Joy comes after


It’s been really tough coming  up with something to write about after that last post.

buddy new sock

I didn’t want to just go on with knitting progress reports and gushing over this new fibre or that new spindle; that seemed too disrespectful. This being, this dog, lived for the moment when my key turned in the lock, shoving a very wet nose through the gap as soon as possible, unable to contain his joy at seeing me even one more nanosecond. A love like that? Surely it is worth more than a single page on the internet, more than one short mention and then goodbye?

Buddy pawprint 1

Of course it is; but then, any spirit that touches us and loves with abandon is worth a tome of internet pages and then more again than that. And in the case of a heart that loved and was loved dearly, it makes no sense at all to talk about its worth. Yet, I find myself, along with so many of those who have lost a beloved animal companion, wanting to say, “This life mattered!” in the face of a society that wants us to move on after a week, a month, of grieving a human beloved, let alone an animal beloved. We live in a culture that barely admits it is even acceptable to grieve (for more than a day or so, perhaps) for a cat, a dog, a bird who was as much a part of the family as any human. And as anyone who has ever had a pet knows, animals love us in a way no human ever could. Not more. Not better. Just…different.

For us, the loss of Buddy is the loss of a cherished family member, a devoted spirit, one that cannot be grieved in a single blog post. We talk about “Before Buddy” and “After Buddy” now: “Before”, we had a playful, bouncy, not-terribly-bright-but-very-perceptive dog who never strayed more than a few feet from my side, the clicking of paws on hardwood just part of the music of my day. Buds.The Budster. Bud-Buds. BuddyDude.

Buddy ready for a belly rub

Now it is After. Now, After, we are a House Without its Dog.

In a House Without its Dog, bananas are just two bites too big for a person to eat alone.

Without a dog, a human cannot effectively work in the garden. Who is there to point out the hidden holes in the fence that the stray cats uses? Who is there to sniff every cut branch, every pulled weed, every picked flower, in order to  approve its removal? Who will roll just as joyously on snow as on grass, creating angels with three limbs (missing a wing, perhaps?) instead of four? Who will chomp at the BUGS that fly past so they don’t get all creepy-crawly on me?

Who will help keep the hardwood floors shiny and free of stray bits of food?

Who will get so excited at the word “Walk” that we must right then have an impromptu dance of celebration at the mere thought of a stroll around the block?

And who will fling themselves down the sidewalk the minute they see me, black ears flying and flag tail nearly spinning in circles from sheer joy?

Sheer joy, because at the end of the brief gallop down the sidewalk, waits the one most-special-est person in that dog’s whole world: Me.

I notice that the word that keeps showing up over and over when I talk about Buddy is “joy”. He was, indeed, our joy.

As with any loss, we are remembering Buddy: we tell stories, we laugh, we tear up, we cry. Remember the time Buddy got his lead so wound around the bird feeder stake that he couldn’t even move his head–he just looked up at us with those big brown eyes, tail slowly wagging: “Mom, can you come get me out of this? I’m sorry I’m stepping on your flowers.” Remember when? Remember when…?

I didn’t mean for this to be a maudlin post. Looking back at other losses, I realize that each time one of my animals has died, I have written a story, a post, a chapter, about that be-whiskered soul and how he or she changed my life, comforted my saddened and discouraged heart, and challenged me to love, to give, to see the world in ways that made my own soul the better for every tail wag, every purr, every kiss on every furry head.

I was a cat person before I met Buddy. Budster was our first ever dog. We had no clue even how much to walk him, how to play with him, where to put his food bowl and even how to talk to him. He taught us, of course, over the years. He taught us the way of the Pack, just as our cats have taught us the way of the Tribe. We learned how to live with a dog–a very special dog–and now, I suppose, we are learning how to grieve a dog, a most beloved member of our pack.

CHISPAS
At first, I was going to skip the Chispas, and just  let the above stand on its own. But Buddy would have hated us to give up our playtime because we thought we had to be all serious and grownup and stuff. Thus, I give you Chispas.

Do we need a little lightness of heart right about now? Yes, methinks we do. Go forth and grin like a fool.

Mother Nature, bless her heart, can be quite creative at times. And sometimes, you just really want to ask her what she was thinking at the time.

(I seem to be on a theme here.) We hear a lot of stories about heroic dogs saving lives and getting Presidential Medals of Honour (well, maybe not really), but what about heroic cats? Eight Heroic Cats.

