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In Memory of Buddy – our little fighter!

Hello all…Typically, this would be the follow-up to the last blog that Sophie wrote explaining her run in with Samson a.k.a. “Ninja Kitty”, however, this week is going to be a bit more solemn.  I certainly wasn’t looking forward to, nor expecting to write this post, however I feel compelled to honor the memory of Buddy, our 14 yr old Toy Fox Terrier who we had to have put to sleep a little after midnight Thursday, March 20, 2014.

Let me start by explaining to you that my very first dog I truly recall as being my own was also a Toy Fox Terrier named Superdog who I loved so much it was ridiculous.  I got him when I was 8 and he lived so long (18 yrs) he ended up being my son Nicks’ first dog also.  It was also my first experience with a dog having to be euthanized and even tho I was 22 I remember it like it was yesterday.  Superdog was a Blue Ribbon AKC dog up until the time he got loose when I was 11 & after being gone from home for 3 days someone or something broke his front right leg twisting it completely backwards.  My mother and I were sitting in our kitchen in Laurel, MD & heard whining at the side door & when we opened it, Soopie (his nickname) sat there, looking  lost & in misery with his leg facing in the wrong direction.  As a single Mom, my mother barely had money to pay the bills let alone what it would cost to repair a leg in that condition and we took him to the local veterinarian at Brenner Animal Hospital who saw how traumatized we were and after hearing of our financial issues offered to fix Superdog’s leg free of charge! It was an amazing act of kindness that I had the chance to witness at a very young age and I will remember it until the day I die.  When we left the vet to bring home our little broken man with this huge hard cast on his front leg (which probably weighed half of his whopping 15 pounds)…one, two, three, THUD was what we heard as he walked and got the hang of it until it was ready to be removed.  Time went by & other than him favoring that front leg in the cold weather you never would’ve known he had ever been through such a traumatic ordeal.  You can imagine from that point on Superdog was a “somewhat” spoiled dog (ie: he wouldn’t eat his hamburger for dinner unless it was heated up thoroughly and he enjoyed spaghetti dinner every Sunday with the rest of my big Italian family). So that was my first dog that I was actually responsible for who also slept with me every single night and was a fierce protector (hey, he didn’t know he was little & my well-being & happiness was his #1 duty in his mind)  Sadly when my son was 2 yrs old Superdog started experiencing issues with swallowing and we found out through x-rays that his heart was extremely enlarged and pressing on his esophagus at which time we were told to euthanize him was our only option and after many tears & lots of denial that is what we finally did.

Flash forward about 16 years and I was living in Severn MD. While waiting for a friend of mine to come over for a visit I had heard some ruckus going on outside & when I checked to see what was going on, there was my husband Chaz, very upset & frazzled as he had just stopped 2 dogs (a yellow lab & a small white dog) from walking right into the middle of busy traffic & getting hit on Telegraph Rd.  When he tried to catch them they wouldn’t come to him & in the end took off running into an adjacent neighborhood.  Our house at the time had a porch that wrapped around 3 sides of it with 10 steps that led up to it from the sidewalk.  A few of the boards on those steps would creak, which i liked as it was always a give away when someone was coming up them.  I was still waiting for my friend Michelle to arrive and was on the phone with another friend at the time so my mind was pretty occupied but i finally heard the steps creaking and figured Michelle had finally gotten there so I unlocked & held the door open for her. Ok, here’s where things get funny and strange… instead of Michelle walking in, two dogs (a yellow lab & a small white dog) walked into our house & proceeded to lay down in the living room as if that was their home. Needless to say, I quickly excused myself from my phone call & stood wondering what I was supposed to do now. I’m sure I didn’t look half as baffled as Bear, our Beagle mix, who was staring at me as if to say “do you want to explain this Mom?” to which I really had no answer.  All I remember was saying “hi, umm, don’t get me wrong, it’s very nice to meet both of you but I believe you should have taken a left at Albuquerque”  (what can I say? I’m a huge Bugs Bunny fan…lol). Neither dog had any identification and the terribly upsetting thing was they had on matching “shock collars” – the same size & strength on a 70 lb. lab as was on the tiny Toy Fox Terrier – something was very wrong with this picture but I was determined to find their owners & figured I would fuss at them about their dogs not having ID yet having shock collars once I found them. After an exhaustive search by myself & Chaz, including posting fliers & calling shelters (this was pre-Facebook mind you) no owners ever came forward and honestly I was glad because I figured they weren’t very concerned for the dogs well-being and we were growing closer to our new visitors by the hour.  First things first we had no idea what their names were so I stood in the living room just shouting out random “dog names” hoping they would respond to one. When I finally said “Maggie” the lab looked right at me so I figured I was either right on or darn close so that became her name & well Buddy, he just kinda looked like a little Bud someone would want, hence them being given names.  When we took them to the vet to be scanned for microchips we were told there were none but the visit did show they were both in good health (Buddy had even been neutered) and both their ages were put at approx. 7 yrs old.  Bear, Maggie & Buddy soon became the 3 Musketeers & were inseparable which couldn’t have made us happier.  In the fall of 2009 (with Sophie as part of our furry family for 2 yrs at that point) we moved to a house in Cockeysville, MD, making the trek with all of our belongings, 4 dogs & 3 cats (not a comfortable ride by far so I’m glad it was relatively close).

