We are having 70 degree weather in NJ today; a perfect opportunity to be outside and tackling some of the barn chores early. I thought it would give us a head start on what is often an exhausting task. I began by cleaning up after the sheep on a covered porch that leads into their stalls. It was peaceful work, and I was joined by the two royal majesties themselves. They seemed happy to have me out there with them, which had been a rare occurrence after I opened the shop.
At one point in the afternoon, my back started to bother me, so I sat down on an upturned watering bucket. It was the perfect height to sit and have two sheep ladies nuzzle me. They seemed to remember days in years past where I made a point to sit with them everyday so that when the time came to do something to them, like clip their hooves, or give them medicine, it was easy to get them to come near me. They would submit to me, like my dogs.
My dogs; I don’t know how to convey to you what they mean to me. Unless you have dogs of your own, it is impossible to explain the love I have for my dogs. I guess to say that they are members of my family is somewhat correct. Dogs are loyal, sensitive, and give unconditional love. They will lick your face after you swat them with a paper. For a minimal output of attention, dogs provide love and companionship beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
When Buddy came to our house in 1996, he was a 21st birthday to gift to my daughter from a long gone boyfriend. Friends of theirs had a Boston Terrier, so Jeni and whoever this guy was decided they would have one, too. They researched breeders and settled upon Buddy’s. I’ll never forget the day she brought him home for me to see. I was working in the yard when she pulled up and carried him in. He was unlike any Boston I have ever seen; back then, as a puppy, he was gangly and lean, all legs and ears. His eyes were slightly exopthalmic and seemed to operate separately. My husband and I secretly whispered that Buddy looked like Marty Feldman. I blurted out to her on that first encounter, “That’s what you have spent weeks looking for????” She said “Mom!!! You are going to hurt his feelings!”
I was hooked right away. Within days, he had taken over the house. One afternoon, while digging in the garden, he ran over to see what I was doing and kept looking at me, and when I uncovered his stash of soggy, buried Milk Bones, I understood why.
When my daughter’s relationship ended, as we knew it would, she came home crying because the boyfriend wouldn’t let her keep the dog without her forking over $400. My husband looked over at Buddy and said,’ Byyyyye Budddddy.’ I guess you had to be there, but we were laughing pretty good at that one. My son took pity on her and lent her the money. I am so glad he did.
For all intents and purposes, Buddy became my dog. Jeni moved out and we referred to him as our crack baby. (probably not funny). He took to shadowing me for the next 12 years. Buddy was a dignified dog, although he was also a male dog and liked to hump things for some reason. Any furniture we put at the curb was always labeled with the warning, ‘Used by dogs’. In the summer time, Buddy had his own wading pool. Also, Buddy watched TV. He hated boxing, or any violence, couldn’t tolerate watching other animals, and preferred English people to Mexicans. He loved CSI and House Hunters. We have two TV armoirs in our house that are both destroyed because of “Buddy jumping up on them, barking at the TV.
Buddy was also a fighter. He tangled with a fox and got scabies, which he promptly spread to everyone else in the house, oh that was fun, a skunk, with the result you’d expect, and then a buck, which is how he lost his eye. Every night at dusk, he would perk up and start sniffing all of the electrical sockets on the exterior walls of our house. He’d go crazy until we let him out. People have asked us why we fenced all six acres of our place and this is why. For Buddy.
About six months ago, we noticed that he was aging rapidly. Although he still enjoyed taking a walk with me around our property, it took him longer to recover. His breathing became more labored than usual. The vet said he had an enlarged heart and having gone through cardiac issues with other dogs, I was saddened by this news. I new then that we were on the clock. I had to take advantage of every second with him.
Poor Buddy was subjected to more aromatherapy than a manly dog should have to endure. I gave him Reiki when he would let me, tried putting him on a diet to no avail, and finally, just let him alone. His favorite thing to do was to sit next to Jim on the recliner and watch TV. He still loved his food.
Sunday morning, he took a drastic turn. I think he may have had a heart attack in the night. He seemed to be in pain, so I started giving him pain medication. By Tuesday, he was ‘third spacing’; fluid no longer able to be pumped by his heart settled in his legs and abdomen. His inards were squashed so he started to have digestive issues. I just knew it was traumatic for him to be sick in the house. He kept looking up at me with his one eye. My daughter was able to get over to see him and did a quick nursing assessment; she agreed that it didn’t look good.
Wednesday morning, I took my husband to the airport, and when I returned home, I knew it was time. Buddy kept looking at me as though asking for relief. I put his harness on and he was able to walk to the car. He did well in the car, insisting on sitting up so he could see out the window. He spent several minutes sniffing around the parking lot when we got to the vets. All those smells still inticing in spite of the pain. He kept looking at me. The vet was never his favorite place, but he wasn’t making a fuss.
The vet validated me the moment he saw Buddy. It only took a tiny bit of the drug to have the desired effect.
Oh, I hope it is true that there is an afterlife. I miss him so much.