They say a dog is man's best friend. I for one believe it. How else can it be? On Friday I lost my best friend. It was my choice albeit one I hated. My best friend Buster had been around for over 15 years and from what I understand outlived the average age for his size by about 3 years. Buster was a german shepherd/ border collie mix and was as friendly as any dog can possibly get.
I cannot even count the many times when I was having a bad day that I could turn to Buster and no matter the situation he would run up beside me wagging his tail, and asking for nothing in return other than an acknowledgement that he was there, whether through a pat on the head, or a rub of his belly, and through his calming presence I would find a way to see light at the end of the tunnel. He had a knack for knowing when something was wrong and helping you feel better about it.
Whether just walking up and wagging his tail or jumping in your lap to shower you with affection all seemed better after he came to you.
Dogs are funny that way. They are our children and family member with an unconditional love to offer that many take for granted or simply cannot understand. I understand it. Pets are our children in every way that matter.
They depend on us for food, shelter, and love. That is what most pets crave most, the same unconditional love that they offer so freely, and without qualifications. They offer themselves to us and never ask for anything in return.
Buster was no exception to that. He offered himself unconditionally his entire life for me, my wife, and my kids. He was as much my son as my human ones are. He was my baby. I fed him, sheltered him, and kept him safe.
That was my job. He deserved everything good I could possibly give him.
I first met Buster when he was 4 months old at the Kentucky Humane Society. He had been picked up and had been abused. He took one look at my wife and I and immediately we knew he was "the one." You could see the love flow throughout his whole being in that one quick look. But there was always a problem in my opinion. That is because he remembered the abuse he suffered through as a new puppy his whole life. Any time you would drop your hand to pet him he immediately dropped his head and after 15 years he still did that. Anyone who would abuse an animal deserves to be abused themselves in my opinion.
I still wish I could find the person who abused him and return the favor to this day.
When Buster was young he would run with the best of them. He could play for hours and we did play for hours. He never met a stranger and treated all people equally. He truly was the best of the best in my opinion. But that had to end at some point.
Over the last couple of years Buster had gotten to the point he could no longer run and play. He spent the majority of his time just laying around and sleeping, getting up long enough to eat, go to the bathroom, get some love, and then sleep again. The last couple of months Buster had gotten to the point where even that became a chore.
He could no longer get up on his own requiring help to stand up and move around. We had to carry him off the porch so he could go to the bathroom and walk in the yard for the few minutes he was able to. He wasn't in pain but it clearly was a situation that he could not handle anymore. Hip displacia and arthritis had finally practically crippled my best friend who used to run and play so much.
Finally a couple of weeks ago his burden became too great even for him. He was no longer able to help himself in any way, wasn't eating much, and it became unbearable for him to walk around or even be able to lie around and sleep. In short, he was finally in pain and it was obvious. He would bark a couple of times every hour on the hour just so someone would stand him up and help him move if even just a couple of inches in his quest for sleep without pain.
It is funny in a sense that in the end stages of life that we as humans are allowed to suffer, and in many cases forced to suffer, and have no quality of life at all. For Buster because he was an animal we had a choice to make.
Should we put him to rest humanely and stop his suffering, though it would hurt us to see him go, or do we allow him to live on knowing we could do something to help end his pain? In the case of Buster at least we had a choice that we could make for him.
I loved Buster with all my heart and I always will but to allow him to suffer after giving his whole life to me and my human family would have been wrong. I will miss him for the rest of my life as he truly was one of a kind.
Anyone who has known this type of love from their pet will understand. Anyone who knows this type of love will also understand that this is not a pet but a family member.
On Friday I chose to give my best friend the ultimate last act of unconditional love I could give him.
Freedom from this life of pain he had started to suffer through. I know somewhere in my heart it was the right thing to do, but I also know it was a lousy choice to have to make, and I will always remember Buster and this decision I was forced into.
Though it was hard to make that decision I believe it was the right one for my animal son and friend Buster. He came into this world and was abused by someone else. To allow him to suffer would have made me the abuser and that would not be fair to this dog who brought so much joy and so many fond memories into our hearts.
Today I say Goodbye to my friend until we meet again.
I will sorely miss you........