InSights: In Memory of Buddy~

I joined the ASPCA today for $25 & added their link to my blog. I am doing this for two reasons: In memory of a dog named Buddy, a Great Pyrenees. {This is not his picture. However, he looked similar but with a longer snout & body.} Secondly, I feel it is time for me to choose a personal cause, in order to give back to the community.

"The Great Pyrenees is a dog that goes back thousands of years to the stark, mountainous regions of France and Spain. The Basque shepherds to guard their flocks from wild predators and connivers and thieves used them for centuries. They were used by the French Royal Court and allied and axis powers during World War II. These beautiful dogs carried and hauled artillery and supplies over rough mountain paths." I loved when I found out that his breed had French roots!

Unfortunately, Great Pyrenees are often abandoned for their size. I was not told nor did I ever find out what the story was behind Buddy. Although my time with him was short, I have deep love for him & think of him often. Like so many of us, I truly love animals.

There isn't a creature on earth that is more compassionate & loving than the dog in my book. Dogs are there for us, for me, for people who live in terrible conditions, for the elderly, for the lonely, for the depressed, for the sick, for the misunderstood, for the wealthy, for the children, for the cast away. Heck! For the happy, for the every day guy & girl! Dogs are there to help absorb the trials of the day, the blunders of governments and the trauma that life sometimes causes. They are also there to celebrate life with those cute hats & bandannas we adorn them with! They are drawn to us. They love us unconditionally. They don't care about how we look, what we've achieved or what our shortcomings are. They provide warmth & are a soothing blanket to many of our lives and to the lives of others who struggle or who are enduring war, famine, and disease. They are loyal & loving. They are usually ready & willing to play whenever you want. But, *No*, they don't always behave unless you are Cesar Milan, *Dog Whisperer*. However, they are worth most of their trouble!

Last year, I fell madly in love with this dog while driving by our local animal shelter. I did a double-take, after seeing this amazing creature standing proudly in the backyard of the shelter. He seemed to be about the size of a horse! I am relatively good about recognizing the various breeds of dogs. I even studied them on my own, as a little girl, paging through the encyclopedia & would often *play vet*, not *doctor*! Anyway, I continued driving passed the shelter that day, although I was sooo tempted to stop. Two weeks had passed by & the dog continued to cross my mind! I thought for sure someone would have snatched him up!one afternoon, I was out running errands with my children & said, "Hey!? Do you all want to stop by and look at the animals in the shelter?" "Noooooooo, Mom! Don't stop!" {They know I'm soft-hearted about dogs.} But I did it anyway, with a smile on my face. I wanted to see if that amazing animal was still there. I walked down the dog isle, turned the corner of the back isle & to my inner satisfaction, he was still there! He was in the corner pen, laying on the concrete floor & looked up at me with soulful eyes. Although the shelter is relatively new, with a great staff of people, it naturally saddened me to see such a beautiful animal with no home yet. There were others that I could have taken home with me as well, along with a few cats I liked. His name was posted on the sign of his kennel, "Buddy". How could someone give up a Buddy??? I hurriedly walked up to the desk to ask if we could see him. They brought him out of the kennel & handed me the leash. He was easily lead & well-mannered. My heart was skipping happy, little beats! He sat down in the middle of the hallway, looking at me with his heartful, wolf-face. I knelt down & felt an immediate, strong connection with him, began petting him & gave him a big hug around his neck. He let me. He was an enormous dog to me! The staffer noticed that he had quickly bonded to me as well. She said that he had a special way with people. He was twice the size of a golden retriever & up to my hip. I didn't care -- I wanted him. Yes, I had three dogs. Yet, this dog was waiting for a home & momma had arrived!!! "Dad is gonna be mad..." my son said. But I could tell that he liked him too. Jessica was even a bit concerned about him & Marty's reaction. Typically, she's supportive of bringing home animals. We usually do this together! I completed the paperwork, joyfully, excitedly! I felt good doing something to help.

