View Full Version : Ode to my dog. *very long*

07-30-2007, 05:15 PM
Ok I'm feeling a bit mopey and blue. self pitying maybe. it's allowed once in a while.
just having a pants month. lots of things piling up and feeling like I'm standing here with both arms outstretched holding up the fabric of my life.

my dog died on the 20th. my beautiful labrador retriever, Buster. just turned eight years old and my constant companion. he had a couple of health issues like arthritic elbows and a sensitive stomach, so he had days when he ddn't want to exercise and days when for whatever reason his food made him vomit. he'd had those all his life though. Then a week before he died he started vomiting a lot and it appeared he was in lot of pain. several visits to the vet yielded the advice that his arthritis had got a lot worse and to give him very small amounts of a common human pain reliever tablet. (the particular tablet had been tested on dogs originally) so we gave him this medication and it seemed to be working. we cut back his exercise, tried our best to give him every comfort we could. then he stopped eating. began panting a lot and no matter where he lay, sat, stood, he just seemed to be in pain and discomfort.

now i should say Buster came to us as part of the puppy walking scheme for the guide dogs for the blind association here in britain. we did all the house training and basic command training and obedience stuff for his first year.
we knew then he was special. individual and with a personality beyond most dogs. he was cheeky and a lovable rogue who absolutely loved being out and about and the local nature reserve and woods were his domain. it was like his primal instincts were all intact yet tempered with a soft side and a willingness to be lead and to learn. he climbed mountains with us and everywhere we went so did he. he slept on our bed he sat on the sofa and watched TV with us. he'd even follow us into the bathroom and lie on our feet when we had 'business' to do. he even tried jumping in the shower with us if he could. he just never tired of learning and trying new things.

then he spent a year back at guide dog HQ doing all their training. which we knew he'd hate. very restrictive regime. none of the comforts of the home he grew up in. and when after his year we got the phone call to say his arthritis had failed him on his final assessment and would we want to adopt him we jumped at the chance. got to the training centre and as soon as Buster saw us he made a beeline for us and demanded we take him home. even offered us his leash. his trainer took him out to show us what he was capable of and how he was technically an uber cool guide dog who would have passed with flying colours if it wasn't for his elbows. my partner pete jokingly said to buster to find our car, and Buster sniffed it out first go. then sat by the door waiting to get in. it was like he'd spent this curious year of schooling and waited patiently for us to come take him home.

the last six years he's had an excellent life. we never treated him like a pet. he deserved better than that. his vocabulary uderstanding was enormous. time and time again we'd have to find new words for things like dinner and going out in the car, he taught himself to fetch the mail that came through the front door flap. even sensing by weight and envelope type which wre junk and which were important. he paid that much attention to what we did with mail. white and brown envelopes good, multicoloured single fold flyers bad. he just picked up the correct mail and brought it to us. not a tear or a tooth mark. he also taught himself to clean his paws after he'd been out to pee. one day he was on his way into the house and pete said to him to clean his paws and buster just stopped in his tracks and licked his paws clean. and after that he did it every time. and that's no word of a lie it was just that easy with buster.

he was also the only dog I've known who would sit and beg for vegetables when we were preparing dinner. He absolutely loved carrots and would crunch on one the way most dogs chew a bone. carefully starting at the thick end and working methodically down to the tip. strangely he never begged for any of our food. he'd sit and watch us eat but never begged. then after we'd all eaten he'd lie on my feet and snooze. then I'd follow pack behaviour and groom him round his face and under his ears and under his chin and he'd roll over onto his back for a belly tickle.

over the last six years I've become more house bound due to my own health. and Buster was here with me day in day out, by my side. lying on my feet or next to me with just one paw touching my feet. or on my bed next to this desk. he'd curl up with his head on my pillow and snooze and occasionally he'd get up and come over to me and put his paw on my knee and then he's climb up with his paws round my sides and his chest resting on my legs and hug me. not exactly comfortable for me but he loved his cuddles and hugs. it was one of his most endearing features. no matter who you were or what you were doing Buster loved affection. loved giving it. he cared so much about Pete and I he'd literally stick to us like glue if either of us got ill. keeping watch, offering comfort and warmth. every so often nuzzling us to see if we were ok.
and the conversations we'd have. we talked to him constantly. and the last three years he started answering back. just gutteral grunting but it was a language. different discernable sounds. yes and no. leave me alone, feed me, need a pee. hug please.

