Buddy’s Story

The Shelter May/June 2012

I didn’t want another dog. I had two. Nahla an old cocker spaniel we rescued when she was three and Ollie. Ollie, our problem hound who loves our family and other animals but hates most humans. A knock on our door, heck even a bump in the kitchen sends Ollie into guard dog mode ready to attack anyone who dares enter our den. He stands guard on our stairs at night as if we are his sheep and he must protect us. Beautiful, proud, sometimes pain in the neck, Ollie. The thought of getting another dog after Ollie scared me.

One day, I saw a picture on Facebook. Big floppy ears. Loooong body. A photographer friend of ours took pictures of shelter animals. He posted a snapshot of a giant dog and the caption said something about him being the calmest beast he ever met. He was huge! I felt a knowing. I felt as if he was going to be ours except I didn’t want another dog. Eric mentioned seeing the picture. We joked about adopting him. Normally, I’m the go-getter in our family and Eric is the calm, let’s stop and think about this for days or even years, person. I insist, he resists. That’s the way it’s worked for 24 years. However, this time, even though I felt the dog would be ours I decided that if Eric really wanted him he was going to have to be passionate about adopting him. I waited which can be difficult for me. I figured if it was meant to be–it would be.

Eric asked his friend about the dog in the picture. His name was Buddy. He was five-years old. When Eric decided to go visit Buddy at the shelter we found out he had been adopted. Again I had this strange feeling. The phrase: It’s not over kept coming to mind. I let go. There was nothing I could do.

A few weeks later we received a call from our friend. Buddy had been returned to the shelter. The woman who adopted him lived in a third floor apartment and I suppose got tired of taking him up and down the stairs. Eric went to the shelter to see Buddy. I waited for his call telling me he was coming home with our new family member. Instead he came home disappointed. Eric had been told we couldn’t adopt Buddy because we had stairs in our home. I guess they were afraid of   potential hip problems due to Buddy’s size. We were shocked. Still, I kept thinking of the phrase: It’s not over. I let go.

Suddenly, we received a call that Buddy was being moved from one shelter to another. I’m not sure why but I do know he had been in a shelter that euthanized and was being moved to one that didn’t. We had another chance at adoption. Eric and Arielle went to see him. They came home excited. We started the adoption process and Arielle and I went to pick Buddy up on a hot day late in July. They brought him out and I was taken back. Buddy was massive! I was nervous. Arielle and I got him in the car with a little help and just as our friend had said Buddy was the calm! He could have pulled me across the parking lot but instead he hopped right in ready for a ride. Part bloodhound, part mastiff– he sat in the backseat and drooled.IMG_0283
Coming Home
Oh, the drool! Never did I think I’d have a dog that slobbered. It didn’t take long for me to figure out I needed to carry a towel with me everywhere we went. When Buddy shook his head we would all take cover as not to get hit in the face with a wet slimy glob. It was gloriously awful!

He fit right in with our home as if he had been there for years although Buddy wouldn’t make eye contact and mostly kept his head to the ground smelling everything. He was gentle but there seemed to be something missing. Sometimes we wondered if he had hearing problems because he didn’t always respond when we called him. This went on for some time and we figured it was just his calm misdemeanor.

Then one day I was alone writing and the door burst open! I jumped. There was Buddy followed by Ollie and Nahla. He figured out how to open all the doors in our house. Soon, he was following me everywhere! I learned the necessity of locking our front door when I took out the trash otherwise I’d find myself with three leashes running down the street.

After many months  we began to notice a change in Buddy. He started looking us in the eye, coming when he was called and greeting us at the door. Sometimes he’d even try and jump on Eric. That’s a difficult task for a hundred fifty pound dog! Buddy had finally realized he was home.

We then understood that whatever Buddy had been through in his five short years of life had taught him not to trust. Even though he was the sweetest dog ever I suppose he never knew true love in return because although he always offered it others only accepted it for a short time. Regardless of being abandoned he still loved.

The phrase: It’s not over was the epitome of Buddy’s life. With each move he made through people’s homes and in and out of shelters he took the attitude of: It’s not over and he loved through it all.

Buddy Fun

Buddy watched my every move. He spent hours by my side as I wrote. If he would fall into a deep sleep and wake to find me gone he’d open every door in the house searching for me. Where I went, Buddy went. He instinctively knew Eric was the only one he could play with because of his size. Eric would try wrestling with him and end up with a giant paw to the face. Of course I would be there like a worried mom telling Eric not to hurt my baby.

People would take one look at Buddy and say: “Wow, that’s a big boy.” Although he was gentle he made people nervous. One day I was busy writing. Arielle was home on break from college and when I noticed none of the dogs were at my side I thought maybe they were with her. It was very unusual for me to be alone. Finally, I headed downstairs. That’s when I discovered our front door was open. Panic set in. I was about to run out and search when I spotted a car outside. There was a man in the drivers seat. I turned and spotted both dogs lying in our living room, door wide open, watching the man. Well, I assumed he must have returned them after they ran away. Nope. Arielle had accidentally left the front door unlocked when she left. Buddy opened it to look for her. Both dogs went outside and then when the man pulled up in his car to see me both dogs came inside and sat watching him. One look at Buddy and the salesman decided it was best for him to stay in the car. Buddy was like a big brother teaching Ollie to stay calm in the face of uncertainty.

