It was on the final day of our vacation that we received a call from my trusted and most reliable friend Sean. The news was bad.
Buddha, my steadfast companion of fifteen years and best friend in the world, had died while in Sean’s care.
Sean and eponymous dug a grave under the magnolia tree by the fence, wrapped Buddha’s old body in one of our flannel sheets, covered him up and then, in an act of simple grace, Sean played guitar and sang, laying him to rest with a few songs of love and devotion.
Sean had told me that Buddha had stopped eating some three or four days after Mrs. Dog and I left the country. I knew that he had struggled in the past year with pain in his hips. He had grown deaf and begun to go blind. So, there was always the possibility that he would decline rapidly while we were out of the country.
I gambled on a quick vacation, and I lost. I lost the opportunity to lay my companion to rest with my own hands. Fortunately, I had friends who covered for me. I am deeply in your debt, Sean and David.
Sean told me that he had run out to the grocery store to get some supplies and that when he returned, Buddha had hobbled out into the yard behind the house, laid his head down on his paws, and died. He found him there resting peacefully.
Buddha was sometimes a challenging dog. He would bite strangers who broke his rules. These rules changed arbitrarily. He once enthusiastically killed a rooster and days later fought a massive (and vicious) goose to an honorable draw. He hated cats, never caught a squirrel, or for that matter, a seagull, but never lost his enthusiasm for chasing any and all of the above. He was fiercely protective of his loved ones. He disdained dog toys but could be enticed to ferocious combat if I just lifted the corner of a rug. He snored and farted and was terrified of thunderstorms. He recognized about fifteen words. He did two tricks- sit and shake. He only performed them for bacon. Otherwise he would pretend he hadn’t heard you.
The heat in Georgia was hard on him. The heat in Chicago was even worse. He loved the snow and he loved to roam off the leash in the piney winter woods of South Georgia.
Buddha was the only red chow born of the mating of two black chows- Tasha and Killian.
He was born on Valentines Day.
He died alone in the grass.
He will never be replaced in my heart.