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April 28, 2018

R.I.P. Ol' Buddy

We laid Bonnet Bleu to Rest on this day 4/28-2018

I am sorry to say that our beloved Catahoula, Bonnet Bleu left the body this morning at 11 am.  
"Buddy" was the kindest biggest-hearted dog ever. Through the 12 years I had the blessing of his unruly company he accepted so many other dogs, adopted and/or fostered, as well as goats and birds and never once raised a hackle or growled at a newcomer. Amrita once said that even his bark had a "Hey, I'm Buddy" quality to it, deep and kind like his heart.  
Buddy had been in failing health probably for quite a while because his personality began to change, he became more frightened and anxious. I thought and told many that he had canine alzheimer's. He also was a bit blind and quite deaf.   A couple of months ago I thought I noticed a bump on his side that was more than a full stomach since it did not appear on his other side  - Buddy always liked to eat and had topped the scales at 85 lbs.  About 4 weeks ago I took him to the clinic but the vet said she could feel only something a bit suspicious but he obviously was not in pain so to let him eat whatever he would eat. He had lost considerable weight already. But 2 weeks ago things got much much worse.  The bump didn't seem any larger but Buddy was clearly compensating by walking crooked, giving him a  crab-like gait.  Then at the beginning of this week he lost the use of his right hind leg. It would simply fail him when going up the steps and you could see him valiantly steeling himself for the climb and mustering all his energy. Sometimes he would make it up the 4 steps and sometimes the leg would hold him back and he would sit back down then I had to gently prod him and help pull him up.  Then Thursday his left hind leg gave out as well. He had walked down the front steps to the front porch and could not come back up so I put a big blanket down there for him and gave him some water and some broth with rice which he ate.  He had only been eating some ramen noodles and some rice & broth for the last few weeks.  In many ways the front porch was the best place for his last days: from there he had a clear view of the front yard and the street, the comings & goings of everyone and he was not bothered by the younger dogs.  Yesterday, Friday was the worst.  I took him out to the grass - he valiantly tried to raise himself for a few steps only to collapse, then again.. panting copiously and shaking so I knew he was feeling some great discomfort.  No more tail wagging.  But I wanted him to experience the grass & sun one more time because if there was something that Buddy liked best of all, that was running free, rolling in the grass and sunning out. 
I loved Buddy SO much and then of course Buddy drove me crazy!  There were many MANY instances of my screaming, Buddy, I'm going to kill you with my bare hands!  Usually when he had found yet another place where he could dislodge the fence just a tiny bit and get himself under the house and out.  
It would mean moving lots of stuff around, cutting another piece of fence material, using whatever I could to block the new Buddy-tunnel or the new Buddy-secret-passage and then nursing my scratched up and bleeding hands.  Then I would have to find Buddy..I'd see him here and there, appearing at the edge of the woods or by the camellias or between the palm garden and the street and I would shout "Buddy" for the whole neighborhood to hear, but Buddy would just look at me over his shoulder then slink away, "not yet".  In time he would come back - sometimes after 2 or 3 days, exhausted and hungry but happy of his adventure.  Buddy was the essential Blue Dog, the elusive now- you- seem- me- now- you- don't catahoula spirit. In fact his wanderings never took him so far, he would only circle the land around, the woods, explore at his heart content but bother no one.
If I managed to mend an escape route before he could make use of it, then I could see him pacing up and down, thinking up some alternate plan.  He probably had a secret place with maps and a compass and hidden tools!  
Even yesterday as he lay on the grass his catahoula spirit showed stronger than his failing body and he did try to crawl a bit here and there and so I knew his heart was so big that if I was to let him have a natural death it would take a very very long time, a prolonged agony, his heart would not give up that easily.  So I made an appointment with the vet for this morning and I was there with him through his last breath, softly chanting to him and reminding him of the day I picked him up, this big boisterous puppy , four months old, from the SPCA in Slidell.  How he sat in the truck next to me, looking at the world around, happy and confident.  I petted his wonderfully soft ears - and said to him again as we had said to him hundreds of times before, Buddy you have the softest, most velvety ears of all the dogs. And he did.  
Buddy is resting now beneath the Buddha head in the backyard and later I'm going to put a big Mexican pot there with a blueberry bush in it  to remind us of our wonderful blue dog. 
Personally I am sure that in some future time, not so distant, there will be a lineage of Blue Hat sages and monks, founded by a lama with an extraordinary huge heart and it will be a school of immense compassion and maybe that old lama will be very fond of traveling and great open spaces. He may even be a bit of an unruly character but he will be loved by all those whom he touches.