Today, April 11, is the seventh anniversary of “Buddy’s” passing.
Buddy is always with me, especially on daily walks with our “Ginger” (still with us in her 16th year) and “BJ”, the black Lab mix we adopted after Buddy’s death from cancer. I think of the rides and walks and adventures that he used to share with Ginger, and how his personality differed from BJ’s.
I’m not sure I’ll ever grieve as much or for so long for another dog, and I think I finally know why: Buddy was only 10 or 11 when lymphoma sarcoma killed him. As a rescue we are not sure he even reached 11 years of age. Buddy was not ready to die. He had more living to do. He had not reached the average life expectancy of a Lab—12 to 13 years. And except for this dreaded illness he acquired probably late in 2002, he showed absolutely no signs of slowing down. No loss of enthusiasm for his life—albeit in his stoic little way.
And so, on this anniversary day, I have chosen to pay tribute to Buddy’s memory by honoring someone who’s carried the fight to cure canine cancer to heroic lengths: Luke, a native of Austin, TX, and dog-lover extraordinaire. This man has undertaken a 2,000-mile walk accompanied by his two canine companions, “Hudson” and “Murphy”. I invite you to learn about Luke’s mission by visiting their amazing website. You can also watch a moving video on YouTube.com commemorating this extraordinary endeavor to help our best friends. The captions in the video tell the story in brief, and read nearly like poetry:
Two Dogs, Two Thousand Miles
A cross-country hike from Austin to Boston.
A walk for companion pets;
A walk to commemorate the one’s we’ve lost;
A walk for solace for those who suffer still;
And a walk for a cure.
The walk begins with Hudson, Murphy
and the big dog, too (Luke);
And the love, the courage and the spirit of Malcolm—
with us all the way.
On reading the loving composition from Katie on her Forever Buddy “Heartprint” (see bottom of memorial page), Donna was in tears. She said it was my “best effort” to date.
A significant help to me in creating effective memorials is simply the quality of information content—the factual detail owners provide in their email(s) about their pets: where it lived, where it liked to run, its favorite activities, its siblings, if any, and so on. Here’s an example (with Donna’s permission) of the kind of detail I need to be able to give voice to a beloved pet that’s recently (or otherwise) passed on:
Katie lived her whole life on the Cape—the conservation area behind our house is where she had much fun and lots of adventures chasing and tracking deer and other wildlife. The Cape beaches were also a favorite: Corporation beach in Dennis, Harding beach in Chatham and Nauset beach. She loved all those places…
I could sense from Donna’s emails, of all the Aussies she’s had, how attached she was to Katie—the special chemistry they shared for 11 wonderful years. In addition to the factual detail, it is equally important that I understand the owner’s relationship with the pet, and the intensity of that relationship. Is the owner the “mommy” or “daddy”? Or—as I’ve come to learn from several pet owners—was the pet thought of as a “soulmate”? Here’s another email passage (with Donna’s permission) illustrating how I was able to capture—in Katie’s farewell message to her “mommy”—the quality and spirit of that relationship:
She is with me now in spirit and always will be. Memories and thoughts of my beloved Katie bring tears followed by a smile. A smile—because to Katie—life was an eternal adventure with something new and exciting around every corner! I love all of my girls, but Katie was my Once-In-A-Lifetime dog.
I know she will be waiting for me on the other side, right at the front of the group next to my beloved mare, “Leah”.
Donna very much believes that they will one day be together again. You can read the entire story of Katie’s wonderful life on Cape Cod with her beloved mommy right here.
RJ’s story is one of a young and handsome Golden Retriever and his premature death due to a rare illness. It is heartrending to think that such a wonderful young pup with his energetic and joyous sense of life could be prematurely ended at age two. But it is also the story of kindness and generosity and the sincerest love of dogs you would ever hope to find. Please read RJ’s story on his memorial page here.
Cody was a wonderful neighbor of ours (yours truly—webmaster and family). Although he didn’t see well this past year, he nevertheless always seemed happy to greet our own three dogs. It fills us all with sadness to think about him, but his mommy says he is in a better place now. “Cody, we miss you—you will always be alive in our hearts…” Read all about little Cody here.
Tahoe and little brother, Albert (a two-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) and sister, Sophie (a four-year old Chihuahua) are very much alive and well as of this writing, enjoying a fantastic Cape Cod life in West Barnstable! I took this photo of them in February, 2009, back when they could claim a particular sofa as “theirs”! Read all about it here.
Eddie was the only “child” of my daughter, Julie, and her husband, Jim. He was adopted as a pup from a local vet and had a long and happy life with his “mommy” and “daddy”. It was not all smooth sailing as Eddie had his “issues”—both physical and emotional—cause for no little concern. Some of it alarming, some of it hilarious, you can read all about it here. When his kidneys began to fail at age 14, it was time for Eddie to “cross over Rainbow Bridge” with his memories and dreams, and wait for his mommy and daddy to come to him.
Buddy came into our lives in 1996. Suitably enough, this is the very first post to this website, ForeverBuddy.com, which I have built in honor of this Black Lab mix who left a huge hole in our hearts when we lost him to lymphoma sarcoma on April 11, 2003. A rescue, we don’t know how old he was but we think he was nearly 11. At the time I was distraught to think his life would be cut so short, but—in reality—expert opinion is that the average lifespan for Labrador Retrievers is only 10 to 12 years. At least we had him for nearly seven of his years. Buddy never lost his appetite nor his desire to please nor his wagging tail. He lasted weeks longer than predicted by our vets. He never quit on life even when his breathing became labored from a hugely enlarged spleen. We made the fateful decision on vet’s advice to spare him a terrifying death. Read all about his New Hampshire life here.