Originally written 5 October 2011
BUDDY (1998 – 2011)
Buddy was born a poor black dog. His mother was a neighborhood laborador retriever and his father was a rotweiler from the wrong side of the tracks. Or at least that’s the way we like to imagine it.
Somewhere in the blue-collar wash between Somerville, Everett and Medford they met and, weeks later, a litter was born around late August or early September of 1998. Later, an Italian-American woman would discover the puppies and gave one to her mother. She named him Buddy.
Buddy was certainly happy the first six years of his life, though not altogether healthy. He got lasagna and spaghetti for dinner all of the time and he grew… and grew… and, well, grew. Before long he was almost 150 pounds:
In the early fall of 2004 Buddy’s first owner decided she could no longer properly take care of him and had her daughter put him up for adoption. A plucky young woman named Rebecca King read the adoption notice and decided to come see Buddy. She instantly fell in love with the sea-lion-like dog with the friendly demeanor and the expressive eyes and face. She agreed to adopt him and brought him home with her and immediately put him on a diet. Though, sometimes it was hard to say no to that face:
Unfortunately Becky and Buddy’s home didn’t remain happy for long and, over the next 10 months they’d end up moving three times due to bad roommate or bad landlord situations. None of this particularly fazed Buddy, though; he was still The Dog. And Becky loved him for it:
It was during that third move – on July 31, 2005 – that I met Buddy for the first time. He seemed to like me well enough and I was certainly fond of him. As I helped Becky move to Mission Hill it became clear to me just how much Becky cared for Buddy and how if I was ever going to win her heart I’d have to win his, too. Two weeks later, when Becky and I went on our first date, I brought over a rose for Becky and a bone for Buddy. I think Buddy enjoyed the bone more than Becky did the rose. It was fun.
Even in those early days Buddy tended to be a dog no one could be mad at for long and everyone who knew him came around to liking him. One of Becky’s roommates in Mission Hill made Buddy a wooden dog bowl holder that we referred to as the Dog Trough and that stayed with us until the end.
In August 2006 Becky moved out of Mission Hill and up to Somerville with me. Buddy came along. It was a new environment for him and, tragically, one with fewer discarded pieces of chicken left on the sidewalk (and once an entire plate of food! What a day that was!). Still, Buddy persevered and found other ways to enjoy himself in his new home:
We moved down the road a bit at the end of February of 2007 and it’s there that we stayed and made our home for the remainder of our time in Boston. Later, in April of that year, we drove down to Washington, DC, under the guise of a short vacation, but really so I could ask Becky’s father for permission to marry her. Buddy came with us:
It was fun. Stuff there smelled like stuff.
Though, really, it was the simpler things that made Buddy happy: going for a walk down to the Greek Orthodox church down the street, snarfing down the occasional pizza crust from Beauty’s, and, of course, lying out in the snow:
Buddy loved the snow more than anything, I think. When we moved to Atlanta over the 2011 new year I was worried he’d never get to lie in the snow again. A week later a once-in-a-generation ice storm hit, though, and left us with a nice, even coating of icy snow, as if a welcoming present just for Buddy.
His final months here were all about tiny gains and bigger losses and we ultimately had to make the decision to put him down after he could barely walk, had lost GI control completely, and had not eaten for 3 days. But the funny thing is, even at the very end, he seemed happy. As if to say “IT’S OKAY MOM AND DAD DOG LOVES YOU.” When we took him to the vet to be euthanized I stayed in the car as Becky filled out paperwork inside. Buddy sat in the back. As I leaned my head back on the rest he reached his forward toward mine and then let out one of his trademark prodigious belches.
“Thanks, Buddy,” I said, “I love you, too.”
And we do love him. And we miss him. Goodbye, Buddy. You were the best The Dog in the world.
1998 – 1 October 2011