Saying Goodbye To Mr. Bojangles

Forever turning the record over.

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Hello anyone reading this. I realize I kind of just abandoned TTRO without saying goodbye. That wasn’t my plan but in 2017/2018 a few very bad things happened in my personal life, and I never did finish the redesign so I just stopped posting. I also started focusing more and more on being paid to write. Running your own site certainly has a lot of perks, but financially it became harder and harder to write here for free when I could pitch ideas to other publications for pay. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

The reason I’m returning today is because this site still does exist—I never let the hosting expire–and if you ever looked at the logo or clicked the contact page or followed me on social media you knew about Mr. Bojangles–he always was the logo of TTRO (even in the early years) and the mascot of my life. My absolute heart and soul. The greatest gift I ever gave to myself. If you were really lucky (and I really liked you) you might have even met him. He came into my life in the summer of 2006. I was in the midst of my first heartbreak, a deep depression that left me unable to eat, sleep or stop crying for weeks on end. I knew the only cure was to be with my childhood dog, but he was in his final years and my parents couldn’t bring him to Toronto to visit.

So even though I was a college student living in a dingy basement, I got the dog I had always dreamed of. As a kid I would stay up late and watch SNL (I’ve always had delayed sleep phase syndrome). Will Ferrell was at the height of his brilliance during those years and he had a recurring sketch with Molly Shannon called Dog Show that I was obsessed with. In it, he had a Pomeranian named Mr. Bojangles. From the moment I laid eyes on that dog I knew I would have one some day.

(You can watch all the episodes of Dog Show NBC has available at the following links organized by the SNL host that week, but Canadians need a simple free VPN plugin like Hola switched to a US location to unblock it since the internet still has such weird rules about countries and content. I just watched all of them for the first time since they originally aired in the late 90s, as I was never able to find them back when I got Mr Bojangles nor when I started blogging. Thankfully they’re still hilarious and now also comforting: Vince Vaughn, James Van Der Beek, Drew Barrymore, Heather Graham, Alan Cumming.)

If you combine the heart of a lion, the protective nature of a bear, the brain of a fox and the hustle of raccoon you get Mr Bojangles. It’s no surprise that he looked like some miniature blend of all these animals at various points in his life.

Bojangles saying goodbye to my childhood dog Comet on his final day.

Mr Bojangles developed an illness over a year ago, and after taking him to the vet they discovered the odd symptoms he was having were caused by Cushing’s disease. Because he was already almost 13, surgery was not an option, so the only way to treat was through pills and monitoring his blood work. Many dog owners in my situation choose not to treat it and just put their dog down right away because it’s quite expensive to treat, but there was no way I was going to give up on him. With regular care from the incredible team at Rose City Animal Hospital, he was able to have another full year of fairly healthy, active and happy life. And a year is a long time in dog years.

Last week, everything started to rapidly go down hill. He had been eating less and less since December, we had to switch his food to different brands several times trying to find one he would eat, sometimes feeding him by hand. But when he suddenly would no longer eat or drink water and was sick on an empty stomach we knew we were running out of time. The vet explained that at this point, his liver was failing and he was battling an infection that while we could spend a lot more money to figure out exactly what it was, even if we could cure the infection his liver was still in failure, so there was no point. To keep him around any longer was to let him suffer.

The first photo of him as a newborn babe (on the bottom).

On Tuesday February 11th he left me for good. We spent the last few days together doing all the things he loved to do–taking walks, making friends anywhere he went as he always did, giving kisses, napping, exploring, playing and eating all the people food he had desperately wanted his entire life, but for which I only ever allowed in those final days as I wanted him as healthy as possible. He was incredibly happy about this new development.

The night before he had to leave us, we were watching the AKC Dog Show, and when the Pomeranian was up they mentioned that poms exist purely as companion and therapy dogs, and that’s exactly what he always was for me. Therapy. There is no issue in my life that couldn’t be fixed almost immediately by seeing his little furry face, petting him, having him by my side. He would instinctively lick the tears off my cheeks when I was sad–like all dogs, his emotional intelligence was higher than that of most humans. He would always greet me with barks of pure joy begging me to pick him up and pet him no matter if I was gone for 2 minutes or 2 weeks. He would light up at the sight of his leash as he knew it meant one of his two favourite things: a walk or a car ride. The only thing he loved almost as much as his family was exploring the outside world–something I’ve never been quite as good at. Having him around forced me to try to embrace other people as effortlessly as he always did. When your dog still looks like a perfect puppy even in his old age everyone wants to stop and say hello.

He never judged me and always protected me, especially in the early days when I would pass out in my clothes after a night of partying.

His energy was boundless. He was the funniest, smartest, cutest dog I’ve ever known. He was literally fearless in the face of dogs 10x his size because to him there was no bad in the world, nothing worth being afraid of. His temperament was absolute perfection. Many dogs fear the vet (my childhood Sheltie certainly did) but Jangles was always happy to see a familiar face. Even in his last moments, he wasn’t afraid.

You know you have a special dog when the vet team is in tears and all the staff want to say their goodbyes to him as well.

The first night without him I looked up at the sky and for the first time in a long time I saw it filled with sparkling stars. I know it’s easy to see anything as a message in the midst of grief but I find myself less and less cynical as I get older.

That time he starred in a small indie short film and LIVED for it.

This will more than likely be the last post on TTRO, and it is fitting that it is about my baby. He was there throughout my entire 20s experiencing Toronto with me, and that is all this blog was ever about. Now that he’s gone I no longer want to redesign it and start fresh. I want to hold onto this exactly as it is, a memory of my life during the years he was with me. He sat by my side while I created Turn The Record Over, and slept by my feet while I wrote every post.

Right before Mr Bojangles took a turn for the worst, I finished watching The Good Place. If you’ve seen it, you probably cried as hard as I did at that ending. I feel like in some way I was being prepared for this goodbye by watching that finale. I’m not so sure I believe in a particular good or bad place for humans (lapsed Catholic over here), but for whatever reason I have no doubt there is a good place (and only a good place) for dogs. And Bojangles, Jangles, Bojangley, Jingle Jangles, BoJangaJangs, Baby Jangs, Sausage, Mini Bear, Baby Bear, and all the many other names he knew were his–is sitting at the head of the table.


JUNE 3rd 2006 – FEBRUARY 11th 2020