So there we were in our new house (well, old house but new to us) with a huge front & back yard & also a field on the side where all the dogs could run, play and live happy, content lives.  Then in October 2010, a month before Chaz & I were to leave for our very 1st vacation together on a cruise to Nassau & St.Thomas, something very odd occurred with Buddy one morning when I went to let the dogs outside.  He was his normal happy & upbeat self but something seemed off and I couldn’t put my finger on it and figured Bud was just in a frumpy mood and was being difficult as he was flipping out while I tried to put his collar on him. After I fussed at him & told him to stand still I managed to somehow get him hooked up & ready to go do his business.  As we approached the basement door, he ran straight into the washing machine like it had jumped in front of him & I still had no idea what was going on and than it hit me like a ton of bricks…he couldn’t see where he was going. Actually he couldn’t see anything as I stood in front of him waving my arms & jumping up & down it was like I could read the panic on his face & I noticed both of his eyes had a film covering them.  I lost it and started freaking out and called Chaz at work, asking him to get home as quickly as he could, while explaining I thought Buddy had lost his vision. Chaz tried to reassure me saying it had to be something else & he was sure I was mistaken because he had just walked him the night before & he was fine but suggested I get the 1st appointment available with our vet which I did. As soon as we took Bud to the vet our fears were confirmed. Buddy was diabetic, which we were unaware of and obviously at some point between the previous night & that morning his sugar had spiked so high that it blew the cataracts in both of his eyes out completely, rendering him completely blind.  I quickly flashed back to my days when Superdog was hurt and thought how am I going to care for a blind, diabetic dog and began to cry uncontrollably with Chaz looking as lost as Buddy & I did.  Our vet, Dr. Johnston, at Hunt Valley Animal Hospital, was amazing. Her first priority was to get us to calm down, then to get his diabetes under control which would mean getting 2 insulin injections a day & a specialty dog food to control his sugar from spiking or dropping. The vet tech Joyce who is a diabetic herself came in and taught us how to administer the insulin injections & we practiced using saline solution & received a few very scary growls & more than a few nips  & bites along the way from Bud who had no idea why his Mommy & Daddy who loved him so would be sticking him with something sharp in between his shoulder blades, especially when he couldn’t even see us as we were doing it.  From there we began buying every book and reading every website on Dogs with Diabetes trying to educate ourselves on how to best care for our little dude.   We were also sent to Annapolis to the Pet ER  to meet with a vet named Dr. Nunnery who specializes in Opthamology in animals & were told there was a surgery that could be performed on Bud that could rid him of his cataracts and even though is was over $5,000 we were highly considering having it done. The problem being, the more we researched & the more questions we asked we were told that a large percentage of dogs who undergo this particular surgery end up losing their eyeballs completed due to glaucoma within 2 to 5 yrs of the surgery.  That did not sound like a chance we were willing to take & the more time that went on (with lots of trial & error) we learned that blind dogs can lead very happy healthy lives and are more resilient than you would think. We learned things that we so helpful, like not moving the furniture one inch & to keep a radio on all the time in one part of the room that way the dog can gauge by the sound how close things are to the radio like his food & water bowls.  bud was amazing through all of this & he would literally jump off the couch, walk a set amount of steps, stop, turn & go directly to his water then he would back track & hop right back on the couch. It blew my mind that he was dealing with it so well and the better he dealt with it, the more accustomed to it we became, not to say that there wasn’t a lot of trial & error along the way and yes  a lot of laughs & screw ups on our part,  I remember the 1st time it snowed and we let Buddy out to potty and the snow was higher than him and all he did was go Bam, headfirst into snow bank after snow bank, looking back toward us like “can I get a little help here people?”  Like I said, yes it was scary & yes we were clueless but Buddy wasn’t & it was like he was showing us the way thru it all.   Diabetes in animals is very tricky because you can’t prick their fingers to see where their sugar stands and that means he had to endure several glucose checks, one of which required him to stay at the vet the entire day which resulted in nothing because he decided without Mom & Dad he wasn’t going to eat so they could never get a correct reading on him & that was the last time we left him anywhere without us. You also have to feed & give insulin in set periods of time, with Buds being every 12 hours so he actually had us in a very strict routine as to when we could be out & when we had to be back home but we didn’t care because we would do anything for our furry babies. That to me is a commitment you have to make whether you get an animal as a baby or if they walk in your house off the street.  I always tell people to start with a plant for a year and if the plant is still alive after a year then foster a pet and if you are worthy of being a parent to them than by all means give them a forever home but never underestimate the responsibility required to care for a pet.