Another thing, apparently dogs can't make choices. Buster could. we kept a box of treats in the kitchen and it contained three or four different types. if you offered him one of each he'd select the one he wanted and leave the rest. when we went walking and reached a fork in the path we'd ask him which way to go and he'd choose the path he wanted. He had something about him that was almost human. which isn't to say I'm anthropomorphising him. he was a dogs dog. unbelievably canine nd a bit lupine even. yet his intelligence and depth of soul, his demeanour and character were such that if you believed in reincarnation you'd swear he'd been human in a prior life.

everyone who met Buster fell in love with him. People came to our house on the pretense of seeing us but they were really coming for Buster. He was a ladies man. like leggy blondes. and he had his harem of female pooches at the local woods where he got his morning walk. certain favourites he'd get frisky with. which was odd considering he'd been neutered. something guide dog people insisted on.

Anyway thursday the 19th of this month he got real bad. went and lay down outside and couldn't get up. Pete had to carry him in and we'd made a decision that he must have a bad stomach problem or chest problem or a blockage in his colon or something. so we were taking buster back to the vets on the friday. I stayed up til five in the morning listening out for him. I could hear him in the bathroom moving restlesly but he seemed to be lying down and there were no whimpers. as i turned out my bedside lamp i heard him move and go and flop in the main bedroom. I fell asleep hoping he'd found somewhere to lie and be comfortable.

Eight o-clock am and Pete woke me calling me through to the bedroom where Buster was lying next to the bed, his head resting on his right front leg and his paws just touching Pete's slippers. his eyes were closed. he'd died in his sleep. My best friend and solid companion. My little monster puppy wolf was gone. I sat on the floor and stroked his head and wept. feeling helpless and lost. my world turned upside down. I grabbed his bedding blanket and covered him up. saying goodbyes.

I thought he'd go on forever. he was strong, brave, resillient. he got through every setback with dignity and held his head high at all times. he was my strength, my rock. the one that kept bringing me back from the dark places my mind likes to take me to. he was like a guardian angel to me. he guided me. more than the way he was trained to. he took me on a journey of self discovery and taught me that I have a soul and a huge capacity for loving and caring. he taught me about pack behaviour and i taught him about ours. a meeting of minds with a strange intermingling somewhere in the middle. he showed me how selfish and self centered I'd been most of my life. changed me. forged a bond so strong it was unbreakable. i saw the world from a different perspective. from his level. and i tried to show him the world from mine. and we had a blast. we had so many good times. all my life I wanted to be 'the boy and his dog' and Buster was that dog. he and I were inseperable. a mighty force to be reckoned with, kings of our domain....

we're waiting on the autopsy report. we truly don't know why he died. he was cremated and returned to us in a 'mahogony style' casket. the plaque reads 'Buster 10.5.99 - 20.7.07 Run free, be happy.' I've placed the casket in the front living room on a shelf facing the window where he'd often sit and watch the world go by. On top of the casket is one of his favourite toys. a small stuffed toy rabbit i brought him back from the local zoo.

And now I feel I'm alone. not lonely. but alone. empty inside. like half of me is gone. People tell me to get another dog but no other dog could ever match up to Buster. wehad two other guide dog pups before him and hey were great dogs. with their own virtues and fantastic characters. Buster stands alone, a class above. A class of his own.

and why post this? To record something, to tell you guys something about me. To try and inch that little bit closer to closure.I'm not asking for sympathy. I'm not even asking you to reply. I just needed to do this. :cry:

07-30-2007, 06:04 PM
The loss of a beloved pet is one of the worst experiences a person can go through. Andy, it was very obvious how much Buster meant to you. From your postings here as well as at the Orange Empire over the years. You're right, no other dog could ever live up to him so you definitely should not get another dog so soon...there is no replacing. Grieve now and maybe someday down the road you will find yourself ready to give another dog a great home, same as you did for Buster.


07-30-2007, 06:07 PM
My deepest sympathies go out to you.

A few years ago I lost a great dog of mine. She was a rather large rottweiler and lived 12 great years.
And in the past 5 months, my mom lost two more dogs (another rottweiler and a chihuahua) less than two months apart (the chihuahua passing rather suddenly). Since I moved out in 2005, I didn't have the daily contact with the two recent dogs like my mom did, but their deaths still deeply affected me.

Like you, I think all my dogs are the greatest dogs in the world and could never be replaced. And they shouldn't be replaced. But there is probably room in your heart for another furry friend.

My advice to you is not to get another dog right away. Take some time and do your grieving. Then, if you should decide you want another pup, go for it, but never look at it as replacing your dog. It can't be done.

07-30-2007, 07:08 PM
That sucks Andy. My condolences to you and Pete on your loss. Sounds like you gave Buster a good life as he brightened yours. May he rest in peace.

