By Beau Smith
Ever since this column started comin’ out I’ve gotten loads of email, letters and phone calls with folks askin’ me for manly advice.
Of course? when I come to think of it? folks have been askin’ me for that kinda stuff for years.
Sometimes I have the right answer for em’, sometimes I don’t. I just try to use a little common sense, treat folks with dignity and respect. If they blow that? well? let’s just say I ain’t the chain they wanna pull on.
Something that I’ve always had in my manly life has been ownin’ a dog. Sometimes I have owned multiple dogs at one time, like right now. For those of you that have been to my testosterone filled website http://www.flyingfistranch.com you’ll see photo of my current pack of K9 killers. They are a fine bunch, each with their own share of uncertain habits.
Not tryin’ to be all morbid and stuff, but we recently lost one member of the pack–Buddy.
Buddy givin’ ya his best smile.
Buddy was a 14 year old Rat Terrier. He weighed 15 lbs and 10 of it was dick. This dog had more testosterone than 10 men. Ya might say he had the little man syndrome, but you’d be wrong. Ol’ Buddy always thought he was the biggest dog on the porch. He didn’t doubt it and neither should you.
We got Buddy at a pet store 14 years ago for our middle boy, Brad’s birthday. It had gotten down to the wire? the party was that afternoon and I still couldn’t find him a gift. So I went by this pet store and figured? “Hell, Beth don’t have enough to clean at the house with three boys? I’ll get a dog!”
Well, I walked in looked over what they had? which wasn’t much. All they had were those little ankle bitin’ Fi-Fi dogs. I wasn’t about to haul one of those “Almost as bad as cats” to my ranch. Nope. Then I spied another cage with a little black and white pup in it. The sign said rat terrier. Hell, I knew those were great dogs? Teddy Roosevelt had some! In fact, I believe he even coined that name for em’. Good enough for T.R. so good enough for me.
The lady at the pet store told me that they had him for 5 months. I grimaced a little? poor pup have been in jail all that time. That ain’t good. Without another thought I said, “Sign me up on that one.”
I got the little guy in the truck and we headed for his new home. On the way I was thinkin’ of names. I wasn’t about to let Brad think of a name. That’s the trouble now days. Parents give their kids too much choice. Like when ya got out to eat. You know what you kid will eat, order it and that’s it. If not, they’ll order something goofy that they’ll never eat. Then they whine about it. I always tried to keep that kinda pressure off my kid’s backs. Hell, they’ll have enough when they’re grown. ‘Sides? a dopey kid will stick a name on a dog that ya just hate to yell for. Something like:
Awww? you get the picture. So he kinda’ reminded me of a dog in our neighborhood when I was a kind. A real smart dog named Buddy.
Buddy? that’s the name!
It’s plain, it’s all American? and that’s the name I gave him. ‘Sides, I knew I’d be the one raising him anyway.
“As soon as you let me down I’m gonna bite ya!” – Brad and Buddy in a sentimental moment of hate.
Turned out to have all kinds of irony. The reason? Buddy hated Brad and Brad hated Buddy. Ol’ Bud would bark at Brad every time he tried to come out of his room. I found it comical, Brad did not. Too bad? I was amused and that’s all that matters. Brad was always askin’ when Buddy was gonna die. Of course he didn’t really mean it, but you get the idea. He and Buddy weren’t eatin’ out of the same bowl.
Buddy was like an episode of HBO’s OZ. In his world it was “Fuck Or Fight.” If you were a dog and ya didn’t oblige Buddy by lettin’ him poke ya in some orifice of your body, then you had to fight him. That was pretty much his motto through life. He was a walkin’ prison drive-inn movie. I guess all those months spent in that cage kinda twisted him a little.
Buddy was an ex-con.
I heard all kinds of noise comin’ from out side one day and looked out there and there was a 100 lbs dog goin’ down the street with Buddy on it’s neck being drug. He just wouldn’t let go. I got em’ separated, but just as soon as I did, Buddy would be right back at the other dog. He never gave up.
Now don’t get me wrong. Buddy loved folks. He never bit anyone. Oh, he might have humped your leg a little if ya had that certain smell to ya. When it came to tricks , Buddy knew a few, at least the ones that he enjoyed. He could sit and lay down? the usual stuff, but he could also sing and talk. He’d do that “howl at the moon thang”. To be honest, he did have a pretty nice singing voice. He could also talk. Ya’d ask him questions and he’d do this yelpin’ kinda talk. It was just like he was tryin’ to communicate with ya. In reality I’m sure he was sayin’ stuff like: “Get me some food, ya dumb ass!” Or “Fetch the damn ball yourself? get me a hooker!”
Another one of his little tricks was not so PC. That was his “I’ve lost the use of my back legs” trick. He would lay down and then start crawlin’ the length of the hall draggin’ his back legs behind him. I don’t know where he picked up that little trick. It was just plain weird to watch.
