Saturday, August 31, 2013

My buddy will be missed

On Wednesday morning, my dog's heart stopped beating. When I woke up (not to him needing a walk, as usual), I heard a throaty cough. When I saw him, shaking, unable to approach me, it was clear that it was the day. He was heaving and unable to move. He couldn't keep his food down, which meant he couldn't take medicine. I knelt down next to him and petted him gently, read to him until the vet opened. When I called, they told us to come in right away.

My buddy
Let me just say that though he's had heart disease for some time now, it was not any easier. Rather, I can't imagine it being any rougher. I thought I'd be stoic about it. I've been meditating, spending a lot of time with him, and I've even said goodbye to him a few times (he's given us scares), but when it came to the actual goodbye, I was nothing but a big baby. I cried probably 90% of the day, and when I wasn't crying I was cleaning and rearranging and pacing like a mad woman (not because anything was dirty but because I had to keep myself busy).

The worst part was the routines I had that included him. Even just walking in the front door--I mean, he was always there. If he wasn't there, he was with me. My husband used to call him my shadow, and he was. Whenever I was getting dressed, singing horribly while I cleaned, reading, watching TV, writing, whatever, he was always there watching
me. We named him Buddha. We called him Buddy.

He'd been thrown out of a car during a rainstorm and left for dead about 7 years ago. This is the story the Humane Society worker told us. I remember that we had agreed not to get a dog that day, only to ask questions and look at the animals; but Buddha was the one dog there not barking and wagging his tail and jumping around for attention. He simply sat and watched us watching him. We asked to take him out, and he moseyed alongside us as though he'd always been there, was supposed to be there.

When Chris and I got Buddha, I was very depressed. I didn't know many people in Texas, and I was having trouble finding a job. He was there for me when I needed him most, and his companionship, odd love for cats, and needy, sweet, stoic behavior was medicine to me. I loved that dog deeply, and I know he rests in peace because he lived in peace, and he will live on forever with me.

I was there when he passed. It happens so quickly, and though I broke in half when the vet carried him to the table with his leg bandaged and a catheter in, I couldn't leave him. I forgot my breath as he was put down, watched his last breath, and felt a surprising relief when his heaving body released and softened. My first thought, even before the wave of sadness that would follow, was that he was finally out of pain.

It's amazing how that dog touched my heart and changed me forever. And as the grief begins to ease a little and I begin to accept, I realize that I was so incredibly lucky and still am. Sometimes I think that every time my heart breaks with loss, it is rebuilt all the stronger. Because right now, I feel just a little more appreciative of everything I have. He gave me one last good day on my birthday when we took a day trip to Fredericksburg, Texas. That day was magical in that he seemed somehow not sick at all for the first time in four months. It was his gift to me, and I believe we'll be returning to Fredericksburg (where we were in that image only weeks ago) to spread his ashes where he was last full himself and well.

If you have ever or are going through something similar, I wish you well. I thank everyone for the well wishes, and for the support as I was emotionally unstable all week. Not everyone understands how deep love can be for a pet, but it was even deeper than I thought it could be. I'm beginning to find routines again. I'm running the mile loop we used to walk, and I'm taking a moment at the times he'd be there, getting excited about a treat or one of us coming home, and in this moment I take, I say thank you. Thank you.

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