The last 4 years seem to have flown by with a lot of high points and certainly a lot of lows.  One thing people should also realize when your pet has diabetes, they are going to pee in the house,,,MUCH and you have to be ready to keep the animal off any & all carpet, buy puppy training pads (which like everything else required, are not cheap by far), keep tons of newspapers on hand & get ready to mop the floor on a daily basis, again, none of that is fun or easy but if you are a true Mommy or Daddy you would do that for your children and aren’t animals just furry children after all?  There were a couple of times things weren’t looking so good for Bud over the last couple years and definitely times that got scary over the last 2 months but all of that finally came to a very sudden and very sad end last week.  I went down Thursday morning to let the dogs out to potty & to feed them & give Bud his insulin and he hadn’t had an appetite the past month on & off. One day he was starving & the next he wouldn’t eat a treat but we were told that is very normal with diabetic dogs so we switched foods & tried to sweet talk him into eating but we knew in our hearts he was around 14 yrs old and that he had been a super trooper, putting up one hell of a fight for sooo long, So when I went to let Buddy out I noticed when he went to the bathroom his stool was black & tarry just like I’ve heard it described when blood is present but I’ve never actually seen it. All I knew was something in the pit of my Mommy gut was saying this wasn’t good. He was extremely lethargic & even after giving him Karo syrup (which you do when you think your animals sugar is falling dangerously low) he still didn’t perk up like he would normally do so once again I made a frantic call to Chaz at work.  When Chaz got home he went down to check up on Buddy & told me that he had to pick him up off the couch & when he let Bud outside he was having a hard time not falling over & was wobbly.  We sat down & talked about the obvious, Bud looked bad & needed to be seen by a vet, however, it was 10 p.m. so we would need to run him over to the 24 hour Pet E.R. off Cromwell Bridge Rd which is what we did.  After meeting with the vet on call it was confirmed that Buddy was bleeding internally however we didn’t have any idea where from and they could do a blood transfusion on him but that would just extend the inevitable.  We were told if we brought him home he probably wouldn’t make it through the night and the next step to put Buddy out of his misery that he was obviously in was not an easy decision but it was one made with every bit of love in our hearts.  The doctor was fantastic and told us to talk about it & spend as much time as we wanted/needed with him & if we were going to euthanize him she was behind us completely as she did not feel he would recover & that he was indeed in pain. We were then taken into a room with couches & Buddy was brought in wrapped in a big blanket plus the blanket we brought him in and he laid on my lap with his head down except to look in our direction every so often as if to say “i love you both but I’s so sick and I’m so sleepy and I really don’t want to hurt anymore” and that was all we needed to see to assure us no matter the heartache, we were making the right choice for Buddy not for ourselves. The vet gave us a buzzer and told us when we were ready she would come in to administer the sedative & talked us through every step that would happen and when we felt ready we buzzed her & she got down on his level in my lap and talked to him while we loved on him & cried but tried to stay strong for him, we told him again we loved him & it was ok to go be with God & not hurt anymore, the injections were given, and he laid his head on my leg and took his last little breath and was gone.  It was beautiful & horrible in a mixed screwed up kind of way and both Chaz & I had never been in the room when an animal was put down but we both agree we would do it all over again because Buddy deserved that from us.  He gave all of his self and so much fight and we just wanted to love him thru to the other side and I think we did just that. The rest of the day was a blur and truly its only been 4 days and we are both still very emotionally tore up over this but again, I know we did the right thing.  The last thing I wanted to do for Buddy was to share his story & to honor all the unconditional love he gave so freely to us each & every day i hope I have done just that in writing this story for & about him.  Thank you all for taking the time to read it and maybe shed a tear or two along the way with me. Writing is very therapeutic and I think it will serve me well to be able to look back & read this down the road and to remember all the happy times we had with our little dude. He is and will be missed forever and even though we have 3 other dogs, none of them are him and they never will be.  I miss you sooo much my handsome fella. You were the bright side to so many of my days when I didn’t feel like getting up, didn’t feel strong enough to face more trials & tribulations in life.  You made me realize that if all 17 little pounds of you could be a fighter every day then so could I and I look forward to the day when I meet you again on the other side, only then you will be able to see Mommy & never get another injection again. I know you are running around looking at all the things that you were unable to see for 4 years and that makes me smile, even thru all the tears.   All of our love to you “Buddynut Squash”, always, forever & a day, Mommy & Daddy