Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dog Years

A week ago tomorrow marks the one-week anniversary of the passing of Dax's dog cousin, Buddy.

Buddy was the dog of my sister, Kristi, and her husband, Ned. They rescued him when he was barely a year old. He grew to know love and affection, and returned it tenfold as only dogs can do.

When he was a young pup, our collective families took a trip to Dana Lake. This was both dogs' first time around this particular lake, and for Dax the first time around water. The dogs got out of the car and excitedly ran around, sniffing the new smells. Dax walked along the shoreline and was coaxed into walking out on the dock, but was not interested in leaving dry land. We were surprised when Buddy ran past us on the dock and leaped into the water without hesitation. He surfaced and expertly swam to the shore, as if he'd been swimming every day of his life. After that, we couldn't get him to walk onto the dock again and he was clearly very afraid of the water. We determined that he thought that the lake surface was a hard surface, just a different color. He sure must've been surprised when he went through it and got all wet!

Young Buddy at Dana Lake, mid-1990's
He would paw his parents to take walks, and as he grew older his preferred activity was snuggling next to them while they watched TV or lounged.

These dog years are a curse. Before we know it, 14 years have passed and our young, energetic dogs are old and infirm. Buddy developed fatty tumors and eventually one became cancerous. They tried to remove it in July and he barely survived the surgery. After that, they knew that they were on borrowed time.

If you think about it, the next six months were like three and a half years to a dog. Three and a half more years of loving, of snuggling, of chasing leaves and walking in the park. Finally the tumor began to overcome him, and they had him put to sleep to end his suffering. What a difficult and selfless decision, to end the life of one whom you love so very much, in order to ease his passing.

As much as us animals lovers know that we live outlive our pets, that we ourselves may have to make that decision, we still choose to accept them into our hearts, knowing that some day our pets will break them.  The loss is no easier knowing that the time is coming.

But we love them anyways. How can we not?

Krist and Buddy, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Yup, five dogs lie in our pet cemetery. Each of them cherished in their own way. Each filled our lives with laughter, love and loyalty. I wish they could make dog faces so they did not seem so sad, I look at the two we have now and I just want time to slow down. Buddy was a nice grand-doggy. He was always nice to have around and would tell his doggy granddaughters when he had enough. Nice "Ode to Buddy."