It amazes me how much the support from family and friends, most definitely including all of you, has helped. It doesn't take the pain away, but it makes living with the pain easier. That's something to remember every time someone we know is hurting. Your little gesture, your reaching out - it's important. It's worth it. I thank every one of you for the caring and understanding you've shown us.
Because of Buster's fear and anxiety, very few people really knew him. We had to keep him away from most people. It took repeated contact in a controlled setting - and the special training we learned - for Buster to gradually trust. It was a time-consuming process, and the person had to be highly motivated to bother. So mostly, when someone Buster didn't know was in our house, we kept him on a leash, and one of us would always take care of him. As long as the "stranger" stayed a distance from him - we called it "his comfort zone" - it was ok. It wasn't a typical arrangement, but nothing ever was with him.
Because of this, the only people who really knew Buster were the dogwalkers and dogsitters who went through this training process with us. And, amazingly, their partners. Buster accepted two different boyfriends of two different dogwalkers, almost instantly. When our friend David K came over for dinner with his partner, during dinner, Buster lay down at that man's feet and put his head on his foot. At their first meeting. We were dumbfounded. How did he know?
In my email to my family and non-blog friends to announce Buster's death, I wrote this:
Because Buster was fearful and anxious, and because people were afraid of him, most of you never knew the Buster that we loved so dearly. He was incredibly intelligent, loyal, obedient, funny, sweet, affectionate, and above all, loving. Even by canine standards, Buster's love was intense. He was a true prince of nature.Here are two beautiful comments from people who knew him, one quoted by me.
Everyone says we did a lot for Buster, but he repaid us every moment of his life. We never gave him as much as he gave us.
Sharing our lives with Buster was the canine equivalent of having a child with a disability. His care was very labour-intensive, and very expensive, and he became the focus of our lives. This somehow just made us love him more, because we had so much invested. The loss of a beloved animal is never easy, and should never be underestimated, but Buster's absence leaves a particularly large and painful void.
At the same time, our lives have just became easier. Our expenses have gone way down. Cody's life just expanded widely, too. She loves people and other dogs. Now we no longer have to avoid other dogs on our walks, and she can come with us on errands and trips. It's a huge loss to her, of course. She adored Buster and now he's disappeared. I can't imagine what she's feeling or thinking. But there's some compensation for her, too.
One more thought, if you're still with me.
Every night, since the day we found Buster, Buster slept next to me, on a cushion on the floor beside my side of the bed. And every morning - every single morning of his life with us - he greeted me with wild exuberance. As soon as I stirred in bed, his tail would start to thump against the wall, a loud thwack thwack thwack. He would wiggle and wriggle with happiness, and kiss my face like crazy, as if I had been gone for a week. He did this every single morning. "I'm still here, Mommy's still here, hooray, another day, joy joy joy."
Yesterday morning was so empty.
Cody came to the bedside, and put her face next to mine and gave me a few gentle kisses, in her typical low-key way. I thought my heart would break in two.
Trying to end on a more positive note here, we're still going to New Jersey for US Thanksgiving, but now we're taking Cody! We can't leave her alone with a dogsitter so soon after losing her best friend. She'd feel abandoned. She's a great traveler and loves people, so she'll have a great time. My mother has generously offered to have all three of us stay with her. We're driving down this Monday and driving back on Saturday.