Recently, I had to say goodbye to my little dog "Buddy". I had only had Buddy for a couple of years, but surprisingly his loss was no less than any other I have experienced in my life. My remembrance of the little things with bud are coming home, walking in the door and yelling "BUUUDDDDYY!", (almost like reading a Robert Munch book aloud as a kid) then watching this little ShihTzu run full force with his tail wagging coming right at me and getting run over by the other dog & of course the cats. He did make it over to me eventually. I had established this routine simply because Bud was going deaf & practically blind, it became a way of getting his attention. I had actually known Buddy since he was a puppy and watched him grow as he used to come into a clinic I worked at for regular boarding & grooming visits. When I heard he was going to be euthanized due to his old age (11yrs) & caregiver problems at home, I agreed to take him on and give the little old dog some love.
It's hard to imagine how one loss can bring back a flush of memories of all the pets I have had throughout my lifetime, as well as those lost at the clinics & hospitals I've worked, especially those you build a relationship with, almost thinking of them as one of your own.
I can still call to mind my parents sitting me down and talking to me when I was probably 5 or 6 and them trying to explain to me that my guinea pig had died. He had been my first pet. I had quite a few pets growing up: the guinea pig, the rabbit, my sisters dog, my cat, my dog, the bird, and lets not forget about the fish!
My grandfathers business was "Biscuit City Pet Foods" in Midland Ontario. I can still remember visiting him at the store as a young girl. I remember being just smitten with his big old dog "Duke". My grandmother also had a dog named "Scruff", but he wasn't as friendly or tollerant of a young child wanting to snuggle with him so much. I look back at the car rides to Midland and the length of it feeling like forever, but the anticipation of getting to see the dogs was my favorite part. The dog pen/run was the first place I wanted to go as soon as I got out of the car. I can remember sticking my fingers through the wire fencing trying to touch and rub Dukes nose or ears. (His ears were the softest). I can picture the run and his dog house and can even remember the way it smelled - just like Duke. When I would visit the store, my favorite time was riding in the truck with my grandfather and Duke in the back. My grandfather would stop at McDonalds, get a cheese burger for each of us and a plain burger with nothing on it for Duke. I'm not sure who would have been more excited: the dog for the burger or me to be the one to give it to him. Now, having worked in the veterinary industry for the past 10 years, a McDonalds hamburger isn't something I would normally recommend as a healthy treat to give your dog. However, I will say it has been a tradition that I have shared with my dog Honey-Dew from time to time and I still get just as excited giving it to her now, as I did Duke back then.
After the McDonalds trip, my grandfather would stop the truck by an area of bush by the side of the road, he would let Duke out and we would watch him take off. He would run into those trees until we could no longer see him. My grandfather and I woud sit in the truck, eat our burgers, and wait. I think it was during this time I think I probably drove him crazy with questions. "When will he be coming back? Do you think he's ok? Should we go after him?... What else would you expect from a worried little 8 year old girl. I was reassured not to worry and that my dear friend would return. And he did. He always came back. It was like this amazing magic trick the two of them performed that I could never figure out. He was such a great dog. My grandfather passed away when I was a young girl and that is one of the few memories I have of both of them. I like to think of them both together somewhere both sitting in the back of that old truck enjoying a burger or maybe two.... As for Buddy, I'm still shouting out his name as I walk through the door each night.
Story by: Sarah B.
Malton Veterinary Services