As is the case with all life,
the day comes when it ends. This day rose full of warm light, yet cool; a slight breeze
hung just above the ground. Last night, Buddha had come to stay the weekend with me to
weather, well supervised, any ill effects of the chemotherapy we'd decided to give a test
run. His lymphosarcoma causing him no real distress, nor the drugs injected to combat it,
he ate dinner with tremendous relish and tore off to the yard to maul his ball. All was
A couple of hours later,
it was no longer. It's by the grace of some god or another that he was here with me
instead of alone in a crate at his co-owner Gail's house while she supped and danced the
evening away, as folks will do of a Saturday night. Because for reasons unknown, Buddha
bloated about eight o'clock. And within the hour, he was under light anesthesia, tube down
the esophagus and pressure totally relieved and, another hour later, in my arms in a great
cavernous cage at the emergency vet, groggily questioning with his enormous eyes
"What happened?" He was a lucky dog last night. And, I'd like to think, today as
A sad fact for my precious
dog: Bloat recurs if you don't intervene surgically. Considering the precarious state of
his health, that wasn't an option. The only realistic one, then, was to say good-bye.
We arrived in the bright
sunshine to take Boo for a walk. Knowing what was ahead for us and him, we came prepared
with Kleenex and Haagen-Daas Vanilla -- the first for us, the second for Buddha (although,
knowing the boxer penchant for fluffy white items into which an occasional nose has been
blown, it could have gone either way :-). He took off with us in tow, stopping briefly on
exiting the clinic to cast a warning glare at a large English Setter male who looked
somewhat taken aback at the attitude of this diminutive 59 pound threat. He then found the
nearest bush into which to deliver at least two or three minutes' worth of "Buddha
was here" liquid marker. I think he'd held it for about fourteen hours by that time.
And he even lifted his leg (unnatural behavior for this neutered male raised by bitches
<G>), until the sheer duration of the exercise apparently exhausted him and he was
forced to lower himself into a more traditional squat.
The ensuing hour or so
involved marking a little more, sitting in the sunshine on laps, craning his neck to see
from whence the sounds of other dogs might emanate, intermittently slurping the icy
confection, strolling the streets of Vienna, VA, nose occasionally cast downward
"reading the news" and, best of all (to us), kissing on command. When we
returned to the clinic, we asked him to perform a last perfect down stay, which he was
pleased to do with the promise of yet more Haagen-Daas in exchange. Then we went in.
The doctor inquired if we were
ready, if we'd like more time. No more time, please. Do this. She asked if he could sit.
He could and did. She inserted the needle into the catheter as I took his face in my hands
and pulled it to my cheek. He relaxed, stopped panting, and, his eyes looking over my
shoulder somewhere, very gently (exactly, in fact, as he had lived), his body folded
itself into our arms and died.
As I sit here, I have the
scent of his warm ear in my nose, and the faint taste of vanilla ice cream on my lips,
left over from his final kiss. In Buddha's death there's great peace -- both for him and
for his moms. He must have met up with China by now. As Gail said right before he left,
"She'll be there to take away all his toys."
Minstrel Boxers minus one