Everyone who has loved and lost a dog knows how it feels. Chantelle Hildreth in Once in a Lifetime Dog: My Borisangel tells a touching story of her Borzoi dog Boris that has accompanied her all the way through her journey into adulthood. Boris, the Russian wolfhound, was her companion and best friend; he was her study partner at law school, her backbone in her further work and marriage, and even in her pregnancy.
It is a true love story, a story of unconditional love, and it’s also the heartache of loss. The book is full of both humor and sorrow. “I laughed and cried through this wonderful love story about a woman and her dog, - says one of the readers, storysmith8, on Amazon. - A skillfully woven memoir - the deep connection between these two beings is the thread that pulls us from chapter to chapter of a woman's life. This story is rich, beautiful and entertaining. Be sure to read the chapter about the rats!”
A reputable book reviewer Cy B. Hilterman lives about 2400 feet in the mountains of west-central Pennsylvania. He and his wife Mary love “the easy style of country living”, and they both love dogs. This is what Cy thinks about Once In A Lifetime Dog, My Borisangel by Chantelle Hildreth:
This story is an excellently told one written by a woman who adores her large "sight hounds" as they are known by. They are Russian wolfhound's or, as Chantelle's preference for calling them "Borzoi" that quickly became her favorite pet once she saw one. The ultra beauty and grace of these huge dogs overtook her life and all she would have on her mind until she decided to obtain one was the "sooner rather than later" that would bring this dog into her home and life. When most of us have a pet or more, we generally love the animal and show our affection by petting, hugging, playing with it in various ways, walking it, feeding it, trying to have it get enough exercise, and maybe an occasional kiss. We usually, if it is a dog or cat, allow it to sleep in the same rooms as us and maybe even in our own bed. We do all we can to keep it healthy by watching its diet, taking it to a veterinarian when it doesn't seem to be acting in the right way and Chantelle did all of these. Chantelle had several other dogs in her life as she grew up and became an animal lover, mostly loving dogs.
After searching animal shelters and breeders, "Boris" fell into Chantelle's life. He was born in 1995 and was 13 months old when she brought him home. Boris was a very active 146-pound dog and seemed to be as affectionate of Chantelle as she was of him. Some logistics had to be reconfigured for the big boy to sleep and run around, as he loved to do. During the time that Chantelle had Boris she also had a boyfriend who she married shortly, a very active mother and father who shared her love for large dogs, especially Boris, and she taught college courses part-time. It became hard to leave Boris to go anywhere and do anything without him being there since, in her heart and mind, he was with her all the time anyhow! As I read the book I wondered if Chantelle loved her husband, Foster, or Boris more since she showed so much attention and care towards Boris. Sorry Chantelle!
Eventually Chantelle got pregnant, still taught, and still would not ease off of her activities with Boris. When she and Foster had to work the parents would board Boris since they had dogs too. Boris fit right in with their dogs. When Boris seemed sick or out of sorts, Chantell also did. He would go to the veterinarian if he showed any distress. As Chantelle's pregnancy advanced, she tried to maintain the same activities with Boris all the while trying to find a new house they could purchase and start preparing that home for Boris and the new baby girl they would soon have.
Boris broke his hind leg one day while running towards Chantelle. She was heartsick. This presented many problems; how to get a huge dog to the veterinarian including getting him in a vehicle that could get close enough to where he fell with the break and, how bad was the break. After examination the veterinarian decided he needed some screws placed in his leg since the joint was shattered. After surgery and a short stay in the clinic, they had to find a way to get Boris home and how they would move him around to relieve himself, feed him, keep circulation going through his body, and let him know he is so loved. I think that entire family did so much to assist in the care of Boris. Boris showed little signs of improving even though the family made a sling for him that permitted them to move him for exercise. Several trips had to be made to the veterinarian and the clinic when Boris showed more distress. Eventually Boris was in so much pain and at his young age for his breed, a decision had to be made to try to do more for him or let him be out of his misery.
As I have said, I think at times Chantelle loved Boris more than humans. He was her closest attachment and had been during the years he was healthy. I did enjoy the book but I personally felt that far too much money was used in the many health aides needed to keep Boris in good condition.
As a side note, I am a dog lover. My wife and I lost our two dogs this past year. Duchess was a sheltie type dog, brown and white. She was over thirteen years of age. She suffered a stroke and after several months of coddling her she returned to an almost normal routine but the few exceptions to the norm is what made us watch her more. Finally one day she started going in circles seemingly not knowing where she was or what she was doing. My wife took her to the back dog area where she continued running in circles, crashing into the fence. This was too much suffering. At her age we knew it was her time to go. The other dog was my buddy. Moose was a 135-pound German shepherd who we always called our gentle giant. A better watchdog and protector you couldn't find. He was deteriorating every week with his arthritis and was having extreme problems, then pain when he tried to get up or move. It hurt us so much but we could not let him suffer. He was over eleven years old, a good life for a large dog. They are both buried at the end of our property in our "Pet Cemetery". So Chantelle, as much as I loved these two dogs, my wife and I knew it was time. It hurts and you know that.
There are not so many books about such a wonderful dog breed like Borzoi, and there are not so many good books about dog's love. Once In A Lifetime Dog, My Borisangel by Chantelle Hildreth was published a few years ago but you still can get it on Amazon to read about Borzoi, and about love.