My dear friends,
I write to you in sorrow, as our lives are no longer enriched by the society
of our beloved friend “Buddy.” An orange and white Brittany, we called
him “pretty boy” because he was. He was beautiful judged by any trait or
manner, physical or otherwise, that accompanied his being.
During a recent visit to our home Buddy’s veterinarian, Ellen, a gifted
healer, told us she has seldom encountered an animal that is mis-named.
Rather, be it providence or not, most animals seem to attract a name that
comports completely with their “personalities” – who they are. Never was this
more evident than with our Buddy, as his name was a perfect marker of his
worldly purpose; it seemed he knew that his time with us would have an
enlightening, refining effect upon our lives. Buddy taught us much about
As is the case with virtually all dog owners, Jean and I believe that Buddy
had few, if any, faults. Of course, he had a very discerning palate – he ate most
any food that wasn’t moving. Try as we might we could not get him to savor his
food. Two chews and a swallow pretty much disposed of any tasty morsel. If he
had a failing, however, it was his inability to comprehend that Brittanys are world-
renowned bird dogs. For reasons unknown, Buddy could not engage that genetic
predisposition. For example, though we worked with him on this, he knew not
what to do with a ball once he retrieved it. Having picked it up, it never crossed
his consciousness to bring it back to the tosser. Thus, as a retriever, he was
clueless! Having said that, I dearly wish that you could have seen him in the early
years of his life. We would take him to expanses of land to let him run as he
wished. An antelope bounding across the Serengeti could not rival his grace.
I was taught that only humankind is deeded souls, the beacon of love as
we know it, the heartlight. But did not the Lord also create Buddy and in doing so
infuse in him characteristics that in you or me are called virtues? Devotion and
When Jean was out of the house, Buddy would take up a vigil in the
garage, waiting for her return. Several years ago Jean was away for six weeks –
there was Buddy curled up on his bed in the garage, waiting for his “mommy’s
return. All day every day for six weeks! I guess he viewed steadfast loyalty as his
job and he carried it out perfectly.
William Saroyan writes that every person in this world is better than
someone else and not as good as someone else. Buddy seemed only aware of
the first part of that teaching. Without our human tendency to judge, Buddy was
not burdened with judging one act or another as a misstep or a mistake. Rather,
he brought endearing qualities to a relationship few of us could match. He simply
adored us and all we did. Is it any wonder we loved him so?
Dogs are creatures of habit. Yet no matter how often they relive an act do
we not find it as endearing as the first time it lifted our spirits? Jean writes in her
journal each morning in bed before she starts the day. When Jean took out her
journal Buddy would come to the side of the bed waiting for permission to join
her. Upon getting Jean’s assent, Buddy would leap on the bed and get as close
to her as possible. If an animal could obtain a state of perfect bliss it was our
Buddy during this early-morning ritual.
Ask a dog owner what it is that makes their canine companion so special
and they may start with this observation, “Look in his eyes—you’ll see.” When
you looked into Buddy’s eyes, you received in return a reflection of his inherent
goodness. In this way his “return” made him a perfect retriever. Specifically,
Buddy’s loving glance showed us his naïveté to the ills and evils entrenched in
society. Perhaps we should each pray that we may grow into just such a naïveté
rather than deriding it as errant simplicity, a quality useless in solving society’s
One final story – About ten months ago, we decided to downsize homes.
We spoke to a number of realtors and were told by some that part of the protocol
of showing the home meant we would need to put Buddy in a kennel in the
garage. We did not heed that advice. And when prospective buyers were asked
for comments on our home, the comments varied – except for one. Universally
the respondents asked a question – Does the dog come with the house?
I suppose at the end of the day little more need be said. Losing a dear
friend really hurts!