Attention! Attention, everyone! *tings whiskey glass*
First, let me just say thank you all for coming. As I’m sure you know, we’re here to celebrate the life of my beloved and dearly departed Buffy. To toast to his memory and give him a proper sendoff.
Now, there are many myths and legends surrounding that ridiculous old mutt. All of them true, I can assure you. His was a very Dickensian beginning. A small orphaned puppy found shivering in a snowy field. Abandoned. Dirty. Hungry. The only thing missing was a tiny tattered newsboy cap. How could we say no? Even if he did smell like dumpster fire.
Right away we knew we were in trouble. That first night, we made a makeshift kennel for him. He immediately escaped. We added reinforcements. He immediately escaped. We added more. This time it took him five whole minutes to escape. After that he slept in our bed.
And every single night thereafter.
That outsized personality only grew bigger as he grew older. I mean, I live in a house swarming with screaming redheaded children and yet, without him, it seems empty now. Everywhere I look has a Buffy-sized hole in it. And there are crumbs now. I haven’t seen crumbs in 15 years…
Oof. Sorry. Got a bit misty-eyed there. Where was I? Ah, yes, clearly Ryan and I were far from model dog owners but Buffy, to his credit, did do his best to train us. In fact, it only took him about three months to teach us to never let the bottom of the food bowl show and that if he was straining on the leash we needed to speed up, not the other way around.
That was the thing about Buffy. He was smart. Much, much smarter than us. And stubborn. So stubborn. When I dared to buy him a fluffy new dog bed this winter, he would stare defiantly at me as he walked toward it and then plopped painfully down beside it on the cold, hardwood floor. That dog was so stubborn that when he showed the first signs of decline on Christmas Eve, my husband cuddled with him on the floor and asked him to try to hold on through the holidays. For the family.
He made it until January 14th.
Oh wow. Sorry. No tears. No tears today. Today we celebrate his life. Speaking of which, I’d like to give a shout out to my mom here, who taught me that you love a dog for his entire life. Beginning to end. From soup to nuts, if you will. Which is funny because Buffy lost his pretty early on. I finally apologized to him for that, by the way. The last time I saw him. He was laying on a blanket at the animal hospital, my own body wrapped around him, his eyes in so much pain I’m not even sure he recognized me.
It all happened so fast.
He probably would have made beautiful puppies.
Ah. Again. With the crying. Sorry. This is all just so…Hey! Did I ever tell you guys how Buffy ended up with his name? It’s a great story. Ryan and I were just getting to know each other and joking about how any future dog we get should be named after the show that helped bring us together. It was only a few weeks later that he held up a smelly, wet, filthy ball of fur with giant brown eyes and said “can we keep him?” And I replied “only under one condition.”
You know, no one ever really deserves a dog. And yet, they still walk beside us every step of the way.
I never asked to be loved like that. I don’t even know how it was possible. He consistently saw me at my worst. My most flawed and human self. He saw that, day after day, for 15 years, and still loved me.
And then he had the nerve to die.
You can’t love someone unconditionally like that and then just leave them. How dare he! What do I do now? Just live without him by my side? I don’t know how to do that anymore.
I mean, what kind of ridiculous creature let’s you cry into his fur when you’re sad and yell at him when he doesn’t deserve it because you’re mad about something else and forgives you every single time you walk out that door and he has no idea when you’ll be back, and through it all is never, ever not happy to see you?
A stupid dog, that’s who. A creature so damned wonderful that I needed to write up a fictional wake for him after his death to help me process the devastating loss I just experienced…
Oof. Again, I apologize. Sobbing tends to make people uncomfortable. *chugs fictional whiskey* Besides, a wake, even a fictional one, is about celebration. And when it comes down to it, Buffy had a long and incredible life. One that deserves to be honored and remembered.
He deserves better than this. But let it be known I tried.
And so, everyone, if we could, let’s all raise a glass and take a drink to help send that gorgeous little puppy of mine on his way over the rainbow bridge. May you all be fortunate enough to find a best friend like him someday.