No one, including me, would describe me as an animal lover. Yet, how to explain the depth of sorrow I felt when Buddy died? Bud was our 12-year-old Terrier cross. His death has left a break in our routine and a hole in our hearts.
Because Hilary, now 20, was afraid of dogs as a little girl we chose to get a dog. We responded to a classified ad. His owner brought him to Andrew “on spec.” She must have felt sure of a sale because she brought his Sylvester plush toy, brush, comb, towel and shampoo. Needless to say it was a one way trip for Bud because it was love at first sight.
We declined an autopsy but the vet suspects cancer because of a mass in his abdomen detected post-mortem. We are so grateful he was only seriously ill for about 24 hours. We were spared the end-of-life, to-treat-or-not-to-treat decisions. Roy and I never articulated our feelings about heroic measures. I wouldn’t have wanted to artificially extend his life with prescriptions or procedures, with hopes or promises. Luckily it wasn’t our decision to make.
When the clinic called to say Bud had died”?a scant hour and a half after he was admitted”?we knew we had to get to Hilary. We drove into Edmonton to bring her home to begin what would be, for all of us, hours of crying, looking at photos, remembering.
The evening news had a temporary distracting effect as we contemplated the Michael and Liana White lead story. But no distraction was lasting enough to ease the sorrow or erase the memories. We each found our own way to deal with our grief. I wrote an email announcement to send to friends and family while Hilary looked on and sobbed. Roy disappeared outside to begin building Buddy’s casket. He would be buried near the spruce trees on the way to my studio, with his favourite bed, his ratty old plush mouse and squirrel, his quilt and of course Sylvester. He loved to go to the studio, find a sunbeam and sleep as I painted.
At only 14 pounds, Bud was small in size, but huge in impact—an eager little face greeting us at the door, loving us unconditionally. Well-behaved, good-natured, he had his own plush toys that he happily disemboweled. Only once did Barbie lose an arm—not enough meat on those bones!
We find comfort in remembering some of his antics. Being so big and brave in the corral… until the calves spotted him, that is. Or him tap, tap, tapping Roy on the knee during meals because he knew he was a soft touch. Or watching him spin in happy, little circles when he knew a truck ride was in store. Or watching him eat red peppers or ice cold watermelon.
We trust he’s gone to doggie heaven where the treats are always tasty, the beds are always soft, and there is no pain… and all that new territory to mark. A great twelve years, dear Bud, from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission