Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Buddy Dog

My friend Jackie loaned me this book by Anna Quindlen, Good Dog. Stay. It took me all of 30 minutes to read from cover to cover. It’s about Quindlen’s black Labrador retriever Beau, about his life and his death.

Yes, I cried. Then I immediately petted my Buddy dog.

Buddy is (we’re guessing) 14 human years old. We adopted him in our pre-Cami days-- in 1999 from the Cairn Terrier Rescue Society near Chicago, Illinois. We filled out the adoption application, went through the interview process, and then waited for months.

While we waited, my grandmother (Mimi, we called her) had a massive heart attack. I traveled to Florida to be with my family, leaving Michael behind to work. It was a long three weeks from heart attack to waiting in the ICU Waiting Area with extended family, to life support (and the removal of it), through more waiting to the funeral and a return trip home to Chicago.

When Michael brought me home from the airport, he made me wait at the apartment door. He said, “I have someone I want to introduce to you.”

I remember having a vague notion that while I was away, he’d had a friend come to stay or something. It was all very odd.

Then he said, “Close your eyes and come with me.” (In the almost-18 years I’ve been with Michael, those words out of his mouth can still cause trepidation in my innermost being.)

He led me to our sun porch at the back of the house, my sanctuary that I’d filled with plants. Among the plants, there was now a dog crate. With a dog in it.

Oh, from that first moment, Buddy was my dog. The vet estimated his age at 5 years or so. Back then, he was able to jump up on the bed, and he slept at my feet. Now our bed is higher, and his arthritis is so bad that he sleeps in the floor. But he comes to find me often throughout the day, just to make sure of me, I think.

Many things Anna Quindlen said flashed with me, but one page in particular made me think, “If this was my book, I’d underline this whole page.” It reminded me of this blog I wrote awhile back. So I wanted to share the book passage with you.

Occasionally someone will tell me that they won’t have pets because they’re messy, and I suppose there’s some truth to that, between the fur and the slobber and the occasional puddle on the floor. I have to choke down the temptation to respond that life is messy, and that its vagaries go down hardest with those who fool themselves into thinking they can keep it neat. But the truth is that we [her family] were far messier without dogs than with them. After Pudgy died, when the click of claws on the floor was merely a spectral phenomenon, I discovered that the children dropped more in the kitchen than they ate. I had never noticed how many goldfish crackers, Cheerios, and crusts tumbled off the table. That was because they were either snagged in midair or gobbled as soon as they hit the ground. Dogs make messes, it’s true, but they clean them up as well. (p. 61)

I will be totally vulnerable with you and tell you that I had to look up the word “vagaries.” It means “an unpredictable or erratic action, occurrence, course, or instance,” according to Dictionary.com.

I will also tell you that my kitchen and dining room floors are much crummier than a few months ago. Buddy’s losing his eyesight. His hearing isn’t that great anymore, and he has a heart murmur. Bless his heart, he moves slowly, but his tail still wags. He often walks up to me and licks my ankle or toe as if to say, “Hi. I’m here.”

Thanks, Jackie, for the loan of the book. It stirred in me thankfulness and wistfulness, all in a half-hour.

3 comments:

garmentofpraise said...

Buddy the wonder dog!!! My lands, that last picture is cute. That quote by the way is SO TRUE. We actually have to vaccume our house now, and lean over to PICK UP the food that's dropped-amazing, huh?
Give buddy a kiss on the nose for me. It's amazing how much dogs become a part of your family, and a part of you. Keep hugging him.

Brittany Allen said...

Aw Buddy dog! He's so cute, I love that picture! I need to see him too, again, before he gets too old.

mandy said...

this is just a precious story - and a precious dog.
yay for the men and animals that love us.
:)