We said goodbye to our black lab, Buddy. He was the best dog ever. On paper, he was my daughter’s dog, but in his heart, and in ours, he belonged to us all. When my daughter got Buddy on her 15th birthday, graduation was just a few years away and we knew that he would probably stay home with us old folks when she left for college. Then, when he was a year old, we decided that the puppy needed a puppy to play with. That’s where Jenny, his lifelong companion, came in. After that, my daughter knew that she could never take Buddy away and separate those two.
The thing about Buddy is that he was such a textbook lab that he couldn’t NOT fetch. If you threw something, anything, he had to retrieve it. We learned, the hard way, to make sure something floats BEFORE throwing it in the water. We threw something once that sank and he was determined to dive until he found it.
His only fault was that he was so passive. He let the other dogs walk all over him, sometimes literally. They took his toys, his bed and ate his food, and he let them. You may recall from a previous post (Guest Blogger: Eddie) that he ran away with Eddie, our jack russell terrier. I’m certain that Eddie coerced him.
If one of us got sick, Buddy would bring toys and stay at our side until we were all better. If one of the other dogs was outside wanting in, Buddy would go in search of a human to let them know to come open the door. His internal alarm clock was legendary. Our dogs are fed at 5am and 5pm. If there was no food in his bowl at 5:00 sharp, he always reminded us in his sweet, polite way. When my mother came to visit, Buddy couldn’t decide whom to protect through the night. He had to sleep in the hallway between the bedrooms to make sure that all of us were safe.
One day, when Jenny was much too young, she and Buddy “eloped” in the backyard. This resulted in two adorable boy puppies. One black, one brown, just like their parents. We loved those puppies and often wish we’d kept them. But they’re very happy in their forever homes and we get updates on them frequently. Giving them away, even to good, loving families, was difficult. We realized we’re not cut out for dog breeding so everybody got “fixed” after that.
Buddy’s 11th birthday was a few weeks ago. We bought him a retrieving toy (that floats, of course) and took him to the lake to try it out. This was before we knew that anything was wrong. After fetching the toy two or three times, he took it into the woods and hid it. I searched, found it and threw it again. Once again, he swam out to retrieve it, then hid it in the woods. I finally realized that he wanted me to stop throwing it, since he didn’t have the option to stop retrieving it.
That was the first sign that something was wrong and the decline was rapid after that. Once we realized and accepted what was inevitable, we took him to the lake one last time without the other dogs. I honestly don’t know if he liked being the only dog there or if he missed his friends, but there were several humans there. Buddy swam one last time, got a lot of attention and some people food.
I don’t think anyone will ever love us as much as Buddy did.