The last weekend of September was very pleasant. Gillian and the children arrived on Friday evening – Paul had a lot of work to do so didn’t come with them, unfortunately. On Saturday Gillian and Barry went walking with five of the dogs and Kiri and Callum took Buddy Liver Spots for a short stroll along the road. Marnie and Gillian decided to give him a nice warm bath later because he was rather grubby. Despite his reluctance to enter water willingly I think he rather enjoyed himself, particularly when he was dried with soft towels and my hairdryer.
Later on I went to babysit when Nina and Gareth went out but it wasn’t a late evening and Gillian and Barry were still awake downstairs when I returned home. We all slept well that night!
The next day Marnie, Kiri and Callum took Buddy out again for a longer walk around the neighbourhood and he appreciated all the sniffs he encountered.
The other dogs were exhausting themselves in the various forest ponds, apart from Frodo, who only ever goes in for a leisurely bathe. The house seemed suddenly quiet when Gillian and her family left on Sunday afternoon. Barry and the dogs and I went late to bed, though I’m not quite sure why. Buddy was fairly restless and after I’d tried unsuccessfully to settle him a couple of times I took him downstairs eventually in the early hours – he wanted a pee. Then we all went back to sleep and didn’t wake until quite late on Monday morning. As ever all the animals were keen to have their breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed their raw chicken.
The day passed peacefully, Buddy waking and wanting to go out approximately every two hours – the established routine. As was his custom he divided his time between Barry in the conservatory and me in the sitting room. He was not interested in supper at 4 o’clock and unusually for him didn’t attempt to drink any water. In the early evening I noticed that he was breathing quite rapidly. His paws and ears were rather cool to the touch so I heated a pad in the microwave and tucked a blanket round him with the hot bottle on the outside. He was soon warm again but he continued breathing fast and it became clear that he was dying. Barry and I checked him frequently and knew he was not feverish or in shock. He was not suffering any pain and after a couple of hours it was obvious that he was unconscious. Jenna and Gus were perturbed and kept going to him, trying to lick his nose, but there was no response from him. Around eleven o’clock his breathing assumed a different pattern of deep infrequent breaths. Finally he arched his back and stretched his legs, a couple of deep shudders seized his body and he died. He went so gently that we were not sure at first that he had left us but with a mixture of sorrow and relief we soon realised his time with us was over. There were no cries or distress – he simply travelled on peacefully at 11:15. We were glad that he had died in his own home surrounded by his family.
We wrapped him in his bedding and put him in a dog bed, ready to go to the vet the next day. Buddy was a big dog and although Barry was willing to dig a grave in the garden large enough to accommodate him we decided to have him cremated. We went sadly to bed and spent an almost sleepless night. When we went downstairs on Tuesday Frodo immediately went to Buddy’s bed and nosed aside the coverings until he could lick Buddy’s face. It was almost as though he were trying to wake him up - it was very affecting. We kept covering him up but Frodo was most insistent and repeatedly unwrapped his old friend. Later in the morning we put Buddy in the car and Barry took him to our vets. Frodo, Jenna and Gus were very subdued.
Released from the necessity for one of us to stay with Buddy, or to keep our outing short if we went out together, we took the dogs for a long walk in the afternoon and returned home with lighter hearts. The rest of Tuesday passed in a strangely disjointed and other-worldly way. None of the dogs seemed to want to jump onto the settee that had for so long been Buddy’s accustomed bed, though they had been keen to sleep with him when he was alive. The return of his dog bed and harness caused great interest and by Wednesday they had begun resting occasionally on ‘his’ settee but it is still not their first choice. Upstairs it is a different matter and they are quite content to sleep on his bedding.
Buddy was a very determined dog, strong in mind and body, and had come through an attack of meningitis that nearly killed him three years ago and a life-threatening gastric torsion operation in June this year. It seems such a short period since then but he enjoyed his life and deserved the extra time the surgery gave him.
The tiny green-eyed puppy we brought home fourteen years ago and who gave Dominie such pleasure as she expressed her maternal instincts with him grew into a beautiful, steady, stubborn dog. He was really Bethan’s dog and when she came home he only had eyes for her. She trained him and exhibited him at dog shows for a while until they both grew bored of the ‘beauty parade.’ She also did some agility work with him and he surprised the collie owners with his speed and aptitude. Principally, though, he was a wonderful and amusing companion.
He sat in chairs as a human would, back pressed comfortably against the cushions. When our first grandchild appeared Buddy was not sure what to make of the noisy little bundle with its strange smells and would go upstairs for some peace and quiet, as if he didn’t quite trust himself. Once she had grown a little and started feeding herself he became very interested.
The sticky, sweet smell of her encouraged him to approach her gently and when two siblings arrived later and also seemed closely associated with food, any ambivalence he had felt disappeared completely.
He was a friendly boy, a thief when he could get away with it and very affectionate. When we returned home he would greet us by gently nibbling our fingers – we shall miss that. We are glad to have known him.
RIP Buddy – Master Brown 26.03.1996 – 27.09.2010