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My Buddy, R.I.P.

I am dogless. Again.

Buddy was the third dog love of my life. A miniature Schnauzer of regal bearing (he walked on his toes) and a mellow soul, he accompanied me and mine for the past 13 years. I have been down this sad and lonely road twice before: first with Bartholemew the Beagle, who loved to roll in garbage, adored raisins and howled in perfect pitch along with the wail of every passing siren. Pom the Poodle was timid and sweet. He liked the crunch of a carrot and comforted my daughter through the trials of middle school and high school.

It’s bad form to admit to having a favorite child (this is not a problem for me since I have just the one) but I have no trouble telling you that Buddy was my bestie. He loved everyone – people and dogs. He wanted to say hi to everyone. Strangers would smile and say “Hi Buddy,” and when I told them Buddy was his name, they agreed it was apt.

Buddy has been one of the top ten most popular names for male dogs since they started keeping that list. I’m sure we would have chosen something less common, but he was a year old when we got him and by then he already knew who he was. And as the old song says, he was “My Buddy.”

He was my exercise machine and my writing partner. Our morning walks got me out of the house and moving; our strolls morning, noon and night were when I worked out plot lines and character traits. When asked about my writing “process” Buddy was always part of the answer.

But living with a dog is not merely a means to an end.

Dogs correct existential imbalances that are genetically programmed into Homo sapiens. We humans have gaping, screaming, insatiable needs for affirmation and affection, not to mention constant gratification of our primary sense—which is touch. No matter how loving your mate, no matter how huggy-kissy your kid, doglessness is a state of tactile deprivation. Dogs never walk away from petting, patting, scratching, or stroking. And even when you are momentarily sated, a dog will put his head in your lap and look up (eyes wet with adoration) for more.

Cats can be nice in this regard, too, I am told. But cats are far too dignified to actually shiver and drool in response to your touch. Canines are nearly as goofy as humans in this respect and they have the advantage of being shameless.

Dogs are not subtle. Dogs have no secrets. Dogs let everything hang out, waiting for the slightest indication that you’re ready to get down on the floor and play.

Doglessness means there is no guarantee that someone in the house will be in a good mood and that is unlikely anyone will greet you at the door as you deserve to be greeted after a long, unappreciated day in the world—that is to say, with ardor, gratitude, and unbridled joy.

I know that getting a dog is a serious commitment. Like marriage, living with a dog is not all sweetness. Like kids, dogs are a pain in the neck. Frigid mornings and rainy nights do not excuse you from taking the dog out to do his or her business. Vacations are more complicated. But worst is the day you bring your dog to the vet for that last, terrible visit and then return to very empty house. As Buddy declined, I noticed how often my Facebook page featured doggie obituaries and I’d tear up even when the “friend” was a complete stranger.

And yet, and yet … I am keeping Buddy’s food and water bowls, and the paw-print container for biscuits. They await a successor because I know what’s good for me.

Everything I ever needed to know I learned on the comics page, where you will find “Red & Rover,” a strip about a boy and his dog. In the first frame, Red sits in bed, reading to Rover “And they lived happily ever after.”

In a thought bubble, Rover asks, “How do we know for sure they lived happily ever after?

beach 15With the wisdom of the ages, Red replies, “My guess is that they always had dogs in their lives.”

 

15 Comments

  1. Karen Schetina on December 8, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Anita, I am so sorry for your loss of Buddy. You were most fortunate to have him in your life, as he was to have you in his. Your words are so beautiful and true, and will resonate with all who have been so fortunate to have had a “Buddy” in their life.

  2. Anita.Guss on December 8, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I couldnt live without a dog.

  3. Rachelle Pachtman on December 8, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    So sorry for your loss. Without my animals, I would be a miserable creature. I am sure you already know that they are always with us, as we carry them in our heart forever. Take a little comfort in that.

    All the best,

    Rachelle Pachtman

  4. Susan Fried on December 8, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    You have my sympathies. This is the anniversary of when I lost my 16 yr old poodle Tully. My final words were “if there is such a thing as reincarnation please find me”. Through a series of odd coincidences I adopted a new puppy several months later and was amazed to find that he was conceived the same day Tully died. I know in my heart it was meant to be. The love that Tully had for me lives on. I hope that Buddy will keep an eye out for the next puppy soul to be born into your heart.

  5. Vincent R. on December 8, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Very beautifully put. It brought back memories of long lost pets, and made me look down at the purring fuzzball at my side and appreciate her more.

  6. Masha Halpern on December 8, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    As I read your words and the tears come to my own eyes, I look down and see my ‘Mic’, resting his almost 15 year old body … I am more grateful each time I read a post about the passing of a loved dog-family member that I have one more day with Mic; and I feel the path you are walking down now and it’s heaviness in your heart.

  7. Marlene Rosol on December 8, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    We’ve had four mini-schnauzers over the past 20 years. Always two at a time, always a male and female. We lost Sadie and then Louie, and we currently have Gracie and Freddie. The love they give us is more precious to us than anything we could ever have imagined. My deepest condolences. — Buddy sounds like he was a fabulous companion.

  8. Helene Cohen Bludman on December 8, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Anita, this pulled at my heartstrings. We lost our beloved dog last week and it is so terrible coming home to an empty house. It’s also disorienting not being on a dog schedule.

  9. Kathy Gohr on December 8, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I’ve often wondered why dogs don’t live as long as we do, perhaps it is because they don’t have as much to learn…., HaMakom y’nachem etchem.

  10. Christine on December 8, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I love what you wrote as a tribute to Buddy and all the other beloved canines out there. My 12 year old Italian Greyhound is snoring by my side. What emptiness my life would be without her.
    You so eloquently put into words what life with a dog means…thank you. My sympathy and warmest regards,
    Christine

  11. Cairenn Day on December 9, 2015 at 4:28 am

    This also says much of what you have

    http://www.eoneill.com/texts/blemie/contents.htm

  12. Rachael H. on December 9, 2015 at 6:57 am

    My condolences to you. I am 31 and currently have my first dog (who is sleeping on my feet as I type), and I feel true gratitude for being able to share my life with this unique being. Dogs are marvelous.

    Wherever he is, I’m sure Buddy is grateful to have shared his journey with you, “his person.”

  13. Joyce Maruca Kantor on December 9, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I am crying all over again after reading the REST of your piece posted to FB. But now I know your Journey will continue with a new little one. And I am sure Buddy will give his approval. As I said before on FB keep the wonderful memories you made with Buddy close at hand.

  14. Eeva Copeland on December 9, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. We waited 18 months for our next dog, and she’s been so wonderful, we wondered why we waited so long.

  15. Mary Devaney on January 30, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Anita,
    I posted this on facebook site Hemangiosarcoma. This is an incurable cancer which my Bichon Iris and lots of others are dealing with. Your tribute to Buddy was greatly appreciated and helpful to a lot of grieving pet parents. Thank you. Mary Devaney and Iris

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