Ears back, nose fully engaged and a bounce in his step; for my dog Buddy every trip to the lake near our house was like a trip to Disneyland for a small child. He was born to explore, mostly for small critters and on occasion a local cat.
Buddy came to us from a pet shelter. He was timid and covered with bite marks. He often seemed to have his head down, knowing that he must surely have done something wrong. Shortly after we took him in he jumped up on our bed during the day. Standing nearby I lightly scolded him telling him ‘no’. He quickly jumped down and I didn’t think much of it until a few minutes later when I noticed he was nowhere to be seen. I looked around. Finaly, poking my head down low I found him under the bed. He was so bothered by his inadvertent offense that he refused to come out. I tried to encourage him but he just laid motionless. I eventually had to reach bank and gently pull him out by his back leg. He looked on nervously as I scooped him up close and petted him.
We never really learned what had happened to him or just how badly he had been treated. In fact we didn’t even know how old he was The pet shelter vet listed him as 5-7 years old but our own vet thought that he was only 2 years old at most.
Pets are funny that way. They have the ability to attach themselves to us and, like our kids, bring their own personality along for the ride. Buddy was a Jack Russell. And a large one for his breed. I suspect he never realized he should have been the dominant one. Whatever nightmare he previously had softened him. His breed is generally hyper, anxious and full of boundless, nervous energy. But that was not Buddy; he was the gentle giant of his breed. Loving and sweet, sometimes michievious.
His greatest vice was cats. He loved the chase. Because of that we had to keep an eye on him. Once he locked in on a target his whole being transformed and there was nothing in the world, including a seemingly impossibly tall stone wall in our backyard, that could keep him from his mission. But we all have our weakness. we just had to learn to deal with his and protect him from himself.
Eventually our kids grew up and went on to their own life and Buddy started to slow down. His once brown face turned to white. No longer quite so anxious to play he enjoyed ever longer naps yet never tired of just hanging out with my wife or I. Every night he would trot to his bed near ours, waiting for someone to hold the blanket partially up like a lazy matador so he could walk onto it and then be tucked in.
Leaving for work meant a trip outside to do his thing followed by the reward, in his mind, of breakfast. Then after a goodbye and some scratched behind his ears he would sit in his bed looking at me as I went out the front door. Late that evening, returning form work, we would have a great reunion as if we were long lost friends seeing each other for the first time in years.
Sadly all good things come to an end. Despite the vet prediction that he only had 3 months, maybe 6 at the outside, Buddy hung in there, for 16 months. Keeping his loving, gentle personality until his final moments. We are sure going to miss that boy.