A week has passed since we said goodbye to our dear sweet fuzzy dog Buddy. This is one of the last photos taken of him on 12/20, our only snow day of this winter, so far.
He was built for outdoors, cold, snow and rain.
Buddy’s long glossy dense outer coat repelled water; his thick, dense undercoat kept him warm. Despite weekly brushings, he shedded kinky multicolored hair constantly. Reminders of him cling to every carpet, rug and upholstered surface in our home.
After 9+ years of luxury living, you would think his body could have adjusted to being warm. Living outdoors, semi-feral, for at least a year, left its mark.
Peter and I knew Buddy as a loving, affectionate, gentle dog who wanted nothing more than to be in the company of his family (this is Buddy with Peter’s Mom in 2012 - they had a special bond, Buddy accepting Joanne immediately, something we’d seen him do only occasionally). That comfort extended to very few people.
Unlike the outpouring of affection about River, who we lost last April, the support this time has been for more about us. Even if people didn’t know Buddy well, they had heard his story and knew how attached we were.
(After losing River, I turned to my blog to express my grief, but my regular posting habit eventually waned; I’m curious to see if it picks up again. Though I have been thinking about writing about Buddy all week, I threw myself into other projects instead, the abject emptiness of our home too much to bear with a sad mission. This is the first of several planned posts. As with River, I have a lot to say about our wonderful Buddy.)
In fall of 2004, Peter, working at a project in an industrial park, began talking about a stray hanging around the job site. Truckers would hand cans of food to the flaggers, who dumped them on the ground for this sad-looking dog.
Over the course of several months, Peter spoke to him and “threw cookies at him,” but had never touched the dog. As the project drew to a close, we feared he’d be hit since he’d been habituated to the busy road so were ready to get him out of there. I’ll save the details for another post but suffice it to say, “Buddy” had become comfortable with Peter and we were able to “rescue” him and bring him home.
There was a wild side to Buddy – he enjoyed being outdoors at the dog park or beach – but we were cautious in wooded areas. He’d go back in the trees and get that wild look in his eyes. He disappeared a few times when we visited our friend’s cottage near Bellingham and was always interested in the smells and sounds coming from the forest. Like most dogs, Buddy liked sticks. He would chase and fetch, then settle down to eat them. He also liked eating paper. My guess? Both filled his stomach when he lived in the woods (fast food wrappers, perhaps?).
Buddy was a grumbler when out in the neighborhood and when facing the world from our house, quick to let all dogs, and some people, know that his territory was everything he could see and hear. But privately, at home, he was a quiet dog of luxury.
Visiting me at my old studio in Ballard, he eyed the only chair until I covered it in fabric and invited him up.
Despite our offering the dogs many places to roost dedicated to them (both sofas in our den have been covered with sheet and blankets at different times including in this photo, taken only months after Buddy came to live with us), we would occasionally find him perched somewhere he knew he did not belong, like a vintage living room chair.
River would wait for the invitation, but Buddy just made himself at home. An interesting mystery – this dog who showed obvious signs of abuse also was accustomed to being on furniture.
This picture was taken last February. Knowing that Buddy had health issues, I could only laugh and reach for my camera.
Our dogs were well traveled, adjusting to long car trips and unfamiliar surroundings. The first thing they would do in a hotel room was inspect every nook and cranny. We didn’t want to know what they found, especially when it involved a taste test.
Here’s our Buddy, lounging in a Portland hotel room in the spring of 2007, on one of our many road trips with dogs. Though he didn’t sleep with us, Buddy loved being on the bed and would scrunch way down and settle in happily!
We had several West Coast haunts that offered long beaches for dog play, Buddy carrying his tennis ball all the time. While some were local dog parks (Edmonds in April of this year, our first trip there after River left us), we also explored British Columbia, including Point No Point.
When Buddy was loose, outside of his home territory, he was friendly with most dogs and people. In recent months, with his only friend and playmate gone, I’d spotted him throwing his feet at younger dogs who invited him to play.
It was always a joy to witness Buddy in a carefree moment since so much of his life was guarded.
The tennis ball was a pacifier of sorts (for me, as much as for him, perhaps). He would fetch it, with our encouragement, but mostly wanted to carry it around, making muffled barking sounds as he chased other dogs as they fetched theirs. It was hilarious. (With the ball in his mouth, I worried less that he might react to some perceived threat by biting. I guess I always had my guard up too.)
It was comical, especially when people tried to take his away to throw it. He’d give them a suspicious look, “oh no you don’t!” as he turned to get away.
When tired, Buddy would retreat to a quiet spot and drop the ball, holding it between his feet, ready to warn off anyone who dared get close.
As Buddy aged and his arthritis advanced, we’d become accustomed to guarding his interactions carefully. The code word in the veterinary world for dogs like him is “unpredictable,” meaning they need to be muzzled for nail trims, physical exams, etc.
Being careful: it’s the burden and the responsibility of having a rescue dog whose background is unknown but who shows signs of having been abused. But we knew Buddy and knew his triggers so were able to keep others safe while helping him feel secure.
We were very careful, especially with the many children in our neighborhood, so it was a surprise, when I was looking through photos, to find this one from July of 2005.
That’s our oldest nephew Zach, exploring a tide pool at Double Bluff Beach Park on Whidbey Island. Buddy’s loose and watching carefully (River off camera exploring something else) because this is an off-leash dog beach. It was comforting to recall that life had been easier when he was younger.
I’d like to think that Buddy is in some big dog park, playing with all the dogs I’ve loved and lost (River, Sunny, Nugget, Coal, Frisky, …), not a care in the world.
We love you Buddy and were so fortunate to share the last 9+ years of your life.
You taught me a lot about trust and emotional scars. I think I’ve become a better, more compassionate, less angry, human as a result. I miss you.