07-30-2007, 07:09 PM
I'm so sorry, Jargo. :cry:

I understand what you're going through. I love dogs, particularly labs, and their passing is always a sad thing. My mom and dad had adopted a golden retriever named Lulu from an animal shelter before I was born, and I kind of grew up with her. When I was six, we found out Lulu had an inoperable brain tumor. After a few weeks of her health slowly deteriorating, my parents decided to not let her suffer and brought her to the vet's to put her down. She was nine years old when she died. I was very upset, but this was when I got the talk from my parents about death and that everything has to die someday. I still miss Lulu, even though it's been more than ten years since she's been gone. I haven't owned a dog since then, but I plan to again someday. I know that, like Lulu, Buster can never be replaced. The important thing is that you always remember them.

07-30-2007, 07:13 PM
I know how you feel, Mr. DP - well at least I know how I felt when Woody left.... and it was someplace special that I posted my own message of sorrow - for very similar reasons. Just to get it out - but not let it get away, if I'm even understanding a little.

Best of luck. I'm still getting over mine (now nearly 2 years gone), but we're now considering a new dog. Talking it over, proing and conning different breeds, etc. I hope, if and when we get a new one, that I can love him or her the same way Woody loved us.

07-30-2007, 08:08 PM
People often say that gay guys have dogs as child substitutes. We never intended it to be that way but buster was definitely close to being that. I guess it's hit me doubly hard because pete is terminally ill and quite ill right now with pneumonia. actually dropped him off at hospital today. Normally when pete's bad Buster would be here snuggled up. it's an odd feeling having an empty house around me. I wish i could say i know it'll all work out fine. I just don't know. The future is looking decidedly shakey.

And guys, thank you. you've actually made me cry for all your dogs too. though general grievous's sig line did make me laugh. nature is so cruel to give these gorgeous animals such a short lifespan. in the back of your mind you know time is limited and you try to make the best and most of it but it's never enough. I will have a dog again. probably a pet rescue one. pedigre animals are lovely but also prone to so many health probs. I think taking in a rescued dog would be great. maybe two smaller ones. double the love. and Buster taught me how to be a beter 'dad' so i know i'll be taking that with me next time.

cool news JJ. I know whatever breed you get that dog will be going to a good home. and I expect pictures when you get him/her. ok?

GG, thankfully i took plenty of photos of Buster. and friends have given me a couple of short videos they had on their cell phones. I'm going to put it all into a decent presentation on a disk. then make copies. so even if i don't look at it for a while it'll all be there. and we've kept all his stuf like his bed and toys and food bowls. safe in storage. one of the last things i taught Buster was sharing stuff. he was very posessive but we finally sorted it and i think he'd be ok with another dog getting use out of his stuff.

you guys rock. I know I can be a pain and I'm the other side of the world almost but you do. :)

07-30-2007, 08:12 PM
Very sorry to hear about that, Mr. D. I lost my pup, Molly, a black lab, a few years ago at the old age of 16 years old, just a few days shy of her 17th birthday. She had a problem in her throat that made her unable to swallow phlegm and whatnot. She would constantly cough and choke and more times than I can count, one of my family would jump to her aid and rub her throat gently, helping her swallow. We were always rewarded with a quick kiss to the face. She was also jet black so if she was outside too much in the summer, she'd get hot and this would just increase the problem, so we'd help her cool down by rubbing her face with cold washrags and putting the fan on her. Later in life, her paws were incredibly warn and she had trouble getting up from our marble floor and many times, i'd wake up in the morning to her barking for help, so i'd sleepingly come downstairs and she'd be struggling to get up, so i'd go up behind her and she'd lay on her side and i'd slide her onto the carpet. It almost became a ritual as one of us would hear her, we'd walk to her, she'd roll on her side and we'd slide her onto the carpet. One of hte coolest things she'd ever done was when she was a young tike, she was barking at the back door and my brother, who was home alone and about 18 at the time, thought she had to use the bathroom, got her leash and took her outside. Two men were outside waiting for him and knocked him on the head with a bat and he went down, obviously out of it, but still conscious. He saw her bite into the hand of one of the assailants who ran off and the other guy, she chased for about two blocks on the sidewalk before stopping, coming back and nudging him with her snout before he could get up and go back inside.

we got her when she was a puppy and I was a wee lad, so she had seen me grow up and likewise. I still have memories coming home from elementary school and seeing her run at me, knocking me down to play with me. She was always incredibly loving and also, very very spoiled. After a few months of checking us out, she came to the conclusion that I gave the best belly rubs, tooshie scratches and ear rubs and if i was sitting on the couch, on the lazy boy, at the table doing homework, it didn't matter: she would walk by and demand some attention which I would gladly give. If she rolled on her back for a belly rub and saw somebody else coming, she'd proply roll over, almost as if saying, "nope, sorry, you're not gonna do, bud" and when she me, back over she went, gums rolled back, revealing a smile of pure giddiness. I still remember being on the couch and Molly walking up next to me brushing the side of the couch until her keister as in my face as she would turn, look at me, look at her tooshie and then back again; this would continue until I did what I was told and that was give her a tooshie rub.

