Midwest Today, April/May 1996
C O M M E N T A R Y
A VERY SPECIAL BUDDY
A Tribute to Man's Best Friend...and One Unforgettable
By LARRY JORDAN
Anyone who knows me knows I have a real fondness for dogs. Recently
I lost a special pal. Buddy was 12-1/2 years old. His mother was
a golden retriever, but he was black, and smaller -- so I don't
know what mix he was. I had answered an ad in the paper when I
lived in Florida, and as I walked up to where a mother dog had
her pups, this was the only one who paid me any attention. He
ran to greet me -- a pint-sized bundle of love -- and I knew this
was the dog for me.
He was my friend for more years than I've known most people. He
depended on me and uncomplainingly accommodated our moves over
thousands of miles, my fluctuating fortunes, and living circumstances
that were at times unfairly stressful for him.
Through it all, he retained a happy disposition. He was obedient
and loyal, and I regret that too many times I took him for granted.
Buddy provided some stability to my life -- a touchstone to which
I could return again and again for renewal, reassurance and comfort.
There were some close calls. When my home was broken into, he
disappeared for about eight days. I was sure I had lost him then,
but I spotted him on a corner somewhere and he ran to the car
to hop in when he saw me.
He had a bad reaction to some medication and had a frightening
seizure -- but minutes after an emergency trip to the vet, he
was outside ready to play in the spray from the garden hose.
One Christmas after I had received a "care" package
of baked goods from my mother in Iowa, Buddy helped himself to
a whole box of fudge while I was in the shower. Chocolate is supposed
to be dangerous to canines, but it didn' t phase him one bit.
Back when I used to enjoy a cocktail, I foolishly left Buddy alone
with an orange juice and vodka as I went to answer the phone.
He slurped it down and sat there with what I swore was a smile
on his face.
A couple of years after I got Buddy, another dog entered my life.
Pete, or "Petey" as I've called him, and Bud were like
brothers. For over ten years they were daily companions.
The most difficult ordeal, I'm sure, was when both dogs were held
hostage for over a year and a half in Florida while a protracted
wrangle with an unscrupulous kennel operator unfolded. They say
dogs forget their masters after awhile, but not these two. The
night we were reunited they were overjoyed with excitement and
Buddy was fond of teasing his friend Pete, they got into their
share of squabbles, and Buddy invariably acquiesced, but throughout
the years, I think they depended on each other.
When Buddy died, Petey was utterly lost. He would perk up his
ears and look around at the mention of Buddy's name. He didn'
t eat well, and spent hours howling in evident despair.
Others have remarked on the special communion which can exist
with "man's best friend." Buddy could read my moods
and gestures, and knew exactly how to respond. We had our special
signals -- such as the distinctive-sounding "yap yap yap"
that alerted me when Pete was into mischief. When Buddy suspected
a stranger's motives, he warned me of that, too.
Gladys Taber, a favorite author and chronicler of country life,
was devoted to dogs. "I suspect with people, even those who
love us and whom we love, there is always a reservation,"
she wrote. "Dogs have none, they purely love. [They] never
criticize...never have recriminations. A dog figures you can really
do no wrong, though you may be misguided now and then. For me,
I would never wish to return to a home that had no wildly wagging
tail at the door.
"They have the will to live and live as happily as possible.
They can die of grief, but prefer not to.
"To really deserve the love of a dog is a good goal. The
patience with queer human decisions they cannot understand, the
all-forgiving wags and licks after being abandoned -- these are
priceless. People have to be pretty nice to justify the way their
dogs love them."
Dogs are sensate creatures, who are given a range of emotions
much like ours -- the ability to feel attachment, loneliness,
anxiety, sadness, jubilation, boredom, bewilderment and more.
Yet a barrier exists to their complete understanding. I couldn't
tell Pete, for instance, why his friend wasn't coming home.
He felt loss, but he didn't understand.
The last night, when Buddy's sudden lethargy became apparent,
he nuzzled me and put his head in my hands. As I petted him and
recalled aloud the times we had shared, I looked into those big
brown eyes, so gentle, warm and attentive -- the same eyes the
next day that looked at me knowingly in the car on the way to
the vet, as if to say "Friend, this is my time to leave you."
He appeared so sad and quietly resigned, I am convinced he
Those of us who are believers look forward to a heavenly reuniting
with lost loved ones. But Scripture tells us that with animals,
their bodies and souls cease to exist at death. There is finality.
We will never see them again.
A friend says that when her parents' dog died they grieved for
days. They couldn't sleep, they didn't eat, they were in such
a state of mourning that she feared for their health.
I was surprised by the depth of my sorrow. A flood of memories
washed over me, of things I hadn't thought about in years.
I found out later Buddy must have been in pain, but he was too
stoic to show it. He also had cataracts, but you'd never know
it because he somehow adapted.
Still sensitive to my feelings, he had waited to let go until
I had gone home, (I'd been reassured by the vet that he'd be okay),
and thus he died quietly alone. He seemed determined to end his
life giving as little trouble as he could.
I'll always miss you, my dear Buddy.
A Postscript from the Author:
Ever since this article appeared, I have received countless letters
from people who have a story to tell about the loss of a beloved
pet. This dog was so special to me that here in 1999, three years
later, I cannot see Buddy's picture or re-read this story myself
without a lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes. I
STILL miss you, Buddy. And you'd be happy to know that your friend
Pete has been a real comfort. He is now 14, and every day with
him is precious.
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