This is my attempt at writing through what is currently a very sad and difficult time for our family. I’ve written about Buddy, our German Shorthaired Pointer, many times before, including here, here, here, here and here. He is the inspiration of much writing over the past five years, as he has been my constant companion and noble friend. Now we are in our last days with him at home. He has cancer in his beautiful birdy nose, and it’s aggressive, and affecting his ability to breathe. Ironically, I recognize it is about my Buddy, breathing.
Buddy needs us to let him go.
The letter below is words that our Buddy might say to us, his family. Words expressing some of the many moments that bond us, and granting us permission for his peaceful release.
It’s not the first time for us, we’ve lost three dogs over the years we’ve been married, yet it doesn’t get any easier to deal with. So many emotions. Such a feeling of powerlessness and loss. Yet there’s a foundation of trust that God will be enough for us as a family, and will comfort and heal our hurting hearts as we walk with him beside us.
And through it all, I’m believing in a God that has a future planned for his creatures without words. My hope in all of our pain, is that one day my family will be with Buddy again.
With a deep sadness,
When I first met Mom at the SPCA, I laid down on her feet, doing my best to keep my excitement under check because she seemed to show more than just a passing interest in me. She took me into the visiting room and stayed for a while. Then she went away, came back and brought others with her. You all petted me, looked into my eyes and you smiled. I could tell you were kind. I knew I could trust you. I couldn’t believe my good fortune, because I’d been in and out of the pound and SPCA for what seemed like forever, and then you came.
You took me. We went home. I stayed. My sleepover never ended. I remember being nervous at first when you left me for any length of time. I just wanted to be with you every minute. So I howled when you left, got a little frantic and paced around the house, pressed my nose against the window glass waiting for you, hoping you would come back. You always did.
Now I had a family. Claire was afraid of me at first, but I just waited. I was so big compared to her little. So I laid down and rolled over and grinned and tried to show her that I was gentle and loving and not to be afraid of.
I know I was fat, and my body didn’t fit my age or energy level. But you had a plan for that too. Soon we started to walk every day along a beautiful creek with smells of wild things and birds that would set my heart beating faster and faster. I felt safe walking there with you. You talked to me. Sometimes you sang. And then we would come home again where I would rest and watch you do all the interesting things you do. I began to feel a rhythm to my life with you.
One of my favourite times of the day were when I woke up each morning. Mom would come down the stairs and say in a bright voice, “Are you hungry boy?” “Oh yes, Oh yes,” I would pant, and bounce and turn in circles and show you just how happy I was at that idea. In the afternoon after we had picked up the kids at school, I knew that it was time to eat again, and I would dance for you, barking sometimes with excitement. “Speak!” you said, so I spoke in my loud voice and smiled at you. I love food! Even now I get excited when I hear you say, “Time for your pills, Buddy,” because I know there will be food.
Our home is heaven to me. Lying in the sun on the front porch without a worry in the world, watching quail cross the road, listening to the sounds of morning while you fold clothes in the laundry room, greeting the mailman and neighbours as they walk by. “What a good dog,” the neighbour lady says… and I think, I’m not being good, I just know there’s nowhere better to go than right here. I used to run away all the time, but I think I was running trying to find someone who’d love me like you do. And the backyard, full of birds and creatures that I can smell and point at and hunt for hours, the backyard was an adventure every time you let me go outside. And you didn’t leave me there like my last people did. You brought me back inside, kept me warm and dry and honoured to be your companion.
I know I didn’t come to you perfect, and I’m sorry for the times when my good nose led me to butter dishes, loaves of bread, oven warm muffins and cinnamon buns, and the Belgian chocolates that Malcolm brought home from school. I was so sick that night after the chocolates, and I know it was hard for Mom to lie on the floor with me all night, but it helped me feel better. With you, I’ve had the best second half of my life. The first half is gone from my mind now. I never could imagine having a family like you all. When Dad let me start sleeping in the couch I felt spoiled and undeserving of that, but I also felt loved. So I laid on the couch a lot after that, knowing I must be special to deserve that place.
Malcolm’s bed was another place I didn’t expect to sleep, but laying there beside him I felt safe. I never had to worry about being alone anymore. Graeme walked with me, and I know he told me things he never told anyone else. When he trained me to be a visiting Pet’s and People dog… I really felt like I had a really important job to do and it made me proud. Claire called me ‘baby’, and the happy stories she told me as she played beside me on the floor were always fun. I walked over her toys, and I didn’t mean to knock them down, but I did. I just wanted to be close up to all of you, touch you with my paws, let you know I was still here. Like when I would climb right up on Dad as he sat on the couch, I just wanted to just be closer than I could be, maybe sit in his lap to show him I loved him. I would follow Mom around the house most days, looking up at her to say, “Hello,” and, “I’m still here, and I still love you,” and, “Do you want to do something together soon? Walk?”
I know you are all worried about me now, because I feel it and I see it in your eyes. I know I’m sick. I’ve tried to fight it, but it’s too much for me. I’m so tired. I want to stay with you, because it hasn’t been long enough for us. Five years has gone by so very fast. You look at me and cry, and I want to comfort you, so I look back into your eyes for a long time to let you know it’s OK. I trust you. I always have trusted you with my life. And now I trust you with the ending too. Thank you for giving me a second chance at a happy life. Thank you that I was good enough to keep.
God will make me well again soon, and I will wait for you.
I love you with all my heart,