Maybe there's no law that says ice cream makes almost everything just a little bit better, but it does, so I'll be the first to admit that I've had more than my fair share of mocha chip this past week.
"Your dog's in a lot of pain," Dr. Fine kindly explained, "and there's no easy answer."
"We can either wrap the ulcerated tumor and hope for the best, or amputate the front leg, and as Buck is 14, his ability to recover from either of those choices isn't looking very hopeful . . . I'm afraid that you'd only find yourself at this crossroads once more in a few weeks." (There are no words to adequately express our sorrow at having to say farewell to our beloved dog, Buck.)
Is it odd to say that I feel as if I've lost one of my closest friends? (I have.)While we initially brought Buck home to teach Case and Tristan "responsibility," when they were still prepubescent boys (and not budding men) any mother of young children will tell you that idea was quickly thrown out the window as I became our dog's primary caregiver, dog walker, and groomer, so it's no surprise that 14 years later, the house feels strangely empty without Buck greeting me at the door.
Gone are the velvet ears and wagging tail; the smiling face and eager-to-please personality, and his constant presence as he followed us from room to room, invariably lying down smack dab in the middle of the kitchen so as not to miss a crumb that mistakenly fell to the floor. (I haven't really needed a broom for years.)
I suppose it's inevitable that we will (more often than not) outlive our pets,but it hurts just the same. Buck isn't our first dog, nor do I suspect that he will be our last, but he was incredibly special to us and amazingly dedicated in a way that human beings can never truly be (we carry far too much judgement and expectation) and as he outlived our previous dogs by several years, the bond with him was much deeper and far more ingrained. Buck wasn't just a dog; he was family. Of course, his absence is profound. The silence deafening.
"You're doing the right thing," Dr. Fine said, as her assistant laid a blanket on the ground and she gently injected Buck so he could quickly and quietly drift away, his head on Tristan's lap for the last time. (Thank you for that final kindness.)
Every animal lover who's had to make the difficult decision to "let their pet go,"knows that there's no easy way to say good-bye, but if there's a doggie heaven up above, Buck's in it now, running full speed across the fields, hurdling over the ocean waves, and diving joyfully into the water to retrieve, and that's as it should be.
So skilled was he at catching the ball mid-flight that we had to invent new games around him: Buck Ball, Over and Under, and Splashdown were just a few of the many that involved a tennis ball and our attempts to outmaneuver his natural-born instincts. Ever joyful and loving; that beautiful, silky dog was a boundless ball of Labrador energy from the day he arrived, never displaying a bad mood, a moment of irritation, or a foul temper. (I wish I could be more like my dog!)
What's this got to do with Real Estate? Not a darn thing, but Buck's appeared in these pages and stories so often, that I just wanted the opportunity to say, thank you, boy; you brought tremendous joy to our lives and you'll be sorely missed. There never was a finer dog, nor a better companion, and we loved you well.
Buck's finally at peace, and so am I, comfortable with the knowledge that we spared him the indignity of further pain. In the end, we owed Buck nothing less than our courage, our compassion, and our selfless love - traits he displayed unabashedly and often in return. (I wish I could be more like my dog.) If animals teach us anything at all, perhaps it's how to be more humane. Kindness, acceptance, devotion, these are the gifts a good dog brings to any family andBuck wasn't just a good dog, he was a great dog.
Good-bye dear friend. We will remember you fondly, but between you and me, I think that I will miss you most of all. I'm certain that I will never forget you, no matter how many other pets follow (And they should - a home should always include a pet.)
Gone, but not forgotten. Never forgotten.
I need more ice cream.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.