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Death of a Friend

Writer’s note: This blog has virtually nothing to do with the Boilermaker, save it being an emotional moment for me as person involved with the race.
Death of a Friend
A member of my family died yesterday, he was 15 years old, or rather 105 years old in dog years. It was our dog.
Buddy came into our lives in a most unexpected way. My plan had always been to get a retriever that was around a year old. With a wife, who was not a big dog fan, the thought of puppy issues appeared to be a non-starter.
It was a week before Christmas, a temp was working the receptionist desk, I was using the fax machine located near her workstation.
The conversation-
Her-‘I feel terrible, my husband and I have moved from the country into the city and it looks like we’re going to have to get rid of our dog.’
Me-‘That’s too bad, what kind of a dog is it?’
Her-‘It’s a purebred Golden Retriever’ (My interest instantly begins to rise)
Me-‘How old is he?’
Her-‘Buddy will be one year old on Christmas Day.’ (Ding, ding,ding,ding-we have a winner!)
Buddy spent Christmas Eve at my brother’s house and was moved to my garage early Christmas morning. After the present opening frenzy I went downstairs and lead Buddy upstairs. As he turned the corner I could hear my son Jack shout’ It’s a dog- it’s a real dog!’ The story behind that comment is my wife had attempted to placate my three son’s (ages 10, 8 and 3) dog demands with a robotic dog the previous year which promptly broke after a week.
My wife laid her foot down-Buddy would stay in the garage at night. That rule lasted all of one day as he established his sleeping spot at the side of our bed. When I would wake up in the morning and swing out of bed his tail would immediately begin a rhythmic beat against the floor.
Buddy was always happy that my wife kept our clothes clean as his treat jar was perched on top of the dryer. Load washer- give treat, move wet laundry into dryer- get treat, unload dryer-you figured it out!
I could be guaranteed a smiling face with tongue hanging out greeting me as I came home from work. He would simply be full of boundless love for a mere cup of dog food in the morning and at night.
When cutting the lawn or weeding Buddy watched over me like a sidewalk superintendent. While watching TV I would feel Buddy’s snout pushing under my forearm to get petted.
Buddy was far from a faultless dog. He has a real dislike for people in uniforms and on more than one occasion we never got our mail due to Buddy being outside.
In addition, he was a lousy retriever. I would throw a stick he would run and get it and promptly lay down. I would have to walk to where he was and try and get the stick. I would get the stick out of his mouth throw it and he would fetch it and again lay down. Wait a minute, I just figured it out- I was the retriever.
While Buddy was our family dog, there was no doubt he was my dog.
The last six months has been tough for Buddy, rear legs that would fail on occasion, inability to climb stairs and hearing problems. Sleeping longer and longer, eating less and less.
I have been blessed to experience the unbridled joy of Buddy brought to our family and the profound sadness as I walked down him our sidewalk for the last time for the drive to the vet.
If there is such a thing as a dog heaven Buddy is there with that smiling face and perpetually wagging tail.
I really, really miss you…

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