Elegy for a Good Dog

When Buddy first came to us in January 2013, he was sad and scared. He’d been living with an old lady who died and it wasn’t clear how long it had been until he was found. Judging by his behavior wheIMG_2232n he came to us, she let him eat lots of table food and pee inside — I wondered what he would think about our exciting house with two boys bouncing around, and he did just fine.

It’s hard to believe he was only with us for three years because he was so well-loved and had many fans. Among his sterling qualities were a friendly face, extreme fluffiness, gentleness with children, and overall good nature. Vet techs and groomers always had something to say about what a good dog he was — Buddy was patient and stoic and put up with being poked and combed and washed without protest.

Last summer we were saddened to learn that he had diabetes and embarked on a new routine of twice-daily insulin shots and frequent blood sugar checks. Part of the treatment required him to submit to all-day glucose curves where he’d spend the day at the vet, getting stuck with blood draws every couple of hours. He hated it, and our unflappable dog started to shiver uncontrollably when we arrived at the vet’s office. The last time we did the glucose curve he was so upset that he soiled his cage and had to have a bath before hIMG_2532e came home — and then still had to go back for antibiotics later in the week as he suffered from stress-induced colitis. I was growing very concerned about how we were going to handle this for the long term.

Most recently we tried a raw diet for him and he feasted on raw chicken wings twice a day and was honestly the happiest I had ever seen him — his eyes gleamed and his coat shone and he was full of pep and vigor.

IMG_4741Then, quite suddenly, on Sunday night he wouldn’t eat. Monday morning he didn’t eat either and started to decline. Since we already had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning we decided to wait until then.

The first vet I saw was very tight-lipped and concerned and we agreed that they’d keep him for the day, start an IV since he was extremely dehydrated, and administer hourly insulin injections to try to get his blood sugar balanced. As the day wore on, it was strongly suggested he transfer to a 24-hour facility where he could be watched all night. Once I got there and spoke to their vet, it became clear that he’d need to stay in that facility for 2-3 days and the prognosis was only fair.

I had to make a decision and I opted for euthanasia. It seemed to me that even if he got through this particular crisis, there would be another one after that and we’d have to decide all over again. And he hates the vet and would be miserable. And, he’s a dog and doesn’t understand that all of these painful procedures are life-saving measures — he would just be unhappy. And right now he was very, very sick. IMG_2288

So, they put me in the special room with kleenex where they do these things, and brought him to me wrapped in a blanket. He was miserable indeed and his breathing was fast and labored. As I held all 15 pounds of him on my lap I was reminded of the many babies I’ve been holding lately for my job, and I rhythmically patted him just as I do with them to soothe him. I told him over and over again what a good dog he was and how much we would all miss him — I wanted the last thing he heard to be: “You’re a good dog. You’re a good dog.”

Buddy wasn’t a perfect dog. He barked too much, ate disgusting things out of the bathroom garbage, and still preferred to pee inside, especially when it was snowing. But he was also an easy companion, enjoyed walks around the block (and especially walking Danny to school, when he still allowed us to do so), was sweet to children, jumped on the laps of visiting women, and when he was in high spirits ran really fast in circles around the yard and made us all laugh. As of this writing he’s been gone for 24 hours and I can’t believe that when I go upstairs I won’t find him sleeping on my bed.


Buddy, you are a very good dog. We all miss you.

Buddy 2009-May 24, 2016