Remembering Buddy…


It’s a year today my amazing dog Buddy lost his battle with cancer. I still think about him a lot, and miss him. When I look at Emmy, our new GSP, I can’t help making comparisons. My Buddy is a hard act to follow, and I really have to give Emmy a whole lot of grace to be who she is. I guess I’m not entirely over it yet? And maybe I’ll never be.

‘Buddy Memoirs’ is a series of poems that allowed me to work through the process of letting go of my great friend and companion.  I’ve written other posts on the subject of losing pets, including here and here. I dedicate this post to those who have experienced similar loss.

God understands. And so do I.

Buddy Memoirs

i.

I hold the yogurt container
while you lick it clean
and a slice of cheese destined for the lasagna
seems better served to you.
“He has ears like velvet” Malcolm remarks
as he lays with you on the floor
strokes your faithful head
How do I know when it’s time,
when pain is your constant companion
as you have been to me?
Dear creature without words
your chocolate eyes speak of long walks
and one way conversations on the back porch
you still like to ride in the car
ears pricked up

ii.

Oh, Buddy
there are things I’m noting so I won’t forget
stubby tail with skunk stipe, wags your body
toes contort in pleasure as we run hands down your back
speak love words in baby talk
insatiable appetite for flushing birds in the yard
and cruising food on the counter
6 fresh baked banana muffins for a mid-day snack
belgian chocolates by the box

The early days, dog park days, weight loss days,
The first time I saw you point – vibrating hard-wired DNA miracle
and waiting for ducks to come back, sitting still,
looking at the sky – ears perked up
Ears absorbing tears and words no human has heard
Your eyes, knowing in their depths
the colour of butterscotch, like a werthers toffee
ecstasy at 7 and 3, spinning for your dinner dish
all those walks, all those walks
losing you on Knox mountain, the elephant stepping off my chest
when I found in the the pouring rain
sitting on the sunny porch early in the morning with you drowsy at my feet
protecting me from all things buzzing,
wasps met their demise in your clenched teeth

Like watching Art die, only here at home.

iii.

What kind of dog is that, strangers ask?

such a beautiful dog
such a gorgeous dog
so regal
so elegant
so smart, sweet and gentle

What do they know.

We know.

iv.

This bloody hurts to let you go.
It was supposed to be so much longer, like it said in the book
your breed being long lived, up to 17 years. Bullshit!
You’ve only been with us 5 years… like a sunny day memory
and now it’s over
way too fast.
So I’m sad and mad and mixed up.
What will I do without you?
Who will I take care of?
Who will listen and follow and adore me
like you do?

I’m hanging on too tight today
tears and sniffles and words and wishes
I’m believing in here-afters with you
that God would never have gone to all that trouble
to make your kind
if this is it.
I’m hanging my hat on the verse where the
lion lays down with the lamb
and the Revelation horses bring me hope
that I will see you again.

Your name is ordained to follow me
in blogs and passwords and memories

I’m letting go in little ways
while you lay here on the couch beside me
breathing deep
Plans are gelling
and we will walk into this as best we can
under the circumstances.

But, Buddy, Oh Buddy.

v.

In all this you are larger
somehow magnified.
Your circle of influence constricts with limitations,
distills to pure intimacy of you and I.

Do you remember long hikes, or birds in the yard?

As I contend with masking pills in cheese
and contemplate playing God,
do you have knowledge of what comes
alongside love?

vi.

I dream’t last night of substitutionary atonement
and woke to cold truth, pillow damp, heart racing
anticipating
the last car ride, the last pills
masked in cheddar morsels.

The Spring morning expands in grace
allows us time enough
for our last walk, slowly now
between the budding lines of macintosh
wide branches witness to our passing.

I read you poetry on the porch steps
salt words linger on my lips
I absorb your smell, your feel, your sound,
write you into memory.

Then time, stretched to its extremity
returns us to this breath held static place
Your eyes say you understand
my ungodly secret.
You follow when I call your name.

Soli Deo Gloria

Lesley-Anne Evans

Advertisements

I might just be falling in like…


Emmy is getting to me. It’s not just her nose kisses, or the way she follows me around like I’m the most important person in the her world, more the way she’s filling in the vacancy in my heart left by my Buddy. Completely different to him, not trying to walk in his footsteps (muddy pawprints, I mean) she’s just Emmy. Bob and I sit on the porch in the evening and marvel at her energy, where just a few days ago we cringed. We have taken to inviting her up on the couch in the evening and onto our bed partway through the night. Emmy is learning a lot of new things, and being the incredibly intelligent breed that she is, it seems too easy sometimes.

Call me crazy, but I’ve been praying about Emmy and us. I believe God cares about all the details of my life… even the dog. So, I asked him to help me, to let me see some improvement (or not) in Emmy that would help my decision making process and get me off the fence of indecision. God works in mysterious ways, as they say, and I’ve found that listening to various experts and applying knowledge and paying attention and seeing success is God’s way of saying, “This is going to be OK. Really!”

For example, after watching ‘The Dog Whisperer’ the other night, I decided to use Cesar’s techniques to teach Emmy some boundaries and respect at our front door. I took command of the space in front of the closed door first, then standing up straight with my chest puffed out, head upright, and a serious ‘Cesar-esque’ look on my face, I opened the door and Emmy… didn’t bolt!!! So, I promptly exited said door and stood on the front landing, and Emmy… didn’t bolt! She laid down and looked at me. Then I called her to me and told her to sit, and she did and Emmy… didn’t bolt! This is the same dog that we’ve been holding back from the front door since day one, the same dog that has bolted on several occasions across the road into our senior neighbour’s yard. Too good to be true, I’m thinking. But I continued to do this same routine with Emmy several more times yesterday and again today and Emmy… stayed put!!!

If you’ve never watched Cesar Milan and witnessed his techniques of dog rehabilitation and obedience training, you should. He is a miracle worker in the dog world. He can fix any dog, any problem… and most problems (interestingly enough) are with the dog owners lack of being a strong pack leader! And after my success with being the boss at the front door, it appears that some of Cesar’s miracles can be recreated at home, despite the disclaimer on his show stating, “Do not attempt these techniques without a professional trainer.”

So, with some successful bike rides apres Emmy, some bonding times, crate training for ‘zooloo times’, stronger leadership, and some indication that she is beginning to fit into the rhythm of our lives, I find my heart softening and I might just be falling in like with her. And I’m OK with that.

Now I really should email all the wonderful local dog training people whose shoulders I’ve cried on, to explain where I’m at now with Emmy. Sounds like I’ve almost made up my mind… on the cutie who is asleep at my feet while I sit in my favourite writing chair and write. A perfect moment the fulfills my vision of my life with dog. Dog as companion, dog as added value to a balanced family life.

Perhaps not so ‘ruff’ after all. Thank you Cesar. Thank you God.

Lesley-Anne

My Buddy



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,

Lesley-Anne


Dear family,

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,

Buddy

xoxoxoxo