I found out last week that one of my parents’ dogs passed a while ago. Rest in peace, little friend.
My parents got Buddy about 8 years ago. He was a shelter rescue. When we got him, he had an appallingly bad haircut – someone at the shelter just chopped off a great deal of his fur, including cutting into his tail-plumes. It was clear that even when his hair grew back out properly, he’d be a homely beast. Buddy was part cockerspaniel, part whodoneit. (If that didn’t make sense, try this – who done it?) The shelter told us he was 4-6 years old, but we figured he was more like 6-8 years old. He was overweight and out of shape, and probably had mild asthma. He also had seizures, which scared both Buddy and my parents’ other dog, Cody.
Buddy was chosen because the then-8 month old puppy, Cody, was annoying the pants off everyone and destroying things. We couldn’t exercise him enouth to tire him out – Cody was tireless and always wanted to play, all the time. It was clear that Cody couldn’t be left alone, and we hoped that by bringing another dog into the house, we could give him a way to work off his energy without chewing on everything.
Cody was always the favorite. Buddy wasn’t as cute, wasn’t as smart, and wasn’t as good with people. He smelled a little funky even when he was getting regular baths, and had gas that could clear a room. Buddy’s behavior made it clear that his former family had been both loving and abusive. He cringed any time someone reached for him, but if you sat on the ground he’d try to sit in your lap. Buddy was definitely the low man on the totem pole socially; Cody is a bit of a bully, and Buddy mostly let him rule the roost. Buddy occasionally snapped when Cody was being too much of a jerk, and he got back at Cody by stealing toys and taking them outside where they would get lost and wouldn’t be thrown for Cody to retrieve. Despite all the things Cody did to reinforce his alpha status (and any serious dog lover will tell you that alphas are jerks to other dogs), Buddy loved him so much that when they had to overnight at the vet hospital and were in separate cages, Buddy cut his nose trying to get to Cody. (Cody, on the other hand, only showed distress at being separated from Buddy if Buddy was taken somewhere and Cody was left at home. That is to say, Cody was jealous, not missing Buddy) My sister, well, she’s the shallow one in the family, and his looks and odor were enough to make her not like him at all.
But Buddy was a good dog in all the ways a dog can be good. He tried to do what he was told. He loved his people (though strangers stressed him out). He never jumped on people and rarely stole food, even when it was left in easy reach. If you started petting his belly, he would relax on his back, legs sprawled wide. If you stopped, he would start sneezing and wriggling to get your attention again. He would come over to you and lightly push his nose and then the rest of his head under your palm, hoping you would pet him. If you sat, he would come and lean against your feet. He would follow you out into the ocean past where he could reach because he wanted to be near you. When we first got him, and he was overweight and out of shape, he would gamely try to keep up on walks even though he was having trouble breathing. He would crawl into your lap and tremble during heavy thunderstorms. He would sit at attention in front of you, head tipped back so he could see you, ears flopped open (which earned him the nickname ‘batdog). He was kind and sweet and loved to cuddle. He recognized the goodness in my boyfriend; they spent much of their time together every time I brought my boyfriend back to visit my family.
In his last few months, it was clear that some kind of decline was going on. He would wander aimlessly for about an hour at a time, circling around the parts of my parents’ house that are open to the dogs, even going out into rooms that are typically forbidden to them if the gate wasn’t closed well. You could stop him, but he’d just start up again, moving around as if he was looking for something but going around the same places five times, ten, fifteen, before he finally could lie down. At the very end, his hind legs collapsed and he couldn’t walk; my parents gave him several days to recover, but it was clear that he was in pain. They took him to the vet and had him put to sleep. By our estimates, he lived somewhere between 14 and 16 years. 8 of those years were with us, and I like to think they were good years – years of people who petted him and loved him, two meals a day, daily walks, a dog companion, soft beds, cool tile to lay on in the summer and a thick pillow to cushion his old bones from the floor when it wasn’t so hot.
Rest well, Buddy. You’ve earned it. Good dog.