He trotted out to the car & happily loaded up in the small back seat. The kids were laughing. I thought, "What an absolutely gorgeous breed! OMG, Marty is gonna kill me! He's huge! What am I doing!?!?!" I wondered, "Why hadn't he found a home?" We have an acre of land with a good-sized fenced yard. We proceed into the house. The introduction to Chief, my male Maltese, did not go well. I felt an uneasiness. Chief thought he was the size of Buddy. Buddy wasn't goin' for it. I kenneled Chief & they proceeded to angrily, aggressively bark through the kennel. Now, I realize that this introduction should have occurred on neutral ground. I can understand Chief's dismay, Buddy was a beast, after all! He really did look part wild to me with a bit of a hump in the middle of his nose like a wolf! My big ol', *wolf dog*! I renamed him, *Bozier* but that didn't stick, it went back to *Buddy*. That afternoon, I took Buddy upstairs to my office over our garage. He was on the leash and happily followed me upstairs & laid down on the floor beside me while I worked on bedding designs. I was happy to have him there. I could not understand why anyone would abandon a dog like this. It boggled my mind! Seriously! He was so good!

Weeks passed, I figured out ways to maneuver the dogs & keep them all happy. Yet, I had major, lingering concerns. Buddy had *taken down* my lab-chow twice in those weeks, displaying aggressive-dominance around food. Sammy had been involved in a few scuffles in her time & knew that he meant business, so she laid down on the floor & promptly offered her neck. It was disturbing but I remained calm, spoke easily to them & somehow managed to turn Buddy's attention away. I hoped that the pecking order would calm down between them all. Poco, my female Maltese, should be in politics. She has no trouble getting along with other dogs & has a maternal ability to *get in between scuffles* with my smaller dogs & break-up any hint of aggressive play or behavior. She'll scold & promptly punish whoever is causing the trouble & for whatever reason, they submit to her! It's really funny! She's smart. She didn't cross his path & I think he kind of liked her. So, she & Buddy got along OK. Sammy bleakly tolerated Buddy. I watched Chief closely if Buddy were nearby & for the most part separated them inside & outside the house by taking turns.

Buddy started coming into his own around the family & in the yard. He had a very, very loud, deeply serious bark. He was very accepting of family & friends. People instantly adored him. Norma & her hubby, Bill, came over the day I brought him home. I was beaming with delight! They are also dog lovers. They liked him & thought he was lovely but were secretly concerned about his size. He became more territorial about our yard. Pyrenees are working dogs. They are very independent & since they were used as shepherd dogs in the French mountains, they would be left alone for long periods of time to watch over the herd. I noticed this *independence trait* in Buddy. Although he was exceptionally loyal, smart & could do tricks on command, he would only do them if *he wanted to*. Like, putting this dog into the bathtub just wasn't gonna happen! At the bathtub mark, I KNEW I was going to have to get a trainer for him. He promptly sat down, pressed his butt against the wall & absolutely, under no circumstance, would not budge!

Buddy needed something to protect - he chose our house & yard. One of my vendors in particular was a bit fearful of him & Buddy would not relent on his barking, although I commanded, "Buddy, no!" When inside our house, if anyone came to the door, he'd start barking. It truly was a bad habit of his & I was not sure how to break it. Then, he began to jump on my window seals, putting deep scratches in them. I proceeded to put towels on them all, so they wouldn't become completely ruined. There was a day when our daughter, Jessica, was alone in the house. A young, suspicious looking man knocked on the door & asked for money. Why Jessi opened the door is beyond me!? We've told the kids over & over & over & over, "Do not open the door to strangers under any circumstances." He continued to press her for money; Buddy continued his intense barking - the man left, fortunately for us. Sometimes you wonder if it was meant for Buddy to be at our home that day. He was an awesome guard dog.

