Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Immortal

I grew up on a dairy farm. I know lots of people who grew up on dairy farms that have a deep and abiding love for animals of all kinds. I also know people who were instilled with a commercial, sort of a clinical detachment regarding animal life.

That be me.

Know what? The second I fell in love with a kitten, it got it’s eye kicked out by a cow and held on for the rest of its life with puss oozing out of a cold black hole. Uhm, ew? And as soon as you named a puppy, it got hit by a tractor and your last vision of it (after its leg stopped twitching) is one of the hired hands scooping up the carcass to toss in a field.

Circle of life. I learned the harsh realities of it on our farm. Calves = cash, pets = death. Others come to take their place. Best not to get too attached.

So I’m really not an animal person, though for the past 14 years, I have housed a 50 lb crazy-dog. All those years ago, then-husband brought home a dog he found wandering the streets. Home to my children’s delight and to my dismay. I’m not stupid ~ I knew darn well who would be taking care of that animal. Meggie, who was 2-ish at the time, gleefully clasped her hands together and cried, “Let’s call him Housedog!” The hungry dog promptly found a dead baby rabbit and chewed him up in two bites. Nice. We named him Buddy.

Buddy was a runner; all he wanted to do was get outside and feel the wind in his face and work his legs stupid. I remember getting on a bicycle, and holding Buddy on a leash while he pulled me for 5 miles. We were going at quite a clip too. Buddy was a hunter; he could spot a mouse in tall grass and lunge. Buddy was good natured; he always had a smile on his face, his tongue lolling out waiting for affection, which he got in abundance. And boy, could he wrap his teeth around a ball or a Frisbee or anything you would throw – Buddy’d jump in the air at it and catch it every time.

So gentle; when Meg was three, Buddy would carefully grab the other end of the rope bone she held out and would pull her around the room all the while she squealed. Protective; let one of us roughhouse with his girl and Buddy would nose right in between barking to make us stop. I get more than a little creeped out when he stands in front of a door and just growls.

I used the past tense up there a lot, but Buddy is still with us. Poor Buddy is not the lithe animal he once was (who is for that matter?) There was a time when we couldn’t leave a door open a crack for fear Buddy would streak out. Still well conditioned, we take care not to leave an opening for him, but I get the impression these days, like a eunuch at Hef’s, there’s not a lot of interest. The thrill of the hunt has faded; he can’t see large rabbits right in front of him, he doesn’t hear so well. I think his smeller is a little off too, since he has to lick most of what he smells these days to figure out what it is.

Buddy still loves to play catch. He’ll bring his ball up and caper around making a game of pretending he doesn’t want me to get the ball out of his mouth and throw it. He still loves to go outside and I know that the joy these walks give him is immense. He’s always looking around taking in what he can, sniffing and licking and traipsing along. Then his old hip starts to bother (a youthful indiscretion chasing cars) and he stays closer to me as he gets more and more tired. We get back home, he takes a drink of water, goes into the room my daughter is in, sits next to her and protects her from all the evils that lurk.

He scares easily, worries when we leave him, gets nervous if there are too many people around and panics if his routine is altered. He is important to my daughter and has been in her life for almost as many years as she is old. For all my bluster above about not being an animal person, I can’t let him go so easily. I profess to care nothing, yet I love him too much. I will not willingly have another animal after him, but none have touched me quite as much as Buddy, dubbed by my children and their friends as The Immortal.

1 Comment:

lace1070 said...

Sweet Bud ~ I am happy that I had the chance to get to know him ~

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