June 1, 2016: Thank you, Bud

~by Susi Pittman


Buddy Boy has been my most loving and joyful companion since the death of my husband eight years ago. In most cases, dogs will mourn and then show a desire to continue living in the “now.” That’s what is so endearing about dogs, they live in the moment. Bud came out of his mourning for my husband by showing signs of joy again; tail wagging’s, more energy, smiling (and yes, most dog owners know their dogs smile), eating better and the reappearance of his old habits.

He showed me that life continues on and we are called to “live in it” and not recoil into unnecessary extended grief. As our loved ones have moved into their new existence, so must we. Dogs know this in a different language given them by the Creator. Bud’s behavior was an example to me in realizing that moving on was spiritually healthy.

In dog years, Bud is now 72 and I have reached the artful years of Medicare. It has been his unspoken choice to attend to me and make sure that I am safe, or feeling okay. This was evident to me in a huge way back in the summer of 2010.

Let me preface this story with the fact that I have been deaf in my left ear for years and have minor hearing loss in my right ear. I was sitting on my porch, drinking coffee one morning, listening to the Cardinals in the trees when quite suddenly I noticed that the sounds were becoming more distant and then gone. I stood up and called Bud. I could not hear myself speak. Bud came. I was frightened as I wrestled with the obvious fact, I was absolutely deaf. How was that possible? Why did it happen? I could not even call anyone on the phone, because I would not be able to hear them. So, I raced to the computer and emailed my daughter to Skype me immediately. There I was able to speak to her and she could text me back on screen. I was able to get to an Otolaryngologist and start treatments for nerve induced hearing loss. It took two weeks for me to regain my hearing and Bud was my guardian every step of the way.

Bud sensed that something was wrong with me. He would lie at my feet whenever I was inactive, it was his way of expressing concern. He would alert me to sounds outside the house and even if the phone rang. He wasn’t trained to do this, he did this on his own, like he knew he needed to. He was more watchful and aggressive during this time, warier of people and not his usual “at ease” self. Bud had always been a dog ambassador of affection and love to everyone. His actions told me that he was guarding me.

Now, six years later, Bud has lost all of his hearing and it has been my privilege to work with him on our new speech of hand signals and body language to communicate with him. I know what it was like to hear nothing, not even your own breathing and how frightening and disorienting that can be. I know that Bud misses being able to hear but, he has adapted in ways far beyond what I thought capable. And I watch him now for indications of what he might need.

There was a time in 2008 when I was alone in a cabin in the Smokey Mountains with Bud. It was a beautiful day and I had all the doors open to the back deck as I worked on writing my book. Bud was lying next to me. Out of my peripheral vision I noticed Bud rising up very slowly, unusually so, that I turned to look at him. Every hair on the ridge of his back was standing straight up and his head was lowered with ears raised and his eyes set straight ahead. I then turned to see what he was looking at, and there standing on the edge of the deck was a large black bear. He was noticeably thin and I am sure he was smelling the lunch I had placed beside me. Bud lunged out the door without hesitation and the bear scrambled up the railing and proceeded to jump off into the woods. I screamed for Bud to stop, and thank God he did.

My hero dog! He would have fought with a bear for me! Fearless loyalty cannot be bought.

Today, Bud’s eyesight has grown darker and he has trouble seeing shapes or dealing with glare. There are times I see him anxious and nervous while walking in the back yard because he has lost sight of me… I run to him to assure him, I am there and he is okay. His gratefulness is evident in his joyful mannerisms that have been such the big part of his persona. Sometimes I just kneel down and hug him tight just so he knows how much he is loved in the moment.

Bud has shown me that to have a friend, you must be a friend; that patience is its own reward; love does not judge, nor does it seek its own justice; forgiveness is paramount to joy; pleasure should be found in the smallest of things; giving beats receiving any day; a good nap IS a good thing; disability allows others to grow with you; seize the day; share “joy” often; live in the moment, it may be all you have; always love.

So here we are, just the two of us, taking care of each other. Two different creatures that God has given to each extraordinary insights into the other, so that their lives together, while they have each other will be blessed in a reciprocal love that will know it’s true potential in the perfection of the life to come.

Thank you Bud for your example, and thank you for your love. I will never be able to thank Jesus enough for sending you to me because you have made me a better person in so many ways.

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; a member of the St. John’ s Catholic Writers Guild;
a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the National Wildlife Federation, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

*** Visit SUSI WEEKLY ARCHIVE ***

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