Lost and Found

Buddy is our black Lab mix.  Our oldest got him when she was sixteen, nearly ten years ago.  She called home one day asking if she could have a puppy.  We told her yes, as long as he stayed outside and all care was provided by her.

She brought home a horse, not a puppy.  This thing was so huge!  She swore at the time that she was told he was only six months old.

This dog ate everything in sight.  Not just my plants, either.  He ate the planters, too.  When he was about two or three years old, we watched in horror as he ate a light-bulb.  I kid you not, this dog ate everything.

Both girls fell in love with him immediately.  He’s now an inside dog while my husband provides for most of his care.  When the oldest moved out, she left Buddy with us instead of taking him with her.  When she moved back in, she brought another dog, too.  Then my husband had two dogs to care for – both of them inside.

We think Buddy has a bit of Rottweiler in him, though just enough to make him a little shorter and stockier.  Otherwise, he looks like any other black Lab running around.  He’s great with kids, barks at anything, and takes a squirrel’s scurry as a personal affront.

Buddy loves nothing better than to be petted.  It took us quite some time to convince him that he was not a lap dog.

He’s also very protective.  When each of the grand-kids was born, he slept by the bassinet, and made a point to lay in the floor by the couch when one of them was sleeping on it.  When he walked us to the car, he stayed beside whoever had the baby.  He barks at the neighborhood to let them know that his family is protected, and he guides our vehicles down the hill to see us safely to the main road.

In direct opposition to Ogee, who you might remember from one of my previous posts, Buddy is rather smart.  He has an almost regal way of communicating with just the nod of a head, or the turn of a shoulder, to let us know exactly what he’s thinking.

He went missing a few years ago.  Not being able to find him drove our youngest out of her mind with worry.  She was only about thirteen at the time.  Both she and my husband had a sneaking suspicion that I’d taken Buddy to the pound myself.   My daughter was more vocal about it than he was, though.  While I was not responsible for Buddy’s disappearance, I simply was not missing him like they were.

We never knew why he disappeared, and after posting his picture all over the area and two or three trips to the shelter, we were finally shown a photo album that contained what could have been Buddy’s picture.  It had been about a month since his disappearance and I was certain that it wasn’t Buddy at all.  My youngest, however, held onto hope like it was her last breath.  We phoned the number and received an invitation to come and see.

I tried to talk her out of it, saying that it couldn’t possibly be him after all this time, but she was desperate to find out.  I may not be a wonderful pet owner, but I like to think I’m a good mom.  So off we went on our adventure to follow complicated directions to see a dog that may or may not be our Buddy.

The neighborhood where my daughter and I were going wasn’t that far away, but it contained a lot of intersecting and curvy roads.  We meticulously followed the directions we were given and stopped in front of a nice house with a small front yard.  Buddy sat in the middle of the lawn as though he’d been expecting us.

My youngest fell to her knees on the ground in front of Buddy, and he let her hug his great big neck with all the patience of a saint while she bawled her eyes out in joy that she’d finally found him.  After a moment, he gently placed his massive paw on her chest and looked her in the eye, as if to say, “It’s okay; I’m here.”

It was all a very touching scene to behold.  The lady who’d found him was crying just watching the two of them.  Even I was crying.  Not so much for finally finding Buddy; I could have done without that, personally.  But rather for seeing the calm settle over my daughter at having found him.  Now she would have some peace.

We’d assumed that Buddy had simply wandered off, but this place was fifteen to twenty miles away from home.  The lady said that when she saw Buddy he was clean and not at all bedraggled as though he’d walked for miles.  His collar was gone when she’d found him, but he wasn’t even hungry.  Now we think somebody picked him up in an attempt to steal him, and maybe later changed their mind.  We will probably never know.

Despite my best efforts to convince the lady that she could keep Buddy, neither she nor my daughter would listen to my well-reasoned advice.

I opened the back door of my car, exposing the back passenger seat.  Buddy hopped in and took his place, panting as if anxious to be on our way, yet waited patiently while I took off the lady’s leash.  When we got home, it was as though he’d never left.

That was almost five years ago.  Buddy’s still with us, although we don’t know how much longer we’ll have him.  He’s already ten years old, and the signs of age are showing in his ever whitening beard and roughened elbows.  Where he used to lope up the porch steps like a big old bear, he now limps and hobbles and waddles.  He still barks to let the neighborhood know that we’re under his protection, but you can see him think twice before he guides us off the hill.  He knows that once he’s down there, he’ll have the long trek back up.

And once in a while, after he’s had a bath, he’ll come and sit by me.  If nobody’s looking I’ll even pat his big old head a little, and maybe scratch an ear.

But don’t tell my kids.  I really don’t want another dog.




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