It was three years ago last month that Buddy came into our lives. His breed is a Yorkshire terrier; one breed that, up until then, I had carried little interest for. Mostly because there was a pair of yorkies that lived kiddy corner to us in Alaska while growing up. They were yippy and mean. Probably not actually mean, but they always ran down their perfectly groomed lawn, hair down to the grass, ears up in bow ties, yapping incessantly at us kids trying to enjoy a quick swing in our backyard; my brother was scared, I was annoyed. This happened every s i n g l e time we were out there and they got louder and more obnoxious with every breath. I could not even see their eyes. They seemed elitist, spoiled and unlikable; from the eyes of a child. Now as an adult, I realize, it was not the dog’s bad behavior as much as it was the Owner’s personality, and bad behavior, inflicted upon the two dogs. I now wish I could go back and pet them to let them know that they were okay.
Buddy is none of those things. He is an old soul that comes off as very British, true to his heritage, bad teeth and all. Aloof but confident, friendly and fun. Before taking residence as a member of our family, he had had the misfortune of 16 teeth being pulled. During this, seemingly, routine procedure, his esophagus was inadvertently torn, leaving him to narrowly escape death. He endured much pain along with the anxiety of having just been displaced from his home, of almost eleven years, due to the death of his Mother. In addition, one tooth had decayed so deeply that additional surgery was needed, by a specialist.
This is where we came into the picture. Michelle, of Rebeca’s Rainbow, via Fur Baby Rescue was Fostering Buddy. This is a dedicated and loving Rescue group, both. If you are at all interested in adopting a small breed dog, please visit their sites here and here. We love them and their dedication to caring for and placing dogs into good homes!! Buddy was given to us after having been cared for, mended and loved by Michelle and her husband; he had not even been placed on the rescue site yet. Michelle, after reading our application and speaking with me on the phone, felt there was something about Buddy and thought we were perhaps meant to be his new home. His tooth was still in need of surgery but they were willing to pay the $800 cost (which shows the type of dedication they have to the well being of the animals they rescue). Overall, he was in good health yet he was still frail (we are guessing he had not been well fed during his Mother’s illness) and stinky from the infections in his mouth.
Within the first week of him shacking up in our bed, we hauled Buddy into Ginger’s Doctor to get a full work up and a second opinion on the tooth. I remember vividly the shaking of his frail little body as we tucked him into the car seat and drove the one mile down the hill to see “Doc”. He couldn’t have been cold because he was bundled up in his newly purchase fleece jacket (which made him look quite smart) and an additional blankie that should have made him quite warm. But he was so sad, acted so cold, scared and unknowing. This made me desperate and crazy and sad. How could I reassure him that we were going to make him better, going to see someone that would care for him and make him healthy again? He didn’t know and really hadn’t the experience to understand, so he shook. Uncontrollably shook, making my heart bleed. I wanted to squeeze, hold and love him to make the scared, sadness go away. It wouldn’t budge; he continued to shake, so hard, so, so h a r d!
So here we were, for the first time, bringing Buddy to Doc (where we had to pull him shivering from the car); she was suspicious (knowing Ginger for 10 years and understanding her solo status). Yet, upon examination, commented on the oddity of Buddy’s attachment to me (rarely something she sees in newly adopted dogs). She also felt that he was older than the 10 years indicated by his Foster Mom (Doc called it “old man’s syndrome”, detected by the baldness of his nose. She thought he was perhaps twelve or thirteen, rather than ten). This was upsetting to us because that would mean even less time to love him. However, that bald spot has since grown in and he seems to have turned back the clock on his age now.
He shook the whole visit, save the few times that I was able to hold him, infant style, in my arms whispering love and assurances. The need for surgery of the jaw was confirmed. It was us that had to, 2 weeks after acclimating him to our home, drive him a ways out of town to the specialist and leave him there, scared and shaking, for the whole day. Ginger was still very apprehensive, and jealous. She did not help him feel reassured, but I think, later, regrets this.
When I picked Buddy up that evening, he was so small, sleepy and still shaky. The miserable rain and bone-numbing chill did not help with his discomfort. As I settled him in on the sofa when we got home, he snuggled his head against a cream linen pillow and had a blanket under his butt that had been with me for twenty some years. His face tucked into the pillow and he seemed to have found comfort, somehow, I could just tell.
Subsequent visits to see Doc continued to evoke the shakes. Sometimes he would shake so hard I thought he might be causing himself pain. However, last month, when we pulled into the drive outside the vet, he didn’t shake. Instead, he jumped right out and walked inside with, what I thought, looked like a little leap to his step. Ginger straggled right alongside (they had a double date with the “new” Doc (though they’ve been with her some time now that the original Doc retired)).
There was a large dog sitting on the floor next to his Mom in the sitting room. Had we been out for a walk, I could expect Buddy to bark excitedly and growl at this dog, plunging forward and snipping (still not sure what that behavior is about). Yet he went up and they kissed each other hello instead (it was Ginger that let out a little growl). I put Buddy up on my lap and he sat, happily, smiling even, tongue out and not one single shake.
We were called into the exam room; Buddy and Ginger sat compatibly together on the exam table. Ginger volunteered to be first because she always likes being first. Buddy calmly watched as Ginger was poked and prodded. When his turn came, he even opened his mouth to let the Doc see inside. Buddy was on the “naughty list”. He has required the “Santa hat”, AKA, the muzzle, so named after the (size small, or was it extra small?) red one he wore previously with the faux sheepskin interior, due to his insistence that nobody (n o b o d y) touch the inside of his mouth, or his ears, without putting on his ferocious, snarling, biting “act”. No one was harmed in this event, but his pride bruised perhaps (again, not sure what THAT behavior is about). Yet here he sat, finally at ease to be at the Vet; happy to be there, taking comfort in sitting next to Ginger and trusting that things would always be okay.
As insignificant as this all might seem to some, to a dog lover, dog parent or looker-on, the joy of a happy dog, a dog smiling from ear to ear; long, wet, pink tongue dangling lopsided from a half-toothless mouth, and eyes lit up with a look, saying they are happy to be alive – can be contagious. So on this day, this visit to the Doc, Buddy made a lot of people smile and continues to bring our home joy. It was very significant to us; there’s just something about Buddy…
Dinner that night, business as usual; gotta love that!