First that, now this

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.






  1. I know it’s got to hurt that you weren’t there at the end, Patrick, but it sounds like Buddha got the chance to make his own, peaceful decision about how and when to go—as much as any of us can hope for. And more than a good death, it sounds like he had a good life, and that’s all on you.
    I don’t believe in afterlives, but I’d like to, if only to imagine that Buddha’s somewhere now getting all the bacon he can handle. Heartfelt condolences.

  2. I’m very sorry to hear about Buddha. Not that it’s any consolation, but it sounds like he had a good life, all the way to the end.

    May your hearts heal quickly.

  3. We all know that Buddha was very well cared for, happy, and lucky to have such a devoted master during his long life. He never wanted for anything, that’s for sure.

    🙁 My condolences.

  4. Burying him was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do this year. I’m just sorry that you weren’t here for it. I also had no idea that Buddha’s birthday was one day after mine, funny. Either way, despite the fact that he definitely hazed me when I started coming over to your house, he will be missed.

    Here are some more pictures of the old boy (as well as Addison) for your perusal.

  5. DaveT

    The love Buddha had for you, and you for him, will never die. Tell Addison I miss him, will you. And I miss you guys too. Stay well.

  6. valeko

    I’m very sorry to hear of it, Patrick… please accept my wholehearted condolences.

    But it seems to me that Buddha lived a handsome, ample and diversified life full of unique experiences and sensations. He has done many things, met many people, traveled, and ran free. This is a lot more than can be said for most domestic dogs out there.

    That Buddha did not live in vain or want, as others have suggested, imparts a certain grace unto his death; it vindicates it as the natural conclusion of a wholesome life.

  7. Bobby

    Buddha, the amazing lakeshore chow!

    I will never forget the sight of the most violent crash I’ve ever seen: Buddha and Lake Michigan head to head at 30 mph. TTHHWAP! The result? Wet dog, sore lake, dog wins. (I think the resulting tsunami capsized a boat in Wisconsin).

    I will forever miss the amazing and completely natural penchant for Buddha to float up to the nearest swimmer in Lake Michigan and say, “hey, how bout those cubs, huh?!”.

    Suffice it to say that, on his first day in heaven, I find it quite likely that Buddha caught a dozen squirrels and had a lovely feast of bacon wrapped rodent in the snow.


  8. marianne

    Just found this on my laptop after you left.

    It hurts so much to lose such a good friend, but I know you wouldn’t trade the time you had with him for anything. It hurts because you loved him…and he you.

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