Buddy is the dog we all thought would live “forever,” even the vet. He seemed so indestructable. He ate things that would perf a weaker dog’s bowels or at least give other dogs a barf or poop-a-thon worthy of Jerry Lewis. He’s the dog who seemed to say, “Hey, how’s it going?” to us when we saw him at the Humane Society (whereas Trigger was the one who shouted and campaigned hard, “OOH!, Ooh, pick me! Pick me!”).
Things changed when I was about 12 weeks pregnant with my oldest son. Buddy, who had a bad case of “I can’t heeear you!” the minute he was in the yard, wouldn’t consider going outside without me, even when he had been inside all day while I was at work. His protectiveness amped up thereafter. He was always an excellent watch dog, patrolling the perimeter of the yard at good intervals (not too obsessively but enough that even the dimmest human could see that he was protecting the borders). When we walked on the canal and crossed paths with people who were homeless or looked even a little shifty, Buddy would bark at them when they approached and as they passed and would keep looking back at them, giving them a couple of extra barks for good measure. He had mastered the “I’m watching you” and the hairy eyeball look down pat, because he was always on the alert. After Max was born, Buddy rested next to the crib. When Max cried, Buddy alerted Trigger, who would come running to alert us, whining and causing a ruckus. Those dogs were quite a pair and an excellent team. We are so lucky that we meshed so well as a family, even after children came along.
The irony is that Buddy had stomach cancer and he was the dog who was so completely food driven. The only time he rejected food was when he was initially fitted for his hiking pack (Buddy and the Hiking Pack), even then he quickly gobbled up the treat after his initial chagrin and dismay. He ate so many things that we had to put food up high and far, far back because he was big and had a mean right hook. He even ate a stick of butter I had out, waiting to come to room temperature, and an entire giant chocolate bunny. That was the one time I was really worried, because when we came home he was laying on the floor, looking uncomfortable. I know chocolate can be deadly for dogs and we keep it up–in the excitement of the day that one was down a little too low; it was also one thing that remained in that dogs stomach–he didn’t get sick after that, he was just a little over-stuffed. The boys automatically held their food up high so that Buddy wouldn’t sample it. He wasn’t awful about stealing their food, but, occasionally, if they let their guard down he was all over it. He didn’t like dog toys they way Trigger did (Trigger really liked to desquawk the toys after loving on them for a little while, but he did love chew toys, in general). Buddy liked to chew and sometimes ingest people things, especially the boys writing instruments and toys. Try as we might to keep them out of Buddy’s reach he managed to find things. This meant a lot of barfing. He’s a full-body barfer, too, and loud. So, when he first started to show signs of being really sick it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. He often eats something he’s not supposed to, throws it up and then is all better. For about a month the barfing episodes came closer and closer together. We kept our hairy eyeballs on him, took him to the vet for tests and all the blood work came back fine. Anti-nausea pills and canned food were prescribed and he seemed better–for a few days. His descent came very quickly because after a few days of yummy wet food (he loved it so much that I’m not sure he really chewed it) he started to reject that as well, because now he was throwing up a couple of hours after eating. We took him for an ultrasound and that’s when they found he had an awful case of stomach cancer. Besides throwing up, however, he acted perfectly normal. He was patrolling the perimeter and yelling at the UPS guy the day he took his last trip to the vet. I think that’s when people try to hold on to the hope that their dogs will get better–everything else seems “fine.” It’s such a difficult thing to do. We had Buddy for 11 years. He was so loving, protective and comical.
It’s very, very quite around here. The silence is deafening, at times. Never thought you’d hear me say that–did you?
I miss his trotting around the house and yard, his barking, snuggling and begging. I miss seeing his sweet face through the window when I come home and his enthusiastic greetings. I miss our geriatric walks and how he would run into the kitchen whenever the fridge, microwave or package was opened. I miss having him by my side while I work at the computer and I expect him to bound around the corner at any given minute. It’s also strange to go to bed at night, without saying to Buddy, “Ready to go to bed?” and have him lead the way to his giant pillow that we called his doughnut.
Begging, again. He doesn’t look 12 nor does he look ill!
The ultrasound vet said that dog’s are so much more stoic and while they may feel the pain, they continue on like normal. To a certain extent, I think humans could take a page from the book of dog–they certainly live in the moment and forgive so easily.
Jon and I have been so fortunate because the 3 dogs we’ve adopted have all been so wonderful (not to say they don’t come with their issues, but who doesn’t?). I hope to have continued success in our future adoptions and will always have plenty of space in my heart for all of the dogs I encounter, even if I have to endure such sadness when it’s time for them to leave. To paraphrase Milton, you cannot have a heaven without a hell.