28 July 2010

Memorial to Buddy, a Good Dog

Buddy was a Good Dog — capital G, capital D. He wasn't the most clever or most talented, nor the "worst dog ever" (aka Marley). Certainly nothing to write a book about. But, he was my Buddy. We did stuff together.

Buddy's first swim was at the dog park at nine weeks old; his first "real walk" was at Bobolink Trail (he was so little, I had to carry him part of the way). He liked to play with his giant purple "Jolly Ball," and he enjoyed a good soak in the local canal. And, of course, retriever rolls.

Buddy grew up visiting my grandmother in the nursing home (that's another, important story) and graduated to working for the Boulder Community Hospital Canine Corps for a couple of years (he even earned a diploma). This story, Buddy's Hospital Hints, appeared in the canine corps newsletter.

We liked walking best, hanging out second best. Buddy's theme song was "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers — imagine those droopy golden retriever eyes and Buddy just waiting for me to come home from work, and you get the idea... "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone; I'm all alone when she's away..."

As a golden retriever, Buddy was very much the extrovert. He knew everyone in the neighborhood, and took plenty of time trying to convince everybody he met that he loved them more than anything else in the whole world. Imagine the dog in the movie "Up," with the classic line, "I have just met you and I love you." That was Buddy.

I promised Buddy once that we'd never live anywhere without snow. Have you ever seen a dog thoroughly enjoying snow? Rolling in it, running in it, shoveling his nose through it... it's an experience not to miss. If you don't have a dog, see if you can borrow your neighbor's golden retriever next winter.

Buddy died on 11 June 2010, one month before his 10th birthday, two weeks before Bear and I got married. True to his stoic golden retriever nature, he never told me he was sick, until he was so sick, he couldn't hide it anymore. He caught pneumonia, and two days later, I found out he had a burst hemagiosarcoma (tumor on his liver). The emergency vet told me Buddy would bleed out within the hour, but we did a body compress bandage, and he was happy and tail-waggy again, for about five hours (so Bear could get home to say good-bye), and then, as he slowly grew weary, we had him "put to sleep."

Buddy was a good dog. I'll miss him for the rest of my life. He knew my every move; each movement of my fingers, my eyes, my shoulders, meant something to him. Our walks together were like a dance; we were in rhythm with each other.

OK, except for when there was some really good sniff, or a cat or squirrel to chase, or another human to worship and sing to (yes, he "hummed" and sang a bit as he got older)...

But always, Buddy was my friend. In my heart, he will 'ever enjoy cool, bubbling waters, long, snowy days, plenty of humans and happy dogs to play with, and sunshine, lots of sunshine, now he's gone away.