Monday, March 06, 2006
A Room With A View
I'm looking out my newly installed bedroom window at the darkness of the evening. When daylight comes, from my desk, I'll be able to see the small grave of our dog Buddy down in the corner of the back lawn. Several small rocks outline it's perimeter.
Paige posted a little poem on our blog in his honor a few days before he died. I think she knew the end was near. I thought it was a good one, from her heart. And I have been so inspired tonight as well.
I was traveling last week to Las Vegas for a training session, when I received the phone call from Mrs. Arkanblogger, telling me that Buddy had apparently suffered some strokes, causing similar conditions to the ones he experienced a year ago. He had recovered from those, with a few lingering after effects. When I got back home later in the week and took a look at the shape he was in, it was clear to me that our dog's time here was done.
Even so, he belonged to us all and we gathered together as a family in our den to weigh the matter out. There were consequences either way and I wanted the children to take something away from this. I wanted them to know that they can't always just use circumstances as an excuse to get rid of a perceived problem in their lives. So we discussed it and were all in agreement to have him put down based on our veterinarian's assessment.
We went to the vet's office and said our goodbyes. Many tears were shed as we each got one last lick on the nose from the old boy. It was overwith quickly. He was buried before sundown the next day. A proper funeral for an Israelite pet. Christopher and I dug the grave and wrapped him in a white sheet. We each said a prayer of thanksgiving and Christopher tossed the first spade of dirt into the grave. He kept asking me, "is this what men do?" and I told him, "yes, son, it certainly is."
The next day, our entire family took a trip that we had previously planned to the Ozarks and as we were leaving, it was the first time in 12 years that we didn't check Buddy's water and food before we walked out the door. There's no more food and water dish in the laundry room. They were donated to the local animal shelter. Just an empty spot on the floor, where they used to sit. I stood and looked at the little spot where he slept, before I locked up the house and left. I thought about him on the drive to North Arkansas that evening, recalling his gentle nature. He never snapped at our children...or any other children in our home. Not once. He looked like a true "McTavish" with his long beard and argyle sweater on in the wintertime. He allowed all of our children to go to sleep with their heads on him from time to time and was patient with them when, as small children, they pet him a little too rough or tugged his ears out of playfulness.
Looking back, he had his faults too. Mainly being a male dog that, despite being "trained", liked to mark his territory in his master's home from time to time. Unfortunately for Buddy, his master was in the flooring business and paid particular attention to the carpeting. But, despite it all, I will miss the little grey guy.
He kept me company on a few long car trips and when all the Arkanblogger family, excepting he and I, went visiting to Montana a time or two. He sat on my lap and went to sleep many a time, while I was working at my desk. I tried to respect his "doghood" and on occasion, when no one was looking, I'd shake a squirrel out of a tree for him to stretch his legs on. Once I even let him out of the house to go after the neighborhood cat, as it tempted him by slouching past our front door one too many times. He looked like a cougar running after that thing. I knew he could never catch it. The cat was too agile and smart. But it was simply beautiful to watch the chase. He was doing what God made him to do best. Recalling that, always makes me smile and it's a mental picture that I'll hold onto.
So here's to Buddy the Wonderdog. May your feet be swift and the squirrels be a plenty.