We met Bud haphazardly during a trip to Alsip Nursey while on a quest during the dead of winter to find spring plants for my mom's garden. He was a rambunctious, black puff of fur that fit easily into the crook of my arm and lived in a small cage in the pet department at the back of the store.
I didn't exactly plan to beg mom to let me take him home with us because we already had a dog, but I couldn't contain myself. I knew we were destined to be friends when the worker brought him out from behind the glass; we had the same view on life when I was 13: we both were intent on making lots of friends, being loud and consuming as much attention as possible. My friend, Jackie, my sister, Jillian, and I deviously dragged my mom away from picking out flowers to come see the adorable Labrador retriever puppy. "Just look at him," I reassured my mom.
And she played right into our plan. Bud smothered her with kisses, gave her pleading puppy eyes and climbed in her lap to take a snooze. And I, of course, bargained with my mom, too. I gave her my sad puppy eyes, promised to care for him and bartered with her, making Bud my Christmas and birthday presents for two years. Though, I'd like to think our negotiating won my mom over, I know it was really Bud who grabbed a hold of her heart that day and that's how he earned his name, Bud.
Though extremely cute and fun, Bud was in bad shape when we brought him home. He had a case of kennel cough, worms and digestive problems. Of course, we didn't know that when we bought him, but a friend of mine who worked at the store had told me the dogs all needed good homes quickly because many of them would get sick if they lived at the store too long. This, of course, fueled my fire when negotiating with my mom. I just conveniently left that part out. The $500 it cost to merely bring Bud home from the store was a drop in the bucket compared to the money needed to bring his health up to par.
A few days after bringing Bud home, I noticed blood in his poop. I frantically phoned the vet, and the vet said I needed to bring him there pronto. But no one was home to drive us, and there was a snowstorm raging outside. And I do mean raging. I bundled myself in a coat-like parka and boots, put Bud inside my coat and walked to the vet through about 12 inches of snow. That's how much I loved my Bud; I couldn't see him hurt and not try to fix it. Luckily, it was an easier fix -- get the worms out, give him medicine for the cough and feed him special dog food.
Bud was my constant bud throughout my high school career. He often accompanied me places -- friends' houses, the park, football games -- Bud was on the go so often he knew what the words "bye bye" meant before he was even six months old. He slept with me at night, and curled up in my bed during the day while I was at school. He even tolerated when Jillian and I occasionally dressed him up in outfits. Bud was content just to see us content.
It was hard for Bud when I went to college. He would often go into my room and tear the bed apart trying to find my smell, stopping shortly after the pillows were scattered to snuggle into the sheets. My mom would call me to tell me Bud's little heart was broken. I missed Bud then, too. I missed him so much that he came to live with me during my junior year of a college in a house I shared with countless other roommates. He was in his glory having so many friends around to visit. He even went to parties with me. He went to live back at home with mom that summer when I took on two jobs and didn't have time to let him outside during the day. That was fine, anyway, because he missed mom and Jill. He happily went home to be with them and accepted the fact that I only returned for visits. Bud also took to taking over Jill's bed when I left for college, as I guess he figured it was her turn to lose solo sleeping privileges.
Bud really comforted my mom and Jill after our other dog, Buck, died that year. Bud knew Jill and mom were really hurting, and Bud became mostly mom's dog at that point, only occasionally tearing apart my bedding when he became rather upset. I was glad Bud became mom's dog, especially when Jill went to college leaving mom with an kid less house for the first time in many, many years. He and mom went for walks together; he greeted mom with loud, excited barking when she returned home from work; he slept with mom; he watched the house while mom was there and while she was gone; he ate dinner at the same time mom ate; he waited up at night for Jill to come home when she made visits from college; he and mom were pals. Of course, he lavished lots of love on Jill and me when we went home for visits, too. He made sure to give both of us adequate cuddle time during our stays. He even welcomed my baby into the world, and graciously let Gabe crawl all over him as Gabe was learning to be gentle with dogs.
During the course of the past year, Bud began having major bacteria infections again that left him lethargic and listless quite often. Every time mom called, she mentioned she had to take Bud to the vet again because he was so sick. Bud would feel better for a few weeks after taking medicine, but then he would be right back to feeling terrible. Mom has spent a fortune during the last year trying to help Bud, though some things cannot be helped. But it didn't stop mom from trudging through the snowstorm to try. She, like me at age 13, just couldn't let Bud hurt and not try to help him.
Today was the end of the road for Bud. Mom called to warn me that he wasn't doing well earlier this week. She said she needed to take him the to the vet again. This morning was Bud's last appointment. The doctor told mom it was time. Apparently, mom was hesitant to make such a decision because the vet told mom that it was obvious mom loved Bud so much because the size of Bud's file was bigger than any other animal's file at the vet's office. That is obviously love, the vet said to mom; Bud wouldn't have a 60-page file if mom didn't love Bud and had not done all that she could to help him feel better.
Mom was the only one who said goodbye to Bud this morning. I'm sure she pet him, scratched his ears and whispered to him about what a good boy he was like she's done so many times in the past. And I'd like to think that he knew the distance we all went for him throughout his whole life -- Jill and me spinning negotiations with mom to give him a home ... my walking him to the vet in a snowstorm ... Jill begging my mom not to give him away to a friend after he ate her graduation cake and threw up red dye all over the white carpeting ... mom taking him to the vet so often that he accumulated a 60-page file ... mom knowing when it was time to let go and let him rest. I hope he saw all the tracks we tread for him and knew we did it because he was such a good Bud.