Parents, don’t let your kids become hardened criminals. Tell them to leave their clocks at home. (Honestly.)

Like many of us, I have a love/hate relationship with my web browser, with any web browser, in fact. I am a Mac Girl, and I tend to like Chrome for some reason. You know how you can install little add-ons that do useful or fun things? Here are two of my favourites:

  1. One Tab: I like to open links as I come to them in posts, emails, blogs; I like to open each of these links in a new tab, collecting tab after tab after tab until my poor computer just stops and begs for mercy. One Tab takes all those tabs and puts them on a single web page of links, closing the actual tabs without losing your place, and without having your computer lose its mind. Brilliant.
  2. Flickr Tab: Warning: This one can be addictive and cause smiling to occur. Each time you open a new tab, instead of a blank window, Flickr shows you a random  utterly  gorgeous  photo. And yes, there are kitten photos, and dog photos, and llama photos included. And even an owl.

Finally, a video that seems chosen especially for us by Buddy himself:

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About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Almost 2-yr-old kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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8 Responses to Joy comes after

  1. Marilyn Nance says:

    Sandi, Buddy was one of your family. Jeffrey and I are “cat” people, much too lazy for dogs. Over 33 years, we have had many cats. I miss everyone of them that has left us. Each one is special and cannot be replaced. I enjoy reading your posts, no matter what the topic. Perhaps another three or four footed creature will walk into your life.

  2. That was a beautiful tribute to Buddy. I’m so sorry for your loss. Any pet parent knows the loss of any person or pet is a deep kind of pain the can stop you in your tracks. Buddy may be gone, but he left behind beautiful memories.

  3. elaine says:

    Sandy… I am so sorry for the loss your family is going through. I love hearing about people’s family pet members, here and gone. Our pets and animal friends are so much a part of our lives and complete it so very much. Just remember, when you least expect it another pair of brown eyes will be there for you… Which will be a total surprise. Buddy will always be with you, always. Just as my Starr dog is with still me. )))hugs(((

    • sandi says:

      Elaine:

      A story especially for you, in honour of your Starr dog:

      My very first nickname for Buddy was “my Dog Star, the Star Dog of the neighbourhood”. I said this on our very first walk together, near our home in Colorado, the evening that we adopted him. I felt so proud to be walking with such a fine canine at my side, so beautiful and brave and sweet. And I was trying to set him at ease on this, our very first Walkies, because he had been in shelters for five months straight by then and I wanted him to begin to understand that he was Home.

      So I started talking to (with?) him…and I told him stories of the cats we had had, and how he was my very first dog. I apologised in advance for not knowing what I was doing, dogwise, but that I was willing to learn, if he would just please let me know which toys were the best to play with, and which treats were the tastiest to eat. I told him that I was so proud of him for surviving Hurricane Katrina so courageously, I was so glad that he had not only survived, but come out of it a dog amongst dogs.

      Just then, I remembered Sirius, the Dog Star, and I stopped for a minute to look up and see if I could find it in the clear Colorado night sky. Buddy patiently sat down by my side, and when I found Sirius, I hunkered down next to The Budster, pointed to the star, and told him that he, Buddy, was a star, too. A Dog Star, a shining heart with a waggy tail. He tentatively licked my face, I rubbed his ears and told him he was A Good Boy; and as we continued on our wander around the block, I sang a little song to him about Buddy, the brave Star Dog, come to live with us to bring light to our hearts.

      May you, and all pet parents, be comforted by the thought of the happy, bouncy, dignified, tails-in-the-air, scampering, playful, barking, meowing, waggy-tailed souls forming a parade before and behind us on that Best Walkies Ever, on that endless yellow brick road, somewhere over the rainbow…

  4. leslieileen says:

    I still remember my cats, each one a different personality yet each giving me much joy. I am so pleased to see you remembering Buddy’s joy, Buddy’s personalities, Buddy’s lessons in life. As you’ve experienced with past losses, you find you can go days without remembering but suddenly you’ll have a smile as a memory comes. Our loved ones stay with us.
    Blessed be!

  5. Meg says:

    Lovely tribute to Buddy. Hugs.

  6. Tamara says:

    Your reply to Elaine is yet another beautiful, and beautifully told, story. Hugs to you, Elaine, and all of us who have lost a beloved pet. They are stardust, they are golden, and they’re getting themselves back to the garden…

  7. Tamara says:

    I just found the perfect t-shirt: http://teespring.com/premium_paw?

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