I have Buddy. He was Sam’s dog. For as long as we had Buddy ( almost 19 years), he had ALWAYS been Sam’s dog.
Buddy ended up on our doorstep when he was enroute to the shelter. He had been passed around a group of teenagers for a week or so and no one was able to keep him. He was approx 10 weeks old; scrawny; full of worms ; and homeless. He was the cutest puppy I had ever seen.
I begged my then-husband to let me take him in and find him a home. We didn’t plan on keeping him so rather than give him a name: (to name him would mean to keep him), we just called him Buddy.
We kept him and we named him Buddy.
From early on, he was Sam’s dog. He slept in Sam’s room; in Sam’s bed. They were best buddies. Eventually, when Sam grew up and moved away, it was only fitting that Buddy went with him.
Buddy was never accepted by the woman Sam eventually married. This cute little 15 lb terrier cross annoyed her to no end. She kept him locked up in an unheated room and the only time he was allowed out of that room was when Sam was home and he took him out. She hated everything about this little dog. Even his walking annoyed her ( thus….being locked away from her). Eventually she convinced Sam that they needed a puppy for her son, so they got Theo. He was an Aussie Shep/ Border Collie cross. And Buddy was left even more out of the picture. Sam included Buddy in every way, but as he wasn’t at home as often, it led to him being locked in his dungeon. The few times I visited them in their home, I always believed would be the last visit with Buddy as he never got out of his bed in his isolation. The dog was physically and mentally deteriorating.
Theo had some real insecurities leading to stranger reactivity. His ex wife didn’t know how to handle the dog so it meant quality time at the dog park for Sam, Buddy and Theo. He would go get a ” Timmies” at Tim Hortons, take a ball and off the Three Amigos would go.
Sam and Jackie split up in the early days of Covid. She announced this intent to break up over Christmas Dinner at my ex husband’s house unbeknownst to poor Sam prior. My ex husband’s new wife assured her that she would always be a part of the family. In those months that followed, she heaped so much support on Jackie, and none on my son. It was sickening. The lack of support that Sam received from his father and his step mother during those early months of Covid isolation, was truly mind bending and heart breaking. I can only imagine how it felt for Sam.
That same night, Buddy was severely bitten by a visiting pit bull. The dog was blind in one eye and it’s believed that Buddy startled him when he walked by. Buddy’s forearm was snapped and bone was protruding. Jackie apparently laughed. Sam drove two hours on his own to an after hours emergency vet in Ottawa. He had his arm set and nursed him back to health over the coming weeks. I really figured it was the end of Buddy. In hindsight, it’s ironic now that Buddy is still here, and Sam’s not.
Jackie had been seeing an old high school flame and wanted to be with him regardless that at the time he was awaiting sentencing for drug trafficking and would be going to prison for awhile. ( The relationship was short-lived, as six months after she left Sam for this guy, he died of a drug overdose. )
Theo and Buddy, Blackie ( Jackie’s mothers cat) and a hampster that she had bought her son for his birthday, were left for Sam to care for. When he asked her about returning the cat to the mother, Jackie refused. When he asked her if she would like him to bring the hampster to her son, she told him to find someone with a snake and offer it to them. This is the sick minded person who she was. Sam kept the four pets, eventually finding a home for the cat. The hampster died just days before Sam did.
The morning that Sam took his life, he did it outside the front door on his verandah. Theo and Buddy had been left inside. I can only imagine how those dogs felt: could they sense his panic beyond the door? Did they sense him leave his body?
I don’t know what time of the morning that my son died. His upstairs neighbor found him when he was leaving for work. He cut him down, called 911 and started CPR. He told me that so many emergency vehicles came screaming down the highway to the house.
I noticed last night that Buddy almost panicked when he heard emergency vehicles on the TV. Twice. He is very hard of hearing at his advanced age of 19, and he barely comes to me when I call him. But the sound of emergency vehicles triggered a response in him.
When the police entered Sam’s home, Theo of course was very protective and had to be subdued. The detective that called me, seemed to be pretty upset about having to leave these two dogs in a cold kennel at the SPCA but assured me that they were together. My son Matt picked them up the following morning.
Buddy and Theo stayed with Matt in the early days. Theo would sit looking out the window as if he was waiting for Sam to come and get him. Buddy, just roombad around is his own lost little world.
Sam’s best friend stepped in eventually and offered to take Theo. And three months later, Buddy came out to the west coast to live out his years with me where the climate is much more mild. .
I really didn’t think that Buddy had much time left. He rarely got out of his bed. I had him vet checked and he was treated for a bladder infection. But I figured he was on his last legs.
He has been with me for two months now, and what a change. I’ve come to realize that he had been depressed and that was why he rarely got out of his bed. But Buddy gets noticeably excited now when someone comes to the door. He gets especially excited when I come home from work. Although he can’t keep up, he loves to go for walks with our other two dogs. His nose can smell bacon from a deep sleep, and in the evening: Buddy gets zoomies.
So what I am writing about today is grief, and how it effects the beloved pets of those who have gone on ahead of us. We don’t give them or their feelings and emotions nearly as much credit as they deserve. I used to believe that Sam was safe from suicide because he would never leave his precious dogs behind. Sadly, I know now that mental health has a way of making someone do things that we could never expect. But I know the bond ran deep between my boy and his dogs. And seeing Buddy react to emergency vehicles, and to see him starting to come out of his depression, makes me understand animals on a whole new level.