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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Requiem for a beloved dog

Buddy Gromit Goodwin, 2002?-9/15/2015

For the past two days I’ve been hearing the opening to the service of Compline in the Book of Common Prayer: “The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end.” Buddy had both in the last few hours.

Buddy’s arrival in our life came under the heading of Sometimes God Just Hands You One. We had just bought a house and I was combing Petfinder for dogs when I saw Buddy in our driveway, sniffing noses with Simon the tabby cat. I ran outside to save my cat from a strange dog and ended up protecting the dog from Simon. Buddy just wanted to be friends.

He had a home, but he was a Houdini, and he was looking for female dogs in heat. His owner took him back, but a few days later let us know Buddy had run away again and we could have him if he showed up, which he did. He didn’t run away as much after we got him fixed, but he sometimes gave us the slip and went walkabout, though he always ran to the car when we drove out to find him. He loved the car.

When people asked his breed, we always said he was a North American God-Knows-What. He was a tricolor, black, red, and white with both red and black spots; he had heeler spots and floppy ears; he herded, he pointed, he was smart enough to do the taxes, and he smelled like a Lab. We heard countless theories about what his ancestors might have been, but everyone agreed he was beautiful.

We always said Buddy had a St. Francis vibe: he never stopped befriending other animals. While he loved Lucy the blue heeler, and later Daisy the border collie/heeler mix, his best friend was Sophie, a tortoiseshell cat who slept on the couch with him every night. He insisted we take in a very sick kitten who became Eowyn, our one-eyed warrior princess, but they were not as close because she was aggressive with him. He once tucked a neighbor’s cat under his belly and sneaked it into our kitchen in an attempt to give us yet another cat. He loved all humans except cyclists, but the day I rode up to the car on a bike and took off my helmet, he did a back somersault, apologized profusely, and stopped wanting to eat cyclists. He loved to shake hands, which prompted us to create his favorite song parody, I Wanna Hold Your Paw. When we brought him to the clinic this morning, both vets on duty came out to say goodbye before Dr. Colleen helped him into the next world.

Dogs play in different ways. Buddy’s favorite games were Keep Away, Chase Me, and Neener Neener I’ve Got a Toy and You Haven’t. He would even run to the fence to show his toy to the horse next door, who was never impressed.  Fetching, however, was beneath his considerable dignity. He did a splendid high-speed barrel race around any obstacles in the back yard, provided his humans leapt at him and pretended they were trying to catch him; he did four laps of that the Friday before his death.

Buddy survived mast cell cancer in early 2010. There was no sign of its return until he had a seizure on Sunday, then a series of worse ones on Monday. It was clear from bloodwork that several organs weren’t working right, and his symptoms made it obvious that he had a debilitating brain mass. He seemed to age a month every hour over the last day of his life, going from a vital, happy dog to an old, bewildered, and very shaky one, but he maintained his dignity to the last. His last night was crowded, as he was surrounded by his humans and by Daisy, Sophie, and Simon, all of whom refused to leave him and took turns snuggling him. Buddy met his perfect end on a blanket under a tree outside the vet clinic, where he took the first sedative shot without complaint, put his head down on Janine’s knee, and went peacefully to join Lucy.

Good dog, Buddy Budster. Thank you for coming to us.