When you first get a puppy everyone tells you what to expect as far as training them, what food to give them, what tricks to teach them-but no one tells you what to expect when you have to say goodbye to them. I mean why would they? You just got your best friend, you don’t want to hear how heartbroken you will be when you lose your pup. Recently I had to face that heartbreaking moment when I gave my nine year old golden retriever Buddy his last kiss goodbye. I don’t think I have felt so utterly lost in that single moment then any other time in my life. Some may say that is just nonsense, and of course there are worse things than losing your dog. But for my family and I, he wasn’t just ‘a dog’ – he was our best friend, our family.
Although I felt like my world was crumbling around me when cancer took the life of my best guy, I realized that I had probably learned more from this 90+ pound fur ball than I had from some of the most educated people. I had PLEADED with my parents at thirteen to get me a dog. My aunt had Golden’s, and I wanted my own more than anything in the world. On June 31st, 2006 my dream came true when I got to go to the breeder and pick out the most handsome, big pawed, high energy pup of the bunch. He reminded me instantly of Air Bud from the movies, and I knew Buddy (although not very original) needed to be his name. As a puppy, he was an absolute terror. He walked me instead of me walking him, the couch was his bed not his crate, and he knew exactly how to annoy you with those awful squeaky toys. But, he was also the smartest, most protective, and loving dog I could have ever asked for.
From the time I was thirteen until now at twenty-three, Buddy was there. He was there for every single monumental moment in my life. He jumped on all of my friends as we got ready for all of our dances, he saw me come down in my prom dress, in my graduation gowns, and was always at the door to great me when I came back home. He was all of our shadows, our protector, and our lap dog (all 90+ pounds of him).
So, when the day came for me to say goodbye to him I thanked him for being this ever present, loving, snuggling guy in my life. He taught me the true meaning of love before any one person or one man in my life could. No matter what mood I was in, no matter how awful my day was, no matter who hurt me- Buddy was there. Some may laugh and say of course, you feed and walk him why wouldn’t he be there. But, until you have the relationship with this thing that no matter how broke, ugly, awkward, shy, or down you are- you can’t understand. Who knew that through our nine years together, that I would learn so much from a dog? I definitely didn’t, but I’m forever grateful for it. I learned how to care for someone other than myself, I learned how to love unconditionally (even if he ripped holes in all of my socks), I learned to put someone before myself, and I learned that dogs are not just there to learn from us but from us to learn from them as well.
We most certainly need our dogs just as much as they need us, so never take that bond for granted. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not spent almost ten years of my life with a dog named Buddy-my lap dog, my cookie stealer, my dance my partner, and my best best guy.