One weekend, I decided to go to my daughter's soccer game, nearby my sister's in Oklahoma City & stayed with her to visit. I took Poco with me, as my driving companion, simply because she is easy & travels well. I checked in with my family. Mason had informed me that "Buddy & Chief had become friends!" I grew concerned, knowing that they were deep rivals. "Oh really?" "Yea, he was in the yard all day with Chief and they got along great!" My mind started turning - one side of me very worried, the other side was hopeful. I never allowed them to be together unattended. Perhaps, I thought, since I was away, they didn't feel as competitive towards each other. Later that evening, I called home again. Marty answered. Remember, Marty is MR. C-A-L-M. There was no calm in his voice. I've never heard him sound the way he did that night on the phone. He sounded frustrated, angry, out of control & scared. "What's wrong?" ... I instinctively could tell something major was happening. Then, I heard the dogs fighting in the background. The kids were yelling. Marty started shouting loudly at Buddy & at our kids. I could hear the tone of Marty's voice increasing in intensity & trying to intimidate Buddy, to no avail. "Buddy has a hold of Chief & won't let go!!!" "No!!! Make him let go of him!" "I can't! He won't let loose!" I screamed, "Nooo ... he's going to kill Chief!" My sister hurried in to see what the problem was & I hung up the phone petrified with fear that my little Chief was going to be killed by Buddy. I walked around in circles beside myself, not wanting to see the visions of the attack that were splintering my mind. The phone rang a few minutes later. Marty was breathing very quickly & heavily, remorsefully concerned. "Is he okay?" "I don't know... he's still alive... he's laying on the floor & isn't moving..." "Can he move? Can he move? Is he paralyzed? Be careful when you pick him up!" I worried, trying to figure out the extent of damage, a little relieved that at least he was still alive. "Get him to the Vet, NOW! Take him NOW! I'll call Dr. Bitter!" I reinforced my command, knowing Marty might "wait and see" how Chief would do. And I knew that Chief was facing serious injury from the little but powerful sounds & information I had gathered over the phone.

Marty had tried kicking Buddy off, after Buddy's refusal to release Chief's neck. Buddy had been shaking Chief around like a rag doll & knocking his head into the table. My kids saw this. I felt sick inside. Fortunately, Marty used a trick I used to get Chief & Buddy to stop barking {fighting} at each other through the kennel by throwing water on them. Marty scrambled to get some water and threw it on Buddy which made him release. It saved Chief's life in the end. Buddy had clamped down & was not going to let Chief go. Additionally, Marty & my kids, seeing the brutal, stubborn attack were scared that he may turn on them. But he did not, he luckily released Chief & left the room with Chief laying in the corner of the kitchen.

I frantically called my vet panicked & began talking to him about the attack. I couldn't handle what I felt the outcome was going to be. My loyal, little dog was going to die because of me ... I told Cheri I couldn't handle talking about it & she took charge of the conversation. I can always rely on my sister to take charge, it's a quality we've inherited from Mom. I was too distraught to talk. Her nerves were also frazzled, but she took the call with a compassionate confidence. She has a male Maltese named Astro. And like Chief, he loyally sits with Cheri & follows her everywhere. Cheri knew firsthand how I felt about Chief. "Hi, Dr. Bitter... This is Cheri, Julie's sister..." She explained the situation, while Marty was back home driving directly to the clinic. My niece stood by listening, offering comfort & let me hold her stuffed animal that resembled Chief. I felt terrible that I couldn't be there to help him. It was a long evening. I could not fall asleep. I waited for Marty to call about Chief's condition. The good news ... Chief survived. He had some deep puncture wounds to the neck & under his arm that barely missed primary arteries, dislocated, bruised ribs & head trauma that has left him with occasional seizures & pain. He was hospitalized for a few days & nights. The 1st two nights he returned home from the vet clinic, I monitored his irregular breathing while he lay in bed with me. I felt terrible guilt. I'm sure it hurt for him to breath with the bruised ribs even while on pain medicine.