Piss On Ya!
He also had the trick where he would piss on stuff on command. If we were out side I could point at anything and say, “Smell!” He’d go over to the thing ? smell? and then piss on it. It paid never to stand too close to me and have me point at your leg.
It really wasn’t until this past year that Buddy began to slow down a little bit. I could tell by the way he would just look for the places where the sun came in the house. He’d spend hours just layin’ there soakin’ it up. He loved goin’ on patrol every evening. Ya see, every evening while the rest of ya are wastin’ your time watchin’ reality TV I’m out walkin’ 2 miles (No matter what the weather) with my dogs. I walk em’ each by themselves. We gotta make sure the town is safe from cat terrorists that are always plottin’ against mankind and Dogdom. ‘Sides, at night they can take dumps in the neighbor’s yards under the cloak of darkness. They could all use a little “Yard Fudge”. I don’t carry those little plastic bags and clean it up. Let nature claim it!
Ol’ Buddy was a “Marker”. He pissed on anything and everything that looked like it needed it. He wanted the world to know that he was there and this was HIS territory. That dog passed out more business cards than an insurance salesman.
In the past six months we knew that Buddy was really slowing down. We kinda’ figured it was only a matter of time. But this past August Buddy had his final Hurrah. His last stand. Let me tell ya, it was a sight to behold.
In the out building here at the ranch I had a big ol’ bag of seed. Well, it seems that a bunch of mice thought I had left it out there for them to eat. I went out there one day and there was seed everywhere in the building. Lots of mouse shit as well. Did I set traps? nope. Did I lay out little bits of poison? nope. I called in the big guns? ? Buddy.
He and I went out there and I turned him loose. He uncovered about 15 mice right off. It was like a switch was turned on inside Buddy. He started grabbin’ mice in his mouth, crush em’ , killl em’ toss em’ aside and went for the next one. Within 15 minutes he had killed all of em’. It took me an hour to get him to come out of the building. He was doing what came natural. A true killin’ machine. It was a marvel to watch. He was so systematic about.
But Buddy’s slow down did continue. He would perk up at eatin’ time and for patrol duty. He’d spend most of the day sleepin’ and dabblin’ out in the front yard waterin’ the trees. Even at Christmas he didn’t bother to come out and help tear open packages. The last month of Buddy’s life he ended up walkin’ at night with Beth on a much shorter walk. He just couldn’t make the long one anymore.
Then last month it got to where he couldn’t get up the stairs by himself and stuff. More time just resting. Then one morning he kinda lost the use of his right side. He couldn’t walk without going backwards and other stuff that I won’t tell ya about.
He wasn’t in any pain, but you could tell he was very confused to why he couldn’t get his body to do what he wanted. I took Buddy to the vet and they checked him out. They said that he had a stroke. They said he wouldn’t get any better because the damage was done. They gave me some pills to see if that helped his walkin’. Even then they told me that it didn’t look good for Bud.
The next day it was still downhill for Buddy. He didn’t wanna eat or really move much. He just laid on the bed in the sun. I knew that he couldn’t live like this. It wasn’t fair to the little warrior to go through this.
I called the vet and told em’ it was time. I had a few hours with ol’ Bud before we went to the vet. I sat there on the bed with him in the sun and thought of all the fun, the battles and good times we had. If he could’ve drank beer, I know we would’ve shared one right then. He was peaceful there in the sun, doin’ what he’d had always loved doing. We talked over old times.
At 2:30 we went to the Vet. I had it arranged to where I just had to come in and hand him over. There couldn’t be any long goodbyes. I wouldn’t have been able to contain myself. Fact is, I barely made it for the hand off. Buddy and I had said our goodbyes that afternoon. It was best if it was quick.
It was hard to drive home. Hard to see if ya know what I mean. When I got there I was glad that I was alone. Sometimes a man likes to be alone with his grief. I’m one of those.
I gotta say, havin’ two other dogs makes it a bit easier, but none the less painful. That’s why I couldn’t even write this column then. It’s taken me more than a month to be able to do it. Buddy had a good life and lived a long time. We’re blessed with all his good memories. Even now the other dogs are just startin’ to know that Buddy isn’t here. Buddy always slept under the blankets in our bed. The other dogs never dared try and get up there when Buddy was under the blanket. They still fear that he might be lurkin’ under there ready to punish them if they dare try to invade his spot.
Like any family member we miss Buddy everyday. He had a long life and a good one. There are no regrets.
The day Buddy died it was our loss, but it was heaven’s gain. He’s up there runnin’ every mouse straight to hell.
I know my columns are usually comic book related, but every now and then ya gotta use it for other matters. I appreciate ya hangin’ in there with me today.
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507
P.S. Remember to send in your photos – jpegs of your manly or babe self so I can post em’ on my website. Hell? send one of your dog? I’ll post that too!
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