I had my Dalmatian, Buddy, put to sleep Monday the 16th. He was heading towards his fourteenth birthday. He was incredibly strong, unfailingly loyal, incredibly patient and gentle with other people and other animals, and always up for a burger.
I was in sixth grade when our old dogs ran away. Our parents decided that two Dalmatians were the best option. We went to a farm outside of Harney to pick out puppies. And there were quite a few. But I noticed one puppy in particular -the smallest, pudgiest, and slowest- and decided that would be my Buddy.
I had to stuff blankets and towels between my wall and my bed, so that he wouldn't fall down in between them while he was sleeping.
From middle school, through high school, through college, and into life, through moves and relocation and change, Buddy was there every step of the way: understanding, everpresent, and as always, unfailingly loyal.
What was unique about Buddy was his wonderfully, magically slightly off-centered personality. He learned how to open doors, break out of locked steel cages while we were away, get into the cabinets for food, find a way througuh a fence... we nicknamed him Houdini Dog for those feats.
He was the perfect companion to split a pizza with, even if you didn't know initially he'd be getting half. He was also a fan of popcorn, fries, and chips; but he hated -absolutely hated- broccoli and pretzels.
As is typical with Dalmatians, Buddy succumbed to hip dysplacia the last few years. Running became difficult, and so did walking eventually. It got to a point where he had difficulty standing, but that didn't stop him from wanting to be by your side -pizza or not.
His mind was sharp, his mental attention focused, but his body was failing him, even if he refused to accept it. And he did refuse to accept it. Over the last two or three years, there were a number of times when I thought that he'd had it; that it was over.
But he always bounced back, though he was generally worse off than before.
Monday, it was agreed that he'd suffered enough. I take responsibility for my selfishness of wanting him to stay with me -and Buddy fighting to keep up. I just didn't want to say goodbye.
I couldn't have asked God for a better dog. I just try to take comfort now in the knowledge that Buddy is raiding Heaven's cabinets. And his health is back, and his eyes are full of life, and he can run and walk and its as if nothing ever changed.
I will miss him. I loved him with all of my heart. I still do.
So Buddy... thank you for everything. You changed my life. And I will never forget you.