Sunday, February 1, 2009

Buddy and Me

Growing up, we had a hamster, two rabbits, a pot bellied pig, and one dog (all at different times). The dog was a beagle named Barney. We did our best with him, but he was a huge pain. He would need to go out at 2 am, and once outside he would start howling at the moon. Sometimes he would bite. I remember my brother and his friends would run from the back door to the trampoline so Barney wouldn't bite their ankles. Eventually we took Barney to the humane society. I always felt like we could have done a better job training him, and I thought it would be a bad idea to get another dog.

In 1998 my brother bought a dog. Me, my brother, and my sister were all living at home with my mom at the time. I remember it came as a surprise to me. But I was happy, because even though I felt like a failure as a dog owner with Barney, I was happy to try again. Buddy was a golden retriever. We got him from my sister's friend, who bred and sold them. Pure bred, with papers. Buddy was the cutest thing I had ever seen. Usually when you pick up a dog, they want to be put down. Not Buddy. I would pick him up and he would lay his head on me.

Golden Retrievers are puppys for a long time. I think at the age of 3 he was still very hyper. He would always jump on people. This wasn't a problem when he was small, but as he got bigger it was a problem. When we would take him over to my grandparents' house, we would have to hold him so he wouldn't knock my grandma down. He also chewed everything in the house. We quickly learned not to leave anything even remotely edible on the counters, because he could get to just about anything if he smelled it.

I lived at home with Buddy there for maybe 5 years. Then I moved out. But only a year or so later, my brother got married and he couldn't keep Buddy. So Buddy came to live with me. I think I had him for 3 years before my brother bought a house and he could take Buddy back. Even though he was always technically my brother's dog, I got used to calling him my dog since he lived with me for so long.

My grandpa owned a large property in Midway. He was a train buff, and he had a miniature train called the Midway Shortline Railroad. It became famous. People would stop by and we would give them rides. Except for the fact that we didn't charge for rides, it was practically a business on Saturdays and holidays. For years, every Saturday I would go up there and drive the train. When Buddy was living with me, I brought him up there. I think he had the best time of his life up there. The yard was huge and well-maintained. The first thing he would do when we got there was to roll around in the grass (I didn't have a good lawn at my house).

While my aunt and I drove the train, and my grandpa sat up there supervising, Buddy would sit up there with us. Hundreds of kids would ride the train, and they all wanted to pet Buddy. He had many acres of field he could run around in. Then at the end of the day, we would put the train away and go back to the house. We would sit on the porch in the shade, drink cool drinks, and Buddy would lay at our feet.

Yesterday morning, my brother called to tell me there was something wrong with Buddy. I went up to his house and we took Buddy to the vet. The doctor was pretty sure he had a tumor on one of his internal organs, and he was hemorrhaging. He could operate, but it would be a very difficult recovery and at 11 years old, the odds were against him. The doctor recommended euthanasia. We agreed it was for the best, and so while my brother and I comforted him, he went to sleep for the last time.

Buddy was a good dog.

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