We lost our sweet rescue boy, Nevada, lovingly known as Budbud, yesterday, February 19th. He was thirteen.
Pictures (across and down): 1) Chloe & Nevada prancing down the street in Philly after Hurricane Sandy; 2) BudBud in 2009 at Mimi's after he was rescued from the puppy mill; 3) Bud's last day on earth, on his way to the vet wrapped in a Christmas blanket from Grandma; 4) Begging for food at Thanksgiving; 5) Offering sleep support in my writing office with his Christmas hedgehog in 2014; 6) Looking regal on the antique settee in the family room; 7) On the chair in the dining room at a family gathering
Budbud was there for my writing journey from the beginning, which began shortly after I spotted him in a WRAP Whippet Rescue newsletter in November of 2009. He was offered alongside his two puppies, all three had been rescued from a puppy mill. Nevada had been a stud dog. He was seven years old and not the prettiest dog offered. When I spoke to Mimi, his foster mom, I inquired about his puppies. She asked how old Chloe was, at the time she was five and a half, and steered me toward the father. “A puppy will only get on her nerves, an older dog will be more of a companion.” Mimi made a point of sharing how sweet he was and what a lovely gait he had. I was sold, so I packed Chloe in the car and we drove up to upstate New York to take a look. Chloe is an alpha, so her acceptance was important. Lucky for us, he was more than okay with that, and true to Mimi's word – he was a sweet soul. Mimi told me he cried when his puppies were taken away, and was in desperate need of a loving home.
When we got him back to Chatham (where we lived at the time), we had to teach him how to walk up and down stairs. He was afraid of men, cars, loud noises, and didn't know how to play with toys. We were convinced he'd been abused. He latched onto me immediately, and never left my side. Unlike Chloe who was good with people, and lacked canine etiquette, he knew his way around other dogs and wouldn't hesitate to mete out a correction. He loved walks almost as much as he loved food. He slowly relaxed and after a good year, he accepted my husband, Leo, who is a loving animal person, without fear. He and Chloe became great friends, and enjoyed each other's company.
After we got him, it didn't take long for the bed to feel crowded, so we upgraded to a King in order to fit the entire pack. We decided to move to a larger home on 4 acres in 2011, which we named Connaught Glen, and that's when things really changed for Buds. He came out of his shell. In his mind, this place was equally as much his as Chloe's, and he was no longer just invading her turf. We saw him run for the very first time, and sniff the grounds for pleasure. It wasn't unusual for me to let him out at 3 am to potty, and to see this white streak in the darkness happily trotting along sniffing the ground before returning to the front door to go back to bed. He played with a toy for the first time about two years after we moved in, and enjoyed fluffy woodland creatures best – squirrels, hedgehogs, bunnies. I'd find them in the middle of our bed. He'd get one from Chloe and race up two flights of stairs to our bed with it. Eventually, he followed Chloe's social lead and greeted guests as they arrived, accepting pets and treats. Toward the end, he would even push past Chloe to get down the stairs to get to the kitchen first for breakfast.
But the best thing about Buds for me, was he was truly my dog. Although he always gave proper deference to Leo as pack leader, it was me he followed and looked for every step of every day. He would curl up next to me as I wrote, and every morning, he'd come up on my side of the bed and sleep next to me. Then he'd be at my heels from the moment I woke up until I left for work. Even the bathroom wasn't off limits, he had to come in and check that I was all right and give me a lick of reassurance. His routine and feeding times were important to him, it gave him a sense of purpose. His joy was walking with me and hiking with Chloe and my husband. He tried to bring home a deer skull once that he'd found on one of their walks. It was almost as large as his own head, but what the hay. Much to my chagrin, my husband made him leave his treasure behind. I would've liked to have seen it.
I'm so happy that I had the opportunity to love this amazing animal, and to give him the life he so richly deserved in his senior years. He made it to 13, and even in the days preceding his death from cancer that had invaded his body unbeknownst to us, he would still spring straight up into the air as if on a trampoline on the other side our glass side door when I came from work. He thought he was younger than he was…because in his heart, he had to make up for the sad life he'd had before us and Mimi. I'll never know when his pain started. He wore a brave face. It was only his appetite waning those last few days…I'd planned take him to the vet. But yesterday morning, he couldn't walk. He could barely move. That's when I knew something was severely wrong. My husband and I got to stay with him until we had to hand him over for surgery. He got to keep the blanket with him that my mom had bought for Chloe for Christmas with all familiar smells. His was with Chloe.
They thought he'd only swallowed something. But it turned out he had cancer in his spleen that had spread to his small intestine, and it burst the wall. Toxins had invaded his body. He died at 2:35 pm, five minutes before we arrived to say goodbye. He was laid out on the Christmas blanket when we got there, still warm, but just a shell of his former self. Thankfully, he'd been pumped with pain meds and never fully came out from under the anesthesia. I knew in my gut the moment I saw him that morning that I would lose him. Even at 7 am as my husband slept, and I searched for mobile vets on my phone, that these would be some of the last moments I'd have with him… I gave him Reiki as tears streamed down my face listening to his labored breaths.
I picture him in Heaven now, trotting along and sniffing the ground, talking long walks, and having bowls of his favorite kibble. There are so many people up there who I know that would love him as much as I did, and who will keep him company until I come home. I imagine him jumping up straight in the air with his canine smile when he sees me, just as he always has… with no pain and sheer joy. He will always live in my heart.
In loving memory of my Budbud, the most loyal, sweet writer hound anyone could ever ask for. Hug your pets in his memory. If you haven't been blessed with having a canine companion, please consider a rescue. The reward is more than you could ever imagine. You would be truly blessed if you ended up with a friend like my Buds.