One of our dogs recently passed away. It's taken me a while to be able to write about it.
Buddy was a Husky mix, but mixed with what, we've never had a clue. It didn't matter that he was a mutt. He was the sweetest and prettiest creature ever to walk this earth, at least in my eyes, and had an abundance of personality. He lived a long, happy life.
Buddy's favorite words were "squirrel" (which also happened to be his least favorite animal), "outside," "chow," "treat," and "bean" (he loved eating green beans right out of the garden). His least favorite words were "naughty" and "cage." He didn't actually have a cage, mind you, but that's what we called the bedroom, to which he was temporarily banished whenever he first came in from outside.
The questions that made him happiest were "Are you hungry?", "Where's the squirrel?", "Is dad home?", and finally "Would Buddy like to go O-U-T?" He invariably answered the last two questions by singing, for he could also sing. And, yes, spell. (Well, only the one word I taught him, but he caught on very quickly.)
He didn't like to swim, but he wasn't averse to trying to climb trees -- because, you know, that was where the S animals fled to escape his jaws. And he loved to run, just fly through the woods and fields in search of his neighborhood girlfriends. Sally, a golden retriever, was the true apple of his eye.
Buddy had three equally mutty housemates over the course of his life: Missy, Black Dog, and Cody. The first two preceded him to the little cemetery beneath the pines, where small graves are marked in fanciful, loving ways. Cody, aka the Nutless Wonder (yeah, the one with the stink eye), isn't even three years old yet, so he's still around . . . and endlessly entertaining. But, as is the case with significant people in our lives, one dog can never replace another. If you don't understand that, you've never had the unique blessing of a four-legged or feathered family member.
Every time I pass a dead animal on or near the road, I murmur or think, depending on whether I'm alone or not, "May you be at play in the fields of the Lord," for I hate the thought of their lives and deaths going unnoticed, without the slightest stitch of anybody's heart. I'd like to believe when I pass over, all these creatures will be waiting together -- the whole motley throng of them -- to greet me. In the front of the crowd will be every dog, cat, bird, horse, goat, sheep, chicken, and hamster with whom I've had the honor of sharing my life.
See ya, Bud. Cut those squirrels some slack.