Today I took Buzz to the vet and he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Buzz at the vet about two weeks ago. The band around his leg is where he was shaved by the emergency vet for the IV.
There are lots of memories, many laughs, smiles and yes, many sorrows in this.
When my ex-wife and I adopted Buzz we were warned that he was probably going to have problems because of the severe abuse he had been rescued from. They had concerns about him being around children and possible aggression.
They were wrong. This was a gentle, loving dog who needed a gentle loving home to become his “pack.”
Buzz and I in my ex-wife's backyard this spring.
Initially, that is not what he got. He got me, a raging alcoholic at the tail end of a cycle of denial. I don’t think I was ever abusive to him (I remember very little of 2000 into early 2001. I got sober on February 2, 2001 and things got a little clearer then) but then, just living with a full-blown alcoholic is abusive.
Buzz made it through and was with me in those early months of sobriety. And he was his kind, gentle self and whether or not he knew it sometimes just being able to pet his soft fur was a kind of therapy to me. It helped keep me sane when I was smelling vodka everywhere.
Men were always Buzz’ bane - big, white men with deep voices terrified him and that remained true until he passed. Black or Hispanic men, well, he was not crazy about them but he could endure them. It was only white men who sent him into a hysterical barking frenzy, cowering behind my legs, shivering. Other signs of his abuse remained with him. Until the end of his life anytime I picked up a broom, mop or shovel, he cowered in a corner.
Crates were another one. Initially after adoption my then wife and I wanted to crate train him. That was not going to happen. Buzz would cower, back into a corner and roll on his back showing teeth when it came time to get into the crate. We gave that up. A crate was not a safe space for this dog.
But those are kind of the bad times and I want to tell you about the good times. Like the time when it snowed – down here in Dallas we don’t get much snow and when it does get cold we tend to see ice rather than snow. One winter… 2004 or 2005, I forget which… we got snow, a crazy blanket of snow and a steady flow of big wet snowflakes. Buzz had never seen snow before and I took him out wondering how he would react.
It was pure magic – the dog went wild. Buzz loved the snow! He ran around and around and around on his leash and then unleashed. He rolled on his back in it, buried his muzzle in soft, white flakes and would snort, sending tiny plumes into the air. Some kids, out of school, came out to play and I was nervous – how would Buzz react to kids yelling and playing? Snow made it special. There were no problems. Buzz bounded and bounced amongst the kids, having what I believe was the time of his life.
I never saw Buzz quite so carefree ever again, even when it snowed. He always loved snow but that first time was special.
Buzz always loved other dogs, so in 2006, we got him his own dog, Zoey (of course, she was her own dog too). Buzz adored and worshipped her from day one which was not a good thing. Zoey developed quite an important opinion of herself, one she retains to this day. But Buzz enjoyed having a fellow dog in the pack. The two cats, Smokey and Thelma, were okay, but not the real deal.
My wife and I had a daughter and there was much concern based on what we had been warned at the animal shelter – how would Buzz react to a child? No worries at all. Buzz accepted her as a member of the pack and put up with much abuse from Anwen as she grew through infancy to toddlerhood and then into a full blown little girl. There was never a problem although he clearly disliked having his afternoon naps disturbed by a three year old wanting to play.
Buzz loved his family. He lived for the five of us. When my wife and I divorced, I think it broke his heart. He enjoyed having Zoey and I all to himself but when my ex came over to drop off my daughter he would almost get hysterical with excitement.
The end was not good. Buzz began to lose his hearing and his vision. I was forced to travel more for work. Buzz started becoming hysterical when I would leave the house. If you want details see part one, part two, part three and part four of these diaries.
The final straw was two days ago. Knowing the end was near I took the day off of work to spend with him. We did not do much, just kind of lots of petting, lots of treats and lots of short naps. But we were together all day.
Around five in the evening I became aware that I needed to eat and ran to the store to get food. I was gone less than thirty minutes. In that time he broke the cover that “locks” the doggie door closed. I got phone calls while in the store that my dog was out and went to get him and found him wandering a high traffic street aimlessly. Buzz recognized me but he did not recognize my car.
It was time. I could no longer keep him safe for even a few minutes.
This morning we went to the vet together, just Buzz and I, no Zoey. Buzz knew this time was different. We never go anywhere without Zoey. I went to the vet and held him while he was anesthetized. He rested his head in my lap and I petted him. I cried. They gave him the injection.
It was over.
Goddess, eleven years is just too short a time.
Special thanks go out to all the Kossacks who had suggestions for how I could help him. You are all wonderful.
5:34 PM PT: Thank you for the rec list. Selfish or not, I really wanted Buzz to make the list. I want people to see him and read about him playing in the snow. I also want them to know it is not cruel to euthanize a suffering animal.
In fact, sometimes it is cruel we cannot euthanize suffering people. But that is a different diary on a different topic.
I'm off to spoil Zoey with some ham.