March 31, 2011

Closing Buster's Book

I'll admit, I've been putting this off.
Somehow not thinking about it, and especially, not writing
about it, seems to make the whole thing not so true.

I've dreaded what this would be like for a long time.
I remember the day I first thought about it -
I was nine years old, and mom was reading Laura Ingalls'
stories to us, when she came to the one about her dog Jack.
About the morning when Laura found her faithful old
gray dog all curled up behind the door;
her sweet dog that had been through so much with his "family."
That morning Jack didn't wake up;
and I vividly remember getting all teary-eyed as she read.

Partly because I was pretty attached to Jack,
and partly because my vision went fast-forward to a day when
that sad young woman would be me.

Our Buster-boy had aged so much in this past year.
He finally stopped chasing cars,
his white whiskers multiplied,
and he completely lost his hearing.

This past month, we watched our old dog fade,
and on March 19, he fell asleep under his favorite tree,
and didn't wake up again.

After my cat Madeline died this past Summer,
Buster was our oldest pet, by far.
He had been here almost since day one on the farm.
He watched Joe and I grow up.

Joe and I with Madeline and Buster (the day he came home) 1997.

There isn't a story to tell or a memory to be had,
where Buster isn't right there in the background;
because he was here, and always had been.
Every picnic,
every walk to the creek,
hike through woods,
or journey to the very back of the property -
Buster was with us.

We couldn't imagine life without him,
and really didn't want to try.

This past week-and-a-half,
we've relived almost every moment with Buster.

The day he was the silly puppy that killed (and ate) a chicken...
and got himself in huge trouble with dad.
He was guilty about it for weeks;
and never even looked at a chicken after that.

There's another day, when that same goofy puppy actually made
his Border Collie genes work for him as he corraled and
saved a runaway goat kid (that we'd been chasing for three hours...)
What a hero he knew he was that day.

That was the only day Buster's Border Collie-ness did us any good.
Most of it went into rounding-up angry bicyclists...

We've remembered what a soccer-dog he used to be;
and how he had a way of running off with our basketballs
and never bringing them back.

This past year - as we watched him begin
to look so very old, I took photo after photo of him.
I found it humorous how few turned out.

Buster never liked having his picture taken. 

It's funny how that fits his personality though, even
though he couldn't really have a clue what cameras were about.
He was a shy old dog.

And Huck, poor Huck.
You've never seen two friends like Buster and Huck.
It will take us forever before we can say one name without
accidently slipping the other.
Buster and Huck.
That's just how it always was.
Huck has grieved more than any of us,
and that's a hard thing to watch. 

But despite all the dreading I did about these days -
these days of letting go of things I'd rather hang on to;
they're still beautiful in their own way.

Much as we now miss our sweet and faithful dog,
I hadn't realized how much we had forgotten him already.

Somewhere in the middle of looking into those faded eyes,
and stroking that salt and pepper head,
and telling him things that we knew he couldn't hear;
we had forgotten about the bright-eyed, happy, fun, bouncy-pup,
that we had known for so much longer.

And now that every moment with Buster has been had -
we can finally summarize the gift that he was,
and view the blessing of his life as a whole.

As the precious memories of all that is past come pouring back,
the old graying dog disappears, and we can now remember 
all the things about him that we loved best.
From beginning to end.

We're thankful to the Lord for thirteen-and-a-half years with Buster;
and a lifetime of never-to-be-forgotten memories.


Jill said...

Oh, Kate, you made me cry.

My dog, Abby, is almost 12, and we are watching her slow down and become an old, tired dog. I am not looking forward to the day that I have to say goodbye to her, but I, too, have many happy memories with my dog.

Thanks for sharing your perspective and thoughts on losing your dog. I know that will help me when my time comes.

To have a special pet and lose it is better than to never have one at all.

Kate said...

You're right Jill! Your last sentence pretty much sums up my thoughts right now. :)

Sara said...

Oh dear Kate, I feel for you and your family so much right now! Our Bebe is 11 and every slow day makes us cringe for the future. And then she has a puppy-frap and makes us forget that she'll ever have to leave us. ;) Thank you God, for sending us dogs!

Special kisses to Huck.

Jacque said...

Kinda leaves a big hole in your heart. I remember when we lost Goodness our Apple-headed Siamese. He was my favorite and would seek me out over everyone else. he was intuitive about when I was sad or hurting...much more like a dog.
I am grieving with you, Kate.

Andrea said...

Whenever I need to smile, laugh or cry, I know where to go; Shirley Goodness and Mayhem!

This is a beautiful eulogy of your good friend, Buster. I agree with Jill, "To have a special pet and lose it is better than to never have one at all."

Breezy said...

What a beautiful, sweet post, Kate. I wish I could give you a big hug right this minute. ♥

Nikkole said...

Your post almost brought me to tears. Two years ago we had to say goodbye to our 14 year old Yorkie. I grew up with her so it was hard to imagine not haveing the contrary and sometime very grumpy girl around. Beautiful post though. Stay strong. Remember the memories.