Tag Archives: rescue dogs

Buffy.

I’m writing this now, ahead of time. Before we know. I felt it would be easier this way. That I would be more level-headed, less emotional this way. Although I’m already crying so that pretty much backfired. 

Then again, is it ever possible to write about your dog without tearing up? 

The vet said we should start with a chest x-ray, which is scheduled a few days from now. To see if it has spread. There’s a small chance that the tumor on the roof of his mouth is benign but I know that even if it is, this is still probably the beginning of the end. He’s almost 14. The average lifespan of a dog is 10-13 years. We’re already living on borrowed time. 

Whatever the diagnosis, I’m a bit at a loss of what to do. Soon there will be decisions to make. Hard decisions. 

And yet, just like he always has, he trusts me. 

The thing that haunts me the most in this awful limbo between knowing and not knowing is an equally awful question. Did I give him a good enough life? It’s only now, as we head toward the inevitable end, that I’m fully realizing the nature of our relationship meant he depended on me and my family for everything. We were his world. But just like the world at large, we were a bit of a dumpster fire.

All the mistakes. There were so many. I didn’t socialize him enough as a puppy. I fed him the cheap stuff. I wasn’t consistent on training. There should have been more fetch and less binge-watching Netflix while sneaking him french fries. 

I took him on a thousand walks. It should have been two thousand.

And yet, in spite of it all, he loves me. 

I was 24 when my roommate showed me a recently rescued bedraggled ball of fluff that smelled like hot garbage. 

“You did say you wanted to get a dog.” the roommate said. 

I picked the ball up and looked in its terrified brown eyes. Sold. Instantly. I kissed the top of its furry stinky head. Regretted it. Instantly. 

“It’s a boy, you say?”

“Yeah,” he replied. 

“Remember when I said if we get a dog I’m naming it Buffy?”

The roommate smiled. 

“Buffy it is then.”

(And that is also the story of how the roommate eventually became my husband). 

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It was this male dog named Buffy who forced me to grow up. He was so smart. Part border collie. He was constantly outwitting me. He was also anxious. Fearful. Edgy. Understandably so. He had been dumped in a field in late fall. And we suspect he’d been abused before then. 

But that also made him fiercely loyal and loving. 

He even eventually forgave me for leaving him for days and then returning home with a baby in tow. And then managed to forgive me again, a few years later, when I did it all over again. I spent months ignoring him while trying to keep these tiny interlopers alive. Months yelling “stop licking the baby!” and “drop it, that’s the baby’s toy!”

And yet, he patiently waited to be noticed again, sneaking onto my lap on those rare chances when it was free. 

It’s often said that we don’t deserve dogs. That they’re too good for us. For this world. But what I find amazing about dogs is that they keep inspiring us to try. Even though we humans are basically giant bags of meat and flaws, we keep trying to deserve them. That’s how strong a dog’s love is. Strong enough to make selfish and self-destructive humans look in the mirror and say quietly to themselves “today I’m going to be the person my dog thinks I am.” 

And even though we fail in this, over and over and over again, whenever we look into their eyes we vow to try again the next day. 

My hope is that some day, some beautiful, bright day, we will finally learn all they are trying to teach us. But until then I want to say thank you, Buffy. For all the lessons. I was a horrible student. And yet, through it all, you never gave up on me. 

I’ll be damned if I give up on you now. No matter what the future holds. 

And when we finally do know what that future holds, I promise to be there until the very end, my friend. 

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The trick-or-treater always rings twice

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was dark and sprinkling a little bit. But that annoying kind of sprinkle that gets your clothes all soggy.

It was quiet inside the house. Perhaps a bit too quiet. Well, not really too quiet. I mean, the TV was on. And for some reason the fridge always emitted a high-pitch squeal that could be heard throughout the rest of the house. (But everyone always ignored that sound because it probably meant the fridge was on its last legs and honestly, no one really wanted to deal with it).

On the couch sat two nervous creatures. One wide-eyed and tense because she knew what was coming. The other wide-eyed and tense because he didn’t know what was coming but since she was acting weird, he felt there was no time like the present to also act weird. So while she absent-mindedly picked at her nail polish and cast furtive glances in his direction, he awkwardly climbed on her lap, not really sitting and not really standing, but nonetheless blocking the TV from her view anyway.

They sat this way as agonizing minutes ticked by.

Tick.

Tick.

High pitch squeal from fridge.

Tick.

And then, just when she thought they might have lucked out this year, thought that maybe by some miracle the porch light burned out, it happened. The very thing she had been dreading.

“Ding-dong!”

And that’s when all hell broke loose. Before she could stop him, he launched his (freakishly strong, by the way) 32-pound body like a rocket off her lap, hitting the floor mid-stride and doing a Scooby-Doo scramble around the corner of the coffee table until he reached the door at the top of the stairs of their second-story apartment, barking and howling the entire time like the neighborhood feral cats had finally gotten organized and were attacking the house en masse.

She, meanwhile, started calmly yelling at him to “shut up!” and “knock it the hell off!” while simultaneously trying to pull him back from the door by his collar so she could squeeze her frame through without letting him through (which, since she didn’t weigh 32 pounds, was no mean feat). This was followed by trying to close said door as he repeatedly launched his entire (freakishly strong) body at any and all openings. After finally getting the door shut and ignoring the desperate sounds of him howling and trying to dig his way under the closed door, she made her way as quick as she could down the stairs to the front door, which she threw open to some very startled trick-or-treaters and tried to breathlessly yell “Happy Halloween!” over the clamor of what probably sounded to a small child like a dog getting murdered.

Luckily, the little kids who didn’t burst into tears at the sight and sound of a crazed dog and even more crazed and out-of-breath woman, got their candy (name brand, of course, because said woman felt bad for putting them through all that trauma just for a bite-sized knock-off Twix) and went on their merry way, no more worse for the wear.

And then she slowly went back up the stairs, back to him, he who had finally stopped barking and was enthusiastically wagging his tail like “gee, wasn’t THAT fun!?”. They sat back down on the couch together, he once again not quite sitting, not quite standing on her lap, she once again not able to see the TV.

And they both breathed a sigh of relief.

Which was quickly followed by another “Ding-dong!”

Repeat 27 more times.

The moral of this story, kids? Appreciate your Halloween candy. Treasure it. And try to remember through the fog of your sugar-induced mania the sacrifices some of us dog-owning adults had to go through to ensure that the candy got into your little hands.