Friday, December 6, 2013

Blessings and Buck

We had the best Thanksgiving ever at our home last week. All of our boys and my sister were here, and some very special friends joined us. The weather was great! The meal was wonderful (even though I almost scorched the rolls and I did manage to scorch the brownie pie). We had two turkeys, a whole ham, a tofurkey; mashed potatoes, dressing, giblet and vegetarian gravies, corn, green bean bundles, sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole (not the kind with Velveeta), cranberry salad, homemade rolls, banana pudding, iron skillet apple pie, brownie pie and haystacks:
Deep-fried turkey, just out of the fryer

Banana pudding, required at every holiday

We keep the rest of the desserts on the buffet
The centerpiece
Another view
I made place cards for everyone--I saw a neat example at the Scrap Girls blog and ran with it:

I followed their lead and made the second tag the meaning of each name. Everyone enjoyed hearing the meanings of the names and thought the tags were cute.

This year we had our dinner in the evening, so it put a little cramp into our after-dinner games--we only played one game of Cranium, but the wine flowed, and we laughed long and hard. When I looked up, it was midnight. And we had a first--most of the kids cleaned up the kitchen--BIG BONUS!

On Friday we took down the fall and Thanksgiving decorations to prepare the house for Christmas. Our oldest dog, Buck, was in the house and it was clear he wasn't doing very well. My sister said, "It's time." Our vet wasn't able to see him, but we have a 24/7 emergency pet clinic a mile away and they said we could bring him in. I told the hubster I wanted one more night with him. Saturday morning I sat down on the floor with him and gave him a long scratching and belly rub, the hubster fed him some ham with gravy and I rubbed his belly more. We loaded him into the car and rolled down the back window--he loved riding in the car; he was a great traveling dog. We arrived at the vet, and luckily, no one else was there--it was all over in less than 30 minutes. We carried him home where our sons Jack and David were waiting. Phillip and the boys dug the grave, while my sister and two friends were propping me up inside. We had a short funeral and Phillip said, "He's running with the big dogs." I told Buck to run around the lake and find a dead fish and roll around in it. 

One of the greatest things about Buck is that he was always happy to see you. When you walk in the door and if he sees you (he's deaf), he will wag his tail and try to get up to greet you. That may sound ordinary to you, but to me it meant the world.

God placed Buck with us when he was about 3 months old back in the spring of 1998. I wanted a dog. My mother had moved out of the house and I felt like it was time for a dog; our boys were in middle and high school at the time. Phillip and I went to the local animal shelter and while looking around, I stopped at one of the cages and the cutest dog walked up to me and it was as if he had said, "I've been waiting for you." (Yes, I am a sentimental old sap and I believe you can communicate with dogs.) I looked at my husband and said, "He's the one, but I want to think about it." We waited a day, and I told Phillip I was ready. We went back to the shelter and he was gone--but someone there said he was on the mobile unit at PetSmart. We then learned he had already been adopted by someone else, but was returned because the owner couldn't keep a dog in the rented house, so he returned him to the shelter. We made a mad dash up to PetSmart and he was still there, and he came home with us. 

Buck went everywhere with us. Our two youngest were in soccer, and Buck went with us to every practice and every game; he became the mascot of David's team. He loved going to the games and everyone wanted to hang out with him. 

He spent some quality time at my sister's home--and the first 2 weeks she kept him, he came back to us as the perfect dog (I've always called her the Dog Whisperer, long before anyone knew about Cesar Milan). Ross taught him a great trick--he called it the Half-A$$ Roll. Buck would sit, then get into the beg position, jump up, lie down, roll over and sit again, and would be rewarded with his treat. All anyone had to say was, "What do you need to do?" and he would perform the trick. He was so smart and had me wrapped around his finger so tightly that he would start to do the trick, but then get lazy and only half-way roll over, which is why Ross named it so.

Buck was the kindest dog--he would bark at you at first if he didn't know you, but thereafter he would greet you and any other human or animal with a friendly sniff and wag of his tail--dogs, cats, birds, you name it. Jack brought Cleo the cat home the year after we adopted Buck and she sank her claws into his nose at their first meeting, but he just backed away and wagged his tail at her. It wasn't long before she was under his spell. She's the type of cat that if she loves you (i.e., she owns you), she will drop to the floor and roll over and whip that tail when she greets you--she does this with me, my husband, our kids, and she did it with Buck.

Buck loved all of my sister's dogs, but he was especially fond of her golden retriever, Tripp. Tripp was what I called the perfect dog--well-mannered and did everything Steph told him to--and Buck apparently wanted to be just like him. They spent many happy times together. Tripp went to the Rainbow Bridge almost 10 years ago.
Buck - July 4, 2009
It was in the last 6 months that I started seeing signs of his slowing down--he didn't run up the stairs like he used to, and while he ate as much as he normally did, he lost a lot of weight and a lot of hair. He had a harder time getting up from his bed, and in the last 2-3 months he had trouble walking. I knew the time was coming but just wanted to get up one morning and find him curled up in his bed, asleep forever. My sister convinced me that I needed to have him put down. 
Buck, on his last day with us
The best dog in the world is now at the Rainbow Bridge, running and playing with Tripp and many other cousins, and rolling in as many dead fish as he wants. He's greeting everyone with a wag of his tail and a sniff, and he is happy as he was here on this earth. There is a hole in my heart that will never be completely closed, but I take joy in what a happy, loyal, and friendly companion he was to our family for so many years. As I write this, the sleet is falling outside and I am thinking of the many times he would be curled up on the floor at my feet, just happy to be by my side and out of the elements. 

Rest in peace, my dear, sweet Buckers, and I'll see you one day at the bridge.