I spotted a tiny puppy curled in a ball at the back of a cage at the pound. I couldn’t really see the sleeping ball of fur because his cellmate was at the front of the cage barking and snarling at me.
It was a recon trip. Mike wasn’t with me. Our yellow lab/Great Dane mutt developed a large tumor on his spleen and suddenly he was gone. A week later we were traveling in Europe. It was a whirlwind trip that covered Saltzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Auschwitz/Birkenaeu, Prague and Munich.
Traveling was a great distraction. Then we came home to a dogless house. The first time someone came to the door and there was no bark we realized we were ready for another dog.
Buddy called to me. I had to get Mike and see what drew me to the pup at the back of the cage. We were just looking so we didn’t have a leash or any supplies with us. Of course, he came home with us.
This furball was so cute but his cellmate taught him well. He had a vicious streak. Our vet told us we needed to hire a personal trainer for him because if we didn’t get him under control, we’d have to put him down. Our trainer couldn’t believe that an 8-week old pup could be so aggressive.
After diligent work, we slowly gained Buddy’s trust. Eventually we could touch his face and pet him without him snapping. As he got older he grew to love belly scratches and playing “smoochie poochie” when I kissed his face. He was a smiling dog that always looked for the yard with the best grass to roll in.
He remained the alpha where the cat was concerned. Rudy loved to antagonize Buddy. Buddy didn’t like the cat getting too much attention so he would have to go out on the porch if Rudy wanted to play fetch. Yes, the cat fetches.
Buddy loved his vegetables. This guy ate everything from asparagus to zucchini. His favorites were romaine lettuce leaves (mostly the brown stuff) and then the core. And broccoli. And peanut butter. And his bedtime snacks. This dog was a chowhound. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for food.
When he refused to eat a pill-laden glop of peanut butter, we knew something was wrong. Of course I tried to rationalize that it was a different brand of peanut butter. Or maybe there was something wrong with the pills hidden inside. But the day he didn’t gobble down his kibble, it was clear that he was shutting down.
We tried to keep him eating. I cooked eggs for breakfast for him. He had rotisserie chicken and rice for dinner. We bought canned food for the first time in his life but nothing really interested him.
He’d go for a walk to please us but a trip around the block was long and slow. It was clear that something was terribly wrong with him. At 12 ½ years old, he was an old man. Nothing we could do would give him a much longer life or more importantly a better quality of life.
We always said that if a dog doesn’t want to eat or can’t pee or poop, it’s not fair to make them go on. We knew the day had arrived. While he had come so far from the snarling little puppy, he still hated to go to the vet and loathed close inspection of his body. I found a vet who would euthanize him at home and made an appointment for Sunday at noon.
Saturday night was horrific. Even though he had stopped eating a day or so before, Buddy spent the night throwing up. He couldn’t even keep water down. I called the vet to come early but he had an appointment at 10:00 and could not get to our house before our appointment.
Buddy went to a corner of the backyard where he never went and basked in the sun for a long while. I think we both secretly hoped he would peacefully slip away out there but no, he wanted to be with us. The weather was nice so we stayed on our screened-in porch with him. He seemed to enjoy the cool tiled floor.
The vet, Keith, came in an unobtrusive car and explained everything as he went. After the formalities of signing a waiver and giving him a check, Keith prepared us for what was to come. First he would give Bud a sedative. Once he was relaxed and deeply asleep, he would insert a catheter and administer the drug that would stop his breathing, stop his heart.
As Keith went to give Buddy the sedative, our fighter perked up and gave him a lightening-fast snarl of a warning that he didn’t like needles. Even on his deathbed, Buddy needed a muzzle for that first shot. It made us pause to see a glimmer of his old self, for a second a little hope that maybe we were doing this too soon.
There were several professional people who said we needed to put that tiny puppy down. Even George, the trainer warned if the training didn’t take… all I can say is you were wrong. Yes, it took work in the beginning but he was the best Buddy dog and there is a huge empty hole in our home. Even Rudy, the cat has lost interest in playing fetch because Buddy isn’t here to antagonize.