MISSING BUTTONS: A True Story About Man's Best Friend
Browsing the pet store waiting for Lacey to be groomed, my sister Chris fell in love with a red toy Poodle for sale. She knew immediately that she just had to have him. He was $450 which was not something Chris should be spending at the time. But she spoke to her husband and they decided to buy the puppy. They figured the puppy would be company for their older Cocker Spaniel, Lacey.
When Chris told me that her three young children named the puppy Buttons. I said “what, Buttons, well that’s corny.” Maybe I shouldn’t have voiced my opinion, but I really thought the name Buttons was goofy. But then again, I didn’t like the name my sister chose for her first born either. I probably should’ve shut my mouth.
Buttons was an adorable fuzz ball of energy. Lacey didn’t like all that excitement and the two dogs were more like enemies than friends.
During this time in 1996, I was going through a rough spell. I was having really bad panic attacks on a daily basis. Of course, initially, I didn’t know what was going on with me. I was living alone at the time and these attacks scared me so much that I ended up in the emergency room a few times. On top of the stress of physically and emotionally not feeling well, I was downsized from my job that I was loyal to for over 16 years. I was falling apart.
Chris knew I was going through a difficult time and did her best to be there for me. One day she called and said “listen, Lacey and Buttons don’t get along at all. Why don’t you take Buttons? He’ll keep you company.”
“Nah, I don’t think so.”
Chris tried to be convincing. “Come on, just try it. I’ll bring him over and you can have the cage and everything else. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just take him back.”
I honestly do not remember saying “Yes.” I never had a dog of my own. All the dogs in my life were either the “family dog” or my “lover’s dog,” and I had to suffer the tremendous loss when a relationship ended. I never had a pet that was 100% my responsibility.
The next evening, Chris brought Buttons to my home along with all his belongings. I must admit, he was really cute. About four months old, he was lightening fast as he ran to check out his new quarters.
Buttons and I spent the next 24 hours getting to know each other. I knew immediately, I was never giving him back. I called Chris, “sis, I’m keeping him, okay? I just love him. You’re not getting him back! Thank you so much. He is wonderful!”
Chris already knew that once Buttons was with me that I would feel this way. And so my new found friendship and love began. It was rather a blessing that I wasn’t working at the time so I could spend a lot of time training my new buddy. And boy was he smart! I was so proud of him.
Poodles were initially bred as water retrievers, fetching game fowl hunted by their owners. Over the years, Poodles have worked in every possible capacity including guide dog, bird dog, and circus ring master to name a few. But what Buttons did for me was more special than any other gift I could have received. He was my loyal companion for almost 15 years.
Most people conjure up the image of a Poodle as a pet with outlandish and sophisticated haircuts. Not Buttons, nope, never. He always had what was considered a “puppy cut.” Nothing too frilly.
Poodles have been a popular dog breed for hundreds of years and regarded as the second most intelligent after the Border Collie. They are easily trained, extremely cooperative and make graceful show dogs. Even though Poodles show much poise and elegance, underneath is a very rugged canine. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes three Poodle breed sizes determined by height, not weight: the standard, the miniature and the toy. Although Buttons official paperwork states Red Toy Poodle, his height made others question this statistic time and time again. The fact is that he was truly in between the normal size for a toy and a miniature.
Buttons soft curly coat required frequent professional grooming. The coat of a Poodle is hypoallergenic and does not shed making them a perfect pet option for someone who is allergic to dogs that shed. Their hair does not stop growing at a certain length - just like humans.
One day when Buttons was about two years old, I heard him scurrying across the kitchen floor and down one step into the family room. I just thought he was pushing then chasing one of his toy balls. But when I saw him, he was shaking and his legs would not hold him up, kind of like the old Gumby cartoon. When I got closer, his eyes were glossy and when I picked him up, he would not give me his normal kisses I was used to. Something was obviously wrong.
I really never had experience with seizures before but it became obvious that this was a “big one.” I was so scared and thought he was going to die. This episode lasted over four minutes which I learned afterwards that it was an extremely long time frame for a seizure.
Buttons was placed on Phenobarb immediately. Through lots of tests and many more seizures, we finally regulated the medication dosage. Over the years, Buttons and I took many trips to the Veterinarian. It was important to make sure the Phenobarb levels were not affecting his liver. Yet, as you see, we took really good care of each other for a very long time.
Buttons was loaded with personality and I thought, amazingly human like. When new people and animals came into our life, Buttons adjusted so well. He was very playful and always eager to please. He loved and craved human interaction. Yes, I will admit he was spoiled.
Through our life together, Buttons and I were best of friends. He helped me through panic attacks. I helped him through seizures. No matter what was going on in our lives, we were always there for each other.
There are so many other fun memories about Buttons that I will keep in my heart forever. Everyone adored him. For me, Buttons was the love of my life. We took great care of each other. He went through more ups and downs with me than anyone else ever did. Our relationship was filled with unconditional love like I have never felt before and maybe will not ever feel again. It’s been almost one year December 16, 1995 – August 20, 2010. I’m missing Buttons.
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