And some folks think the family is crazy, but to this day, we all believe she understood to every word we would and would even respond. She ate every day 5 pm, on the dot and if you were not quick enough, she'd start hollering at you. I can recall asking her, "what? you gotta go outside?" and she'd literally shake her head at me, telling me "no" at each odd choice until I said, "din din?" or "supper?" to which she'd nod and go bark at her bowl. Lots of times we'd ask her if she was a good puppy or if she was a brat and she'd constantly nod her head, tail always wagging. Every so often she'd give us a bark to add to the nod or shaking of the head, as if to emphasize her point. I remember when I went to columbus to go to school and work for a few years and when I changed schools, I took a break and had 9 months off. I'd come home to dayton from time to time and she was older at this point, white/grey hairs on her chin, legs and bum. She'd see me come into the house late at night when the folks were asleep and she'd raise her head, wag her tail a few times and when she made an effort to get up to see me, I'd kneel down next to her, tell her not to worry if she was asleep, that'd I'd talk to her in the morning and she'd wag her tail, give me a kiss goodnight and them roll back over to catch more Z's.

She also had the most chilled out, great personality. She was great with my friends and each one of them knew her name and she knew theirs. We could tell her to go bother my friend Brian and she'd head over to Brian and give him guff. If i ever had a sleep over or geek gathering, she'd stop in to say hi and get some attention before going to relax. She'd then come in at night before she retired to check on everybody, sniffing us all out and then going to bed for the evening. Hell, i've seen a fair amount of friends from high school over the last few years and they've ALL asked, "dude, is Molly still around???" and i'd have to give them the sad news that she passed before her 17th birthday and they'd usually reply with how sad that was as they all enjoyed her. I remember when my nephew came to visit and he was only 2 or so and he was literally pulling on her tail for lord only knows how long as he hadn't listened to my mom when she said to knock it off. I came down to grab some water and she raised her head at me, her eyes HUGE and she looked at him and then me, and then him. I told him to knock it off and moved him elsewhere and she'd thank me and go about her day.

I could literally go on for days about how great of a pup she was and how it broke everybody's heart when she passed. I got a phone call saying she was going and I drove in from columbus at 80 mph trying to be there with her, but it was too late. My father had taken her in as she was just suffering too badly. He said later that he had her in the backseat and she had stuck her head through the opening in the front seat and rested her head on his arm and was staring up at him. I still don't forgive myself for not being there with her. I had many nick names for her ranging from "The old Lady" to "the little sister" as she was family to us. My mom and dad used to refer to her as "the daughter" and the sons all called her "sister" too. Hell, we don't even use her pillow anymore as it was a beaten up frog shaped pillow that she would drag out and rest on from time to time. We just now decided, about five years later to get a new dog. I'm very excited as a huge fan of dogs. We'll probably get a golden retriever as my good friends down the road have two of them, Chewie and Hans and my mom has taken to them VERY well; and I have the scars, cuts and scrapes to show how well they've taken to me as well. Give it time, you'll want another dog. My condolences.

Old Fossil
07-30-2007, 08:20 PM
Sounds like you gave him a wonderful life, Jargo. Buster was a very lucky dog to have a home like yours. From the way you talked about your relationship with him, it seemed like you reached an understanding beyond that of simple dog owner and his charge. To be able to forge a bond of friendship like that, transcending species... the world would be a better place if there were more examples like you and Buster.

Dar' Argol
08-01-2007, 11:08 PM
Wow Jargo, if there was ever any dog to be jealous of, its Buster. I am very sorry for the lost of your friend. I know from over the years that Buster was very special to you and to hear this news brought a tear to my eye. Its hard when you lose someone you have come so accustom to having around. I do hope that you can find a way through this and to never forget the companionship and love that Buster gave you. I can see that he taught you a lot!

08-02-2007, 12:34 AM
though general grievous's sig line did make me laugh.

Glad I helped cheer you up somewhat. :)