I had to say goodbye to my friend Buddy last Friday. We did not know each other long, about 11 months, but even in the short time I had him in my life it hurts just as bad as it would have if he had been there all along.
I met Buddy while working at my job at a pet boarding facility. He was a long time boarder along with his companion, Eddie, a mini schnauzer. They were an adorable pair. I felt a connection to both dogs, however Buddy was always a stronger connection.
They had become long time boarders because their owners had been placed in life care. Their dad had passed away shortly after being placed there, which left the two dogs taking weekly trips to see their mom as they were caravanned around by the owner’s power of attorney.
As the mom’s health declined I learned that the fate of the two dogs would not be the best. They were willed to someone who was going to put them down. I felt that it was my duty to help re-home the two dogs. My goal was to keep them together although I knew it would be difficult with Buddy being 11.5 years old and Eddie being 9.
I was able to re-home Eddie, which left Buddy alone. Although financially it was not the best decision for me to take on an elderly dog I could in no way let him be euthanized simply because he was not wanted. I believe that I subconsciously could not re-home Buddy because I wanted to take him even if it was not the best idea.
Buddy moved in with Boomer and I the day after Thanksgiving in 2014. Two weeks later Buddy’s mom passed away. I was grateful that I had re-home both Buddy and Eddie in time and felt that their mom had held on until she knew both of her dogs were safe.
The next few months were a major adjustment for all of us. Buddy having to deal with being separated from Eddie, Boomer having to learn he was not the only dog in the house and me adjusting to having an older dog, ie more potty breaks. It was not an easy transition for any of us and I know Boomer never forgave me. He would often give me looks of betrayal.
With any old dog comes health issues. I knew it was just a matter of time before he would no longer be with me, although I dreaded the day. For the most part Buddy was in good health. He was able to walk well, go up and down stairs with ease and could even run with his adorable hopping gallop that he did.
One drawback of working in the dog industry is that you are acutely aware of the dog’s health if anything changes. It is one of the things I do not like about it as now I know things I wish I didn’t.
A few months ago Buddy began drinking a lot of water. This could have been for a multitude of reasons but the end result was that something was wrong. I took him in to see his doctor who gave me the unfortunate news that his liver was failing with spots of cancer. Although no true timeline could be given his days were numbered.
Buddy never seemed to notice he was sick. He was his normal playful self up until the end. Last week I noticed his belly looked a little bloated and had the doctor follow up on him. This go around it was grave news. Buddy’s cancer most likely had spread throughout his body. There were things that I could do to extend his life weeks but was it really worth it to make him miserable for the last few weeks of his life? I didn’t think so, even if I felt like I did not have the proper time to process saying goodbye.
At the end of last week Buddy let me know it was time. He had stopped eating and going to the bathroom. He was sluggish and most upsetting, he had stopped following me around the house everywhere I went. This is something I will truly miss about him. I loved my “shadow”.
I took Buddy to work with me to say my final goodbye. As I drove him to work, tears streamed down my face. I could not believe this was the end. I wished we had more time together. I wish I would have taken him somewhere last weekend, to give him one final fun outing.
Once I got to work I handed the doctor a note indicating my wishes as I was not be able to muster the words. I took him outside to the dog park and sat on the ground with him in a swarm of guilt. I was reassured by everyone around me that I had given him the best last few months he could have asked for. It didn’t make me feel better.
People said that I did a nice thing for Buddy, taking in such an old dog. They always made a point to say that it takes a special person to take in an old dog. But I never looked at it that way. I mean I guess it was nice to take him but I didn’t do it because I am nice. I saw a dog in need and I could help, so I did. And I hope that if any of my future dogs ever need help like that, that someone like me steps up and takes them in, to love them just as I would.
I will miss Buddy every day. He was a great dog who had an adorable spirit. I will miss when he wagged his tail with such excitement that it shook his entire body. And his friendly face with his sweet smile. He was a loving soul who I am glad to have had in my life, even if it was only for a moment.
Goodbye my ‘o gray face. You’re a handsome devil.