Thursday, December 10, 2009

About six and a half years ago, back at our old house, I was in the office on a sunny Sunday afternoon in July. Our dog, Matilda, was suddenly fascinated by something on the front porch and launched into some serious barking. Since one never knows when Matilda might attempt to launch herself through a screen or out a window when she's excited I knew I needed to investigate. I peeked out the door and there on our porch was a large black dog!

He didn't have a collar and looked a bit skinny and dusty, so we put him in the backyard and tried to find the family that had lost him. We put posters up around the neighborhood and took him to the vet to see if he had a microchip, we paraded him about on walks hoping that someone would see him and claim him. And then, after a few days, we started hoping that no one would claim him and he could be ours. Our attempts to find his family failed and that's how Buddy moved in, it turns out he was much better at finding his family than we were.

Buddy was just what we all needed. He helped Matilda eat more regularly, she's a confirmed pack dog from her Husky heritage; and he was an avid and quick learner with commands and leash etiquette (well, except how he always liked to grab his leash and carry it to the door for you). He is a dog who has always loved food, sometimes our food- he's famously stolen and eaten an entire birthday cake and most of a dozen bagels. He always comes out none the worse for wear. The vet said he was probably a combination of basset and lab, perhaps with a little mastiff thrown in and the result was a terrifically sweet dog with basset front legs and lab back legs whose ideal weight is around 95 pounds (he's usually closer to 105 if he has his druthers).

As adorable as those legs are, they've always given him a bit of trouble, it was easy for him to strain his back knees with too much playing in the park or an extra long walk. More recently, he developed a serious case of arthritis- aging is no fun for dogs or humans. In October one of his legs was once again giving him trouble, but this time even after doggie aspirin and plenty of rest it just wasn't getting better. A trip to see our wonderful vets gave us a diagnosis we weren't expecting at all: bone cancer. Buddy wasn't a good candidate for current treatments (amputation & chemo), so we've opted to help him stay as comfortable as possible as long as possible. For a while the pain meds were able to give him his old life back, but in the last month he's had to have more & more medicine and has become unable to use his leg at all. He's hanging in there, but we know his time is short. He's going to leave behind a giant Buddy-shaped hole in our hearts.