My Buddy and Me
A close resemblance of my late childhood pet Buddy, when we got him as a puppy from the shelter
When Buddy came into my life
Buddy came into our lives, when I was five and my brother Eric was seven. He changed our lives for the better.
Buddy’s original owner had tied him to a tree near a schoolyard and left him there. We don’t know how long he had been there; but since he was in relatively good shape, probably not for too long. Buddy broke free when he heard the playful laughter of children in the school’s playground. It was there he was picked up by the animal warden.
Months earlier, my mom had spoken to one of our neighbors, who volunteered at a local animal shelter. Mom described the type of dog she was looking for and asked for help in locating such a dog. Mom’s list of requirements was a female puppy, medium-sized, mixed breed, not high strung and one who was good around children. Mom was hoping to get a dog in September when school started, so she could devote the time to training her.
One day, the neighbor came to our house and told Mom Buddy's story. She said how he was a great dog and he would be perfect for us. So off we went, the neighbor, mom, Eric and me. We drove to another volunteer’s home. When the shelter was full, they sent out dogs to various homes. This lady had eight dogs, besides her own three. When we arrived at her home, we were surprised when we first saw Buddy. He was nothing like Mom's list except for being a mixed breed, and good around children. The female puppy was a year-and-a-half-year old male. The medium-sized dog was a mix of German Shepherd, collie and husky, which added up to anything but medium-sized! He had reddish-brown fur with swirls of black and white. Even the month was wrong-it was the beginning of July, so school has just ended rather than just started. As we were about to leave, the lady who was taking care of Buddy made Mom promise that if we decided not to keep him, that we would return him to her and no one else. On the way home, our neighbor explained that the lady had fallen in love with Buddy and had been trying to talk to her husband into keeping him!!
There was never a chance of Buddy being returned, as by the end of the second day, we knew he was staying. He might not have physically matched the list, but he did on the tangibles.
A close resemblance to my late dog Buddy, when he got big and older throughout the years
Mixed-breed dog poll
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A wonderful dog to have as a pet
Buddy was an excellent, caring dog who was terrific around children. In our home, the three bedrooms were at the end of the hallway. Most every night Buddy would be found Buddy sleeping in front of the bedroom doors. He was known to check each room, especially when we were older, to make sure everyone was home, then lay down in the hall. If someone was missing, he waited at the top of the stairs. If someone was sick, Buddy spent the night in their room.
One time, I jumped down off a neighbor’s stone wall and fell. I broke my arm; and for the next new weeks, Buddy was my nighttime companion.
The time I remember most was an especially rough one for me. When I was twelve, I was diagnosed with Scoliosis, and had to have a rod implanted in my back. I returned home after surgery in a cast from my neck to my hips, followed by a back brace. Buddy left my side only when nature called. During the first two weeks, if I moaned or made a noise, Buddy was alert and attentive to me. He would get closer to my bed and lick my hand, or put his head on my bed. I always remember how surprised I was, that a dog could be so tuned in to a person.
Buddy's love for children went beyond just his family. This love was very helpful and healing when a neighbor's child suffered the trauma of dog bite. The family lived down the streets and most evenings would walk passed our home. Five-year-old David would ride his Big Wheel bike, as his baby sister rode in her stroller. On the nights sitting on the porch, David would run our lawn straight to Buddy.
He changed David's life
Five days after he was bitten, David’s mom came to our house and explained what had happened. David was now terrified of dogs and it was getting worse. He didn’t want want to leave the house because of several neighbor’s dogs.
“No problem," my mother said. "Why don’t you walk by in an hour? I’ll be outside with Buddy.”
My mother made lemonade, gathered some cups and candy, placed a couple of lawn chairs close to the street than the house.
When David, his mom and sister walked by, Mom was ready. She mentioned how hot it was, and asked if they would like something to drink. David hung back, but when his mom walked over, he stuck to her like Velcro. Buddy must have sensed something was wrong, because instead of going over to David and licking his face, as usual, he just laid on the ground. After about five minutes, he rolled over on his back, stomach to the sky.
“Oh David, I think Buddy wants you to rub his tummy", my mother said.
David just shook his head no.
My mother then rubbed Buddy’s stomach. “Don’t be sad, Buddy. David will rub your tummy later.”
David kept urging his mother to drink her lemonade faster as he wanted to leave.
But since he wasn’t as fearful around Buddy as he was around other dogs, his mom had hope and drank very slowly. Eventually David’s love of Buddy overtook his fear. After about an hour, he walked over to Buddy. Smart, intuitive Buddy played it cool. He didn’t get as excited as usual and took his cue from David. He just laid there and made David come to him. It wasn't too long after that the two of them were sitting side by side with David petting Buddy. Later that evening, David’s mom called and thanked my mother.
Buddy and Jodie
We lived in a bi-level home, and whenever we came home, Buddy would be waiting for us at the top of the stairs. When we were little, he would lick our faces. As kids, our friends thought it was great fun, when they came to our house. One friend really loved her "Buddy greeting." From grades 1-3, I had a friend named Jodie, who was blind. I was so used to Buddy's way of waiting for us, I hadn't thought to warn her. Jodie was really startled, when she got halfway up the stairs and Buddy began to lick her face. At first, she just froze, when she I told her it was my dog Buddy, she began to giggle.
One time Buddy was in the backyard, when Jodie came to play with me. As she climbed up the stairs, she as usual, put her hand in front of her to feel for Buddy and nothing happened. A look of sadness came over her face as she asked my mom, "Where's Buddy?" My mother told her where Buddy was and Jodie smiled, and she thought something had happened to him. After that day, Buddy was always in the house when Jodie came over. They had a really great relationship. Jodie was the one friend that Buddy would stay with the whole visit.
These are just a few examples that illustrate Buddy's loving and compassionate nature. The only times my brother and I weren't too fond of Buddy, were when we first got him, and he loved to chew our plastic toys. It wouldn't surprise me, if he wasn't working wasn't with my mom to get us to put away our toys!!
Saying goodbye to Buddy one last time
Sadly at the age of fourteen, the German Shepherd in him became his downfall; like many German Shepherds, his hips became weak and painful for him. Our once energetic dog was no longer running around; at first we thought it was just old age. Then in June, climbing stairs became a struggle for him. For the next two weeks, my mother carefully carried Buddy up and down the stairs when nature called. She was waiting for my brother to come home from his freshman year at college. The day he came home, she explained Buddy’s situation. She gave Eric a farewell day with Buddy. The next morning, she sadly took him to the vet.
For months afterward, it was a shock every time we walked in the front door and didn’t see Buddy waiting for us at the top of the stairs.
It is amazing to me that some of the greatest memories of my childhood were of a wonderful dog, who came very close to not being a part of my life. Destiny would've been a good name, but Buddy was the perfect name.