He lost his home when the divorce turned sour. I was three when my mother and I were displaced to live with my grandparents. It was no place for a German shepherd, and I was crushed to leave him behind with friends a couple of doors down. I asked to see Bo every day. And we visited often, but not enough.
He was too smart to be kept in a cage, and so he made a frequent habit of breaking free and showing up at my grandparents’ house many miles away. He would always find me, and someone would always take him back.
At night, I asked my mom to tell bedtime stories about The Adventures of Jake and His Good Dog Bo. Some of them were true; the time he saved my life, or the time he accompanied me as I walked the countryside as a toddler when my father was supposed to watch me. Then, there were the imaginative stories of the things we’d do in the future when we were finally reunited.
I would often lay awake and think of him. One night, I noticed three stars aligned outside my bedroom window. It was uncanny: a collar. Then I noticed his nose. His ears. His eyes. Every night from then on, I’d fall asleep with Bo watching over me from the stars.
Fearful of the unaccompanied German shepherd that frequently trotted across their property, neighbors began to complain. It was decided that it would be best for Bo to live on the family farm up in Pennsylvania, which was three hours away by car.
It wasn’t feasible to visit. I consoled myself with a vision of him running free on several acres of farmland, and the thought that I could see him in the night sky. I remember the day the phone rang. A group of road workers on I-83 saw a German shepherd trotting through their construction zone, with high-speed highway traffic on either side. He was heading south, back to me. They greeted him, made some phone calls, and took him back up to the farm. It even made the paper.
Some months later, I came home from school eager to show my mom what I did in class. Our assignment was to make a wish and write about it. She was on the phone when I walked in, so I quietly interrupted to show her my drawing. It was me and Bo playing in front of our new house. More than anything, I wished for Bo to come back and live with us. On the other end of the line, my aunt had just shared the news that Bo was hit by a semi on the road next to the farm and had died on the scene.
Almost 30 years later, I still see Bo watching over me from the night sky. His constellation, with his attentive eye and three-starred collar, will always guide me in ways Orion and his belt never could.