Cancer
Last pictures of Buddy Jan 4 2014 019

Early November of 2013 there was an occasional puddle by our sliding glass doors leading to the lanai. Nahla had passed away in July of 2013 so I thought it had to be Ollie. Buddy was just too good. Then it happened one night when Buddy had gone downstairs and Ollie was with us. I knew something was wrong. The vet did a blood test and said Buddy had an infection. They gave us medication for a  urinary infection and told me if it didn’t work to come back for an x-ray. Buddy appeared normal and we waited for the meds to take effect. They didn’t. After two weeks Buddy was worse. There were no more accidents but I could tell something was wrong. He had trouble getting up off the floor like he was in pain. He was. An x-ray showed Buddy was unable to urinate at all due to a tumor blocking his urethra. Standing there in the vets office, in the same room where I received news Nahla was dying four months earlier, I was listening to the Dr. tell me Buddy’s outlook was not good. The tumor was cancer and in a spot where it could not be removed by a specialist. I needed options because there was no way I was putting him down. Once they cathed Buddy he was his usual self. I was not putting him to sleep.

Chemotherapy was our only option so we took it. He had his first round and we waited for the tumor to shrink. Buddy was unable to urinate on his own and thus started our education on cathing dogs and trying to get a blood hound to take medication. Buddy wanted no part of either. In his mind he was perfectly fine with the exception of not being able to pee. He still followed me everywhere and one night succeeded in moving our coffee table away from the stairs so he could climb them and be with us. At first he allowed the catheter to stay in for a few days. Then he’d had enough. No matter what we tried, the cone, a diaper, plastic wrap, or a t-shirt, Buddy was always able to remove his catheter. We gave up and just bought a bunch and cathed him every day. All the time we kept waiting for him to be able to go on his own. Hoping.

Buddy had lots of pills. Giving him his meds was not easy. Even if I chopped them up or sprinkled them on his food there was no fooling that nose. I hate meat and have refused to buy it, touch it or cook it for years. As I stood at our kitchen counter shredding a rotisserie chicken, Eric’s mouth hit the floor. Before I could say a word he said “I know. If I ever get cancer you would cook meat for me too.” I winked. “Shred it, not cook it.”

Right as Buddy was about to get his second round of chemo the Dr. said the tumor had shrunk. Great news! I thought for sure after the next treatment he would go into remission for a few months or longer. The day after Christmas Buddy received his second dose of chemo. When I picked him up later that afternoon he stumbled at first and I worried I was putting him through too much then he spotted my car, picked up his pace and hopped right in. He wanted to go home. Buddy was his usual self for over a week and then suddenly he wouldn’t get up and refused to eat. We tried lifting him, coaxing him…nothing. That night he didn’t follow us upstairs. At four am I woke to an odd sound. Not a bark…a cry. It was Buddy. I ran downstairs and found him lying at the bottom step. He had inched his way off his dog bed and dragged his body across our living room floor. He was calling us. I spent the night downstairs next to him.

We still thought maybe there was a chance for Buddy but when the Dr. listened to his heart she told us something was wrong. More tests and x-rays would have told us exactly what it was but it wouldn’t have taken away his tumor and it would have caused him more pain. So, Eric and I said good-bye to Buddy and stayed with him as he fell asleep.

Oh, how my heart misses my friend

There are reminders of Buddy everywhere in this house. I keep expecting him to burst through my writing room door or to bellow from our lanai telling us he wants to come in. I miss kissing his head and running my hand down his furry coat. I miss the way he would look at me. Even when he was sick he would lift his head to find me and  gaze as if I was the most important person in the world to him.

I knew Buddy was special the day I first saw his picture but I didn’t know then that he would change my life. Buddy taught me about love and acceptance. The day we brought him home from the shelter the sun was shining, we rolled the windows down and blared Jason Mraz’s: Living In the Moment. For weeks afterward, every time I took Buddy in the car I played that song over and over. I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s Buddy’s theme song. What made him so special was that Buddy was always living in the moment. He never knew what was coming next yet he loved. I’m blessed to have shared so many of those moments with my Buddy.


Comments to "Buddy’s Story"

  1. M. Elena shid

    January 5, 2014

    Beautifully written! He will be live on in your words forever.

    • kdrausin

      January 5, 2014

      Thank you, Elena.

  2. Janelle

    January 6, 2014

    Tears in my eyes, no words can explain a dog\’s love or the joy they bring to our lives. Buddy seemed like a very special dog, with a big heart a big doggie smile as they pictures all show!! I\’m so glad you and the family were able to have Buddy as part of your lives.

    • kdrausin

      January 6, 2014

      Thank you, Janelle. He’s always in my thoughts and forever in my heart.

  3. Muza Ulasowski

    January 9, 2014

    I am definitely shedding a tear or two or three. I can so sympathise with you, having gone through similar with our faithful JackJack. They are very special, our furry friends, and are sadly missed when they are gone. I hope you and your wonderful family find comfort in knowing that you gave Buddy and wonderful life in a very loving home.

    • kdrausin

      January 13, 2014

      Thank you, Muza.

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