I had him cremated, and brought his ashes home this past Friday.
But it isn't the goodbye that I want to talk about, it's the beautiful soul that came into my care 10 years ago. Buster was a rescue, apparently adopted by some Winter Texans down in South Texas who, went they returned to their home up north, left Buster chained to a tree. By the time he was found, he was so hungry he was trying to eat rocks. The veterinarian who cared for him estimated him to be around 4 years old. I always figured he was younger, not a little puppy but not old, maybe around 1 or 2 years old. I know he grew a little more, bulked up some, after I got him.
Buster was a sweetheart. Despite his rough start in life, he didn't have a mean or even grumpy bone in his body. Most rescue dogs I've known have been that way – loving, giving companions who give back far more than they receive. Maybe because of his rough start, or maybe just because he was a basset hound – a highly food-motivated breed – he loved his meals. That was one of the real clues I had that it was time, yesterday, to say goodbye. He didn't eat. I always figured if Buster turned up his nose at food, something was seriously wrong.
He didn't play. I'm not sure he knew how to play. But he was affectionate. Like all basset hounds, he was also extremely scent-oriented. Bassets have keen noses, and they will follow a scent trail with an intensity that ignores everything around them – including an owner chasing after the dog screaming his name. The one advantage the owner has is that the basset isn't one of the really fast breeds, so you do have a chance of catching up to him …
Buster, I miss you. I hope you knew – and know – how much I loved you. I have two other dogs, not basset hounds, and a cat, all rescues. I love them all, but there will only be one Buster in my life, ever. Each animal is unique, special … There will always be a Buster-sized place in my heart where, now, your memory lives.
I hold to the promise of the Rainbow Bridge.