Peter ended up hog tied in the lines and Garrett jumped the attacking dog and grabbed it by the throat, requiring some persuasion to release him. We left more than a few drops of blood in the snow that day.
Later that year, a neighbor's pit bull strayed up to the house and attacked Cole. I beat it mercilessly with a shovel to no avail, before I knew it, Garrett and Peter were in the fray. Outnumbered, it ran away. I knew I'd found my Boo Radley
Hallowe'en of this year, I noticed something was off with Garrett. Everything pointed to a problem with his back.
I made him a recovery area where he could still be part of the pack, but he wouldn't be able to jump or run. Something told me it was more than a slipped disc. I started insisting on an MRI (remember he has better insurance than I have!). The vet school neurology dept. refused, backlogged in cases for a month when I presented him with non acute symptoms.
Undeterred, I scoured the the Southeast for an MRI appointment. Peter's physiotherapist, Liz, came through with an appointment with a colleague 4 hours from here. Nov 20th. I rented an actual church bus for 3 days and planned on taking my pack with me to Huntsville.
By Sunday before the appointment, Garrett had taken a turn for the worse, he was not walking and I brought him to Auburn once again. This time, he was admitted as an emergency to the neurology department. He would be fast tracked for an MRI.
For over a week, I'd promised him I would find a way to make the pain end, he wasn't going to be made to wait for the next available appointment in late December. It was my turn to fight for my Boo Radley.
This is the last picture of Garrett while we waited at the vet school. The images basically confirmed he was riddled with multiple myeloma
Will you take me home?
Only words spoken by Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Sometimes the shittiest thing to do is keep a promise. My Baby G is over the Rainbow Bridge now.
Garrett Boo Smith 2010- Nov 16, 2020