Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Memories of Buddy
Buddy was my first dog. He was a good friend and companion as I was growing up and through high school. As I went off to college, internships, and grad school, I would see him less often. But every time I came home he would greet me with excitement, a wagging tail and a warm tongue. As an addendum to my last entry, I thought I’d include some of my memories of Buddy throughout his life. Maybe it will help me to remember the details when I'm old and grey if I put the memories down in writing.
We trained him to go on a newspaper, and then outside. During his first few weeks, he slept close to me and would sometimes wake me up in the mornings by licking my face. As a puppy he had sharp little teeth, and he loved to play any game where he tugged on one end of a towel or toy, and you tugged on the other. He seemed to have a terrier’s desire to pull on things.
As he grew up, we tried to teach Buddy to “sit pretty” on command. He soon learned to use this trick to his own advantage, and he would come up to your chair while you were eating at the table and “sit pretty” without being asked. His begging earned him table scraps once in a while, especially from guests for whom his ploy had not been overused.
He also loved to play with a tennis or racquetball, though he never subscribed to the conventional sport of fetch. I’d throw the ball, and he’d go get it all right, but he had much more fun running away with the ball then bringing it back to me. He loved to be chased. He also became a pretty good catcher, and would reliably catch the tennis ball after one bounce on the carpet of hard floor. At one time, he could “juggle” several balls. I would bounce one ball and he’d catch it, then I’d bounce the next ball and he’d drop the first ball and catch the second without missing a beat.
Buddy loved to explore the neighborhood. He would get excited if he heard the word “walk” or was shown his leash. We didn’t take him for walks as much as we probably should have, and every time we’d open the front door, if we weren’t watching, Buddy would dash to escape. He’d spend his freedom sniffing and marking his territory around our front yard, and would sometimes even venture as far as a couple of blocks in our suburban neighborhood. Even on those occasions when we didn’t even know he was out, however, he would eventually return home, and a few times we were surprised to find him waiting outside the front door when we thought he had been inside the house.
At night, when I would feed Buddy his dinner, he would always come into my room a few minutes after he’d finished eating and spend a minute or two relaxing on my legs while I sat on the floor and did my homework. It always seemed to me that he was thanking me for dinner.
He was not mischievous by nature, but he did have moments where he’d get himself into trouble. At one of my birthday parties, we came into the kitchen after opening presents in the living room to find Buddy eating my ice cream pie from Baskin Robbins on the kitchen table. We stared at him in amazement, worried that the chocolate crust and frosting would prove toxic to him. As we approached, he saw us and began eating faster, trying to make the most of what little cake eating time he had left. I don’t recall him having any problems after eating the chocolate.
Buddy did not like to swim, and could barely dog paddle. We put him in the pool a few times to make sure he could get out if he ever fell in, but he couldn’t do much more than stay afloat. He did enjoy taking rides with me when I was in an inner tube, though. He liked to stand on the inner tube and float around the pool.
It’s always fun to see how your pets interact with each other. When we got Buddy, we also had our 10+ year-old dog Vida, Jack the rabbit, 2 year-old Wishes the cat and an aquarium of small fish. To Vida, I’m sure Buddy was little more than a young whipper-snapper nuisance. His only interactions with Jack were probably a bit distressing for the rabbit, as Buddy looked at him with interest from outside the cage. I do remember one occasion when we had let Jack out to roam the yard, and we accidentally allowed Buddy to get out the back door before we closed it. Buddy chased Jack around the yard for a minute or so, despite our shouts for him to stop. His teeth were getting pretty close to Jack’s puffball tail when I threw a ball at Buddy to get him to stop. It was one of those light, bouncy balls you get out of a huge bin at the supermarket, and Buddy saw it and stopped in his tracks to avoid getting hit as it whizzed between him and the rabbit. Buddy having stopped, Jack was still spooked and continued running until he smacked head-on into my ankle. Ouch.
I guess Buddy interacted the most with Wishes, as their lifespans overlapped for thirteen years. (Wishes died of a malignant tumor in June of 2003. She was 15.) Now, Wishes had a very distinctive personality of her own. One of her parents was feral, and she maintained a wild element of unpredictability her whole life. IE: you could pet her, but only in a spot and for a duration she deemed fit. She would inform you of these specifications by sinking her claws and teeth into your hand or leg if you did not abide by her rules. On the other hand, Buddy was always very friendly. This resulted in him getting swatted in the face by Wishes on several occasions. There were also times when I’d be looking out in the back yard and saw Buddy playfully chasing Wishes from right to left across my field of view. A few seconds later and Buddy would be running, in earnest fear, from Wishes who was now chasing him from left to right. The funny thing was, at ~ 3 times Wishes’ weight, Buddy probably could have pushed her around if he wanted to, but his personality did not lend to aggressive behavior. The exception to this involved food. When it came to scavenging, Wishes could not compete with Buddy. Buddy could swallow tablescraps in mid-air, while Wishes would always wait till they landed and then sniff them cautiously before nibbling on them. . . leaving ample time for Buddy to snatch them away from her. If Wishes ever got too close to Buddy’s food dish while he was eating, you would see the rare spectacle of a snap and snarl from the dog, though it was always meant as a warning.
Of course, I think Buddy’s favorite leisure time activity was being scratched. His lower stomach, the part of his back just above his tail, the small of his back, his underarms, and the muscular area of his neck, just above his chest were all prime areas. Find the right spot, and you’d know it by his stiffening muscles and his gyrating back legs.
Good old pup.