Returning home from Oklahoma City, I knew that Buddy would have to go back to the same animal shelter I had earnestly wanted to *save him from*. I couldn't do it myself. I loved Buddy. He was truly a good dog. We just weren't the right fit for him. He was perfect for me in some unexplainable way. I can't convey exactly how I felt about him here. I loved trotting him around. I loved watching Marty jog up the hill with Buddy padding along. I loved when he'd wake me in the morning with his big head placed gently on my chest. I loved when he'd nuzzle into me. He'd followed me around. He'd lay at my feet while I watched TV with Chief on my lap. I did not have the emotional gumption or fortitude to return him. I called the shelter to inform them, regrettably, about the incident & had my daughter take him back before I returned home from my trip. I knew if I saw him, that I'd try to figure out a way to *make it work*. I knew for Chief's survival and possibly the safety of my other animals, it was best for Buddy to go back. I could not fully trust him.

This has been a tough life lesson for me. I should have given my family strict instructions to keep them separated before I left. I should have had a separate fenced area for him. Perhaps, I should have returned him the first day - but I wanted it to work. We believe the fight was over food. I should have made sure Buddy's appetite was always quenched & that he ate separately from the other dogs. I did separate them for the most part. But maybe I should have been feeding him boiled chicken or something! I would imagine that Buddy was very territorial about food for reasons unknown to us. Or, perhaps, Chief instigated it because he felt Buddy was on his turf. I am sure it was a combo of everything. I have had multiple dogs before & they've always merged into a pack. Buddy was such a gentle, loving dog to me that I never imagined he would be that aggressive, when I first picked him out. The rift between him & Chief were obvious. His aggressive behavior toward Sammy a concern. I genuinely hoped that with love & training, we would be able to work it out. I was in over my head. His pure size & strength was not something I could manage. Not even, Marty, who is a very strong man. I genuinely believe that with training Buddy could have been rehabilitated. I did learn that he had been adopted out prior to me & returned. I bought books on training dogs & read them while he was with us. So, I was well-aware that he had issues but I truly wanted to give this animal the love he deserved.

So, the decision was a difficult one that I still feel an enormous amount of heartbreak about. I still miss him very much & I think of him quite often, although several months have passed. After returning him, I monitored his activity at the shelter hoping that they would find him a home. He was there for what I believe to be at least a month. I had been told that a young couple was interested in him. I also recognized that he absolutely adored the woman taking care of him there. I told her that she should take him home with her but she couldn't. I was a bit jealous that he showed her special treatment & behavior but I was glad he had some love there. Days later, I was told by a different staff member that he had been adopted. I was happy & relieved. I actually went back to check on how he was doing with his new family, secretly hoping the new owners would let me visit. The same woman I talked to that Buddy adored said, "I feel like I need to be honest with you. They put Buddy asleep." I started crying. The breath was knocked out of me. My heart sank into the pit of my stomach. I know he just needed the right home. He needed a one-pet owner with a big yard or a lot of land who needed a good watch dog because Buddy was loyal. She told me that he was too aggressive. They had to put him down since he attacked another dog. She tried to console me by telling me that I should feel good about adopting him & giving him some quality time - it was no consolation & still isn't. I feel a terrible weight about his death & feel it was unnecessary. I know it wasn't the shelter's place to call me before they put him down but I felt they should have, even though that is not logical. But love isn't logical - and I loved that dog. They knew I did.

Perhaps I did give him a little more time on this earth but not enough. There are so many other dogs like this with similar stories. And the majority of these dogs do not have aggression issues like Buddy did. Shelters & foster homes provide animals with a lot of good endings, unlike my bungled one! Taking one small step can aid in providing animals that are in need. So, I ask you to help me make up for my mistake & donate or join the ASPCA. And I would be heartfully appreciative if you could help me with this $500 goal in Buddy's memory.



  1. Thank you for visiting my blog. I just read your story of Buddy and was moved to tears. I know that had to be so difficult for you. I also am of the belief that not every family is right for every animal. We have cats instead of dogs, though I've taken in a few over the years to get them well enough for a permanent family. All of our cats had issues because of their previous owners, but they are without a doubt the biggest hearted creatures I have ever met.

    You commented where you lived to me. I live in Caddo Mills..east of Dallas so we're just up the road from one another. Can't wait to get a better look at your blog. :)



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