Buddy

My family never had dogs while I was growing up and as an adult I felt that owning one would be more work than its worth. My wife Linda, on the other hand, grew up with various family dogs and has always been a dog-lover. It wasn’t long after we were living together that the subject was broached. I was more than reluctant, but in the interest of marital compromise, agreed to tolerate a canine in our house. She went to the SPCA and brought home a Newfoundland/Labrador crossed puppy and named him Buddy.

Often to my chagrin and occasionally to my amusement, Buddy went nearly everywhere that we did and through prolonged exposure I began to actually enjoy his company”?most of the time. When Linda and I were planning a hiking trip into grizzly habitat I felt strongly that Buddy should not come along, as I know of instances where dogs took after grizzlies only to bring the snarling beast right back to their owners when they discovered that grizzlies don’t run away like a black bear will. Linda disagreed and won out in the end. My concerns were not abated when Buddy chased a black bear up a tree even before we began to climb into the alpine where the grizzlies reside. Once in the alpine, he chased a small herd of caribou around the hills, I just shook my head and rechecked my rifle.

It appeared that my worst fears were about to be realized when, a few days into our hiking trip, Linda, Buddy and I rounded a curve of the mountain and walked right into a grizzly of about 4 years. I thought that the dog would run straight for it but to my surprise, he sat shivering with fear beside my leg (this is quite telling of animal instincts, as Buddy had never seen a grizzly before this incident). I quickly put a cartridge into the chamber of my .375 H&H Sako and aimed at the bear that was 40 yards away from us”?just a few jumps for a grizzly. I spoke loudly to it and hoped that, learning we were human, it might move off rather than charge. After long minutes of seeming indecision, it made up its mind and moved away, stopping every several yards to throw a backward glance at its lost meal potential.

I was quite impressed by Buddy’s instincts that day and years later they proved invaluable to us. Linda, Buddy and I were spending the night in my father’s rustic dwelling while he was away to Vancouver. It was winter and the heat was supplied by an airtight wood burning stove. I stoked the fire before retiring and we were soon all fast asleep. Sometime in the night, I awoke as if drugged, shaking off sleep as Buddy whimpered and licked at my hand. I fumbled for the flashlight beside my bed and turning it on, found that I could see nothing but a pale streak of grey light emitting from its end. The room was entirely full of smoke. I woke Linda and the three of us stumbled coughing from the dwelling and into the crisp night air.

I later found that the chimney had become completely choked with creosote and the smudged fire had belched all of its smoke into the house. I truly believe that, were it not for Buddy, my father’s house would have become a tomb for my wife and I. Buddy passed on in 1995 and we still miss him greatly. We have owned several dogs since then but none could hold a light to Buddy. Recently we have acquired a purebred Newfoundland who we have named Buck and I believe that my family has finally found a worthy successor for our Buddy. Buck is presently ten months old, 110 pounds, and makes a wonderful teddy-dog for our children.

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