As many of you know, Buddy, our sweet-faced rescue dog, is a Hurricane Katrina survivor.
He was probably less than a year old when we got him early in March 2006, which means he had a pretty rough start to his doggie life, given that Katrina happened at the end of August 2005. From what we know, he was found roaming the streets of a devastated part of town with a pack of other dogs, scavenging for food amidst the flooded buildings. He was transported out of the flooded section by boat sometime in December, which means he was on his own for about 3 months after the hurricane.
This is remarkable for any animal. It’s even more remarkable for Buddy, who was seriously injured in the storm: His front left leg was smashed and broken into several pieces, possibly by the force of the flood; we think that he may also have sustained a head injury. Needless to say, he went for those 3 months without any medical care at all. We have no idea how he got through it, but he did.
His injured leg was unusable when he was found; basically, it sort of just hung there. He could use it for balance by bending down, but it clearly hurt him terribly. After cleaning him up, the folks who found him put him in the Petfinder system in hopes his people would come to claim him.
They never did. We think, given the utter devastation and high death tolls in the area where he was found, that in all probability his people did not survive. (We’ve seen photos. Not good.)
Buddy went from one shelter to another as the weeks went on. No one wanted a damaged dog. No one wanted a depressed dog who could barely raise his head. (Dude. I would totally be depressed, too, if I was in that much pain and had been through all that.) Five shelters, five states, starting in Louisiana and ending up in Colorado…
Which is where we met him. We saw his picture on the home page of our local shelter, and it was pretty much all over right then and there. We’ve never had a dog; we’ve been cat people all our lives. But one look at his sad face, his hurt paw, and his adorable freckles…well. We went to “just visit” him.
He came out of the back room looking just about as dejected as an animal can. Head down, limping, slow. We took him to a dog run, and I sat on a bench and just talked to him. Slowly…he started to sneak peeks at me. Then he came over and sat next to me to be petted.
Then he dropped down and rolled over for a belly rub.
He went home with us that day, and really, no one could ask for a better dog. Three days after he came home, he started perking up just a bit. Then, one day, he looked at me, looked at the sofa, looked back at me, and hopped up on the couch, turned around three times, and laid down, grinning like a fool.
Buddy knew he was home.
We took him to specialists for the broken leg, because it clearly hurt him pretty badly. That summer, we made the decision to amputate, because the muscle tissue from shoulder downwards was irrevocably damaged. 13 hours after the surgery to take off the leg, he was running across the hospital lobby to greet us, grinning, dancing around in circles, begging to go home.
So he’s a tripod now, and really never needed much adjustment time. He can go up and down stairs, he can hike, he can play. Whenever someone meets him on the street and says, “Poor doggie!” you can just see him grin inside and think, “Poor doggie nothing! I still have one more leg than you guys AND I get lots of attention because I’m special.”
We think he’s half Australian Shepherd and half Great Pyrenees. We know that he’s healthy, and happy, and he loves peanut butter and cheese and oatmeal and his three kitties. And his people.
And we know, beyond a doubt, that we are the lucky ones to have him in our lives.
Our beloved Buddy left us on August 25, 2015—10 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Thus, the storm which eventually brought him home to us, echoed again the day of his passing. He left us as he came to us: Visibly damaged, but with a heart as mighty as any storm that ever blew.
We love you, sweet Buddy dog.