I had a dog and his name was Buddy. It has been just under a year since he has passed and I miss him today as much as I did the day he crossed the bridge.
Buddy’s full name was Buddy Hermie Cole. He was a rescue dog from a no-kill shelter called Wayside Waifs. They said he was two years old. Our family never knew if that was true so we accepted it and chose a birthday for him of June 24th because it matched my daughter’s birthday. In the shelter his name was Hermie and we just could not stand for him to be called that the rest of his life so he was promptly renamed Buddy after a crawfish at my daughter’s school. There is no real logic to how a small child chooses a name so it stuck from that point on.
Buddy has the distinction of teaching my children to love dogs. For that matter, he has the distinction of teaching my wife to love dogs as well. My wife had one dog the whole time she was growing up. From birth to 38, just one dog. In my childhood it seems as if we always had anywhere from two to four dogs at a time. My children on the other hand were terrified of dogs. Any dog just petrified them beyond belief. My daughter had a bad experience with dogs when she was a toddler. I am guessing my son learned that dogs weren’t to be trusted from her. I’ll never know but I do know Buddy changed all that from day one.
Buddy was a mixed breed, a mutt if you will. We will never know what breeds he was and it really doesn’t matter. Maybe a little beagle mixed in with terrier but it’s not important where a family members background lies as long as they are loved. Buddy was loved greatly.
Buddy had a temperment like me. If he was in a place he wanted to be, it was best to let him be. He could be finicky but yet loving in the next moment. He was protective but also welcoming. No one was allowed to walk on the sidewalk behind the house without his protective bark but you could walk in the front door to a wagging tale and happy jowls. Buddy wasn’t one to settle for an ordinary dinner. It had to have its own way of being prepared otherwise Buddy had no intention of pretending to enjoy. And, afterwards, you would know you had prepared it well as he rolled on the floor and rubbed his snout back and forth as if to say “I have dined on the best dog food on earth.”
Buddy never cared for some things a lot of dogs do. He had to be in the right mood for a chewstick. He did not care for the water at the lake we visited quite often. He did not enjoy car rides one tiny bit. And there are many things he did not like that many dogs do not like such as fireworks, or thunderstorms or even the threat of a simple rain. He was a weather canine. You could tell like clockwork if a rainstorm was anywhere within a ten mile radius because Buddy knew. And when he knew, he made his way to the basement, to his favorite corner, tucked as far from those clouds as he could. That is just how he was.
Buddy was my buddy. He slept next to my bed every night curled up in a ball in his little soft bed. As we went to bed each night, he would follow me up to our room. As I’d settle in my bed, Buddy would settle in to his and give that long puppy dog sleepy sigh so many dogs do as they settle in for a long nights sleep. It was comforting to know my buddy was nearby.
Buddy wasn’t perfect. No dog ever is. He had his foibles. He had his quirks. But he was a member of our family and, just like aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, we accept our family for the oddballs they are. Buddy had an accident or two here or there. He had a desire to attack his own sleeping bed during the day and we would often find it out in the middle of the floor at night. His oddest feat would be to choose one shoe, and only one lonely shoe, and drag it out to the hallway landing at the top of the stairs. It was never chewed on. Just politely moved and laid there as a reminder to us that when we were gone, this was his castle.
Buddy’s illness seemed to come on quite quickly. But we all know that cancer never comes on that fast. It grows insidiously inside a living being until its tentacles have reached too far. Dogs can’t tell us when they hurt, or when they are sad, or when they feel something inside them isn’t quite right. And so it grew until one day it was too late and I was left with no choice but to let my Buddy go. I sat there with him that day because I had always vowed that I would not let him be alone on that day should it happen. And since that day had come, I fulfilled that promise to my friend.
I felt, I am sure, as many people do that I betrayed my furry friend. And in my heart and soul I know what had to be done by this caring, loving veterinarian had to be done so that Buddy did not suffer anymore. But it is so hard to make that decision for another living creature and especially one you love so dearly. Buddy had touched my soul in so many ways over the years. And a year later, my soul is still touched by a little brown dog that meant so much to me that I chose to let him cross that rainbow bridge. I think about him almost every day.
Dogs love unconditionally. Their owners are not truly owners but rather companions in life. Dogs know when we hurt, when we are happy, when we are playful, when we are upset and when we are just ready to relax. Their playful licks guide us back from doldrums when we need it most. The wagging tail tells us “welcome home” with no questions asked. They understand us humans better than we understand each other.
Buddy crossed his paws. It was his trademark. It was what made us notice him as we walked past his cage that day in the shelter. A happy dog sitting in a high kennel with his front paws crossed as if he didn’t have a care in the world. It was like he was calmly waiting for us, his heros, his future owners. He knew we were coming. Just waiting, with paws crossed, for his new companions to pick that aisle on that day. And we did, pick that aisle, on that day.