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My Dog, my Pal Lamont Defuses Simmering D.C. Racial Tensions

13 Jan
Lamont Defuses Simmering D.C. Racial Tensions

Lamont Diaries continued:

By Nate Thayer

My pal, Lamont, has made it clear he wants to be active on the high powered Washington social circuit, to hang out with the Big Dogs.

And he insists that cannot be accomplished in front of the computer, on the couch, from my living room. Requiring someone to carry Lamont’s (poop) bags, means that I have been forced into the maelstrom of the canine cocktail circuit in recent days, attending the dog equivalent of receptions, diplomatic functions, book signings, block parties and grand openings that Lamont has crashed. And each has offered new, surprise encounters.

Today, on our way to schmooze with the regular after-work gathering of the neighborhood canine hoi polloi in the dog park, a frightening scenario appeared on the sidewalk rapidly bearing down on us.

Four young African American men headed in our direction on an isolated side street, perhaps twenty five meters in front of us. They were swaggering purposefully, loudly engaged in boisterous smack talk, two of them well over six foot 5 inches tall, dressed in baggy jeans and wife beater tank top t-shirts, with long dread locks, sunglasses, and do rags on their heads.

They were holding chains attached to choke collars, which were restraining  two huge pit bulls. They all fell silent as they approached Lamont and I.

I had an ominous flashback to a 1970’s Charles Bronson flick.

My instinct was to cross the street, but Lamont would hear nothing of the sort. He tugged tightly at his leash, rapidly wagging his tail, making it impossible to remain either inconspicuous or neutral, insisting on giving the teenagers a proper hello.

Lamont, you may have miscalculated this one, pal,” I muttered.

Lamont at rest after a hard day's work addressing D.C.'s racial problems

Lamont at rest after a hard day’s work addressing D.C.’s racial problems

Within seconds, I was surrounded. And Lamont disappeared under the saliva dripping jowls of the two Pit bulls, who, in comparison, made Lamont look more akin to a gerbil than a dog.

“How old is he?” said one of the Crip impersonators in a monotone. I attempted to sound relaxed and answered.

“What’s his name?” said Crip number two.

“Lamont,” I replied trying not to sound meek.

“This is Slick and that is Rufus,” said Crip number three, pointing at the killer beasts who had my virgin Lamont on his back only slightly visible under the rippling muscles, shaking jowls, hooded eyes, and flying saliva enveloping him on the sidewalk.

I felt a lingering unease that, at any moment, my fate would be similar at the hands of my human counterparts.

 

Lamont Hard at Work Solving the World’s Social Ills

Lamont, however, appeared to be enjoying himself thoroughly.

He leaped from beneath the killer pit bulls and jumped up on the leg of Slick’s owner, wagging his tail ferociously and, looking two meters skywards into the sunglasses framed by dreadlocks, demanded a smooch and reciprocal gesture of affection.

“He is sssooo cute!” exclaimed Slicks sidekick. And the rest of the gang melted in unison offering a series of cooing sounds and baby talk.

We exchanged pleasant conversation for a couple of minutes, punctuated by smiles and easy laughter, before moving on our separate ways.

The Great Lamont had singlepawedly diffused the tension.

Or refused to recognize any where it didn’t need to exist. Either utterly clueless or unpolluted with preconceptions, Lamont wiggled and wagged and whistled toward the park, looking up at me.

“What?!?! They seemed like a pretty friendly bunch to me!” he said. “Relax.”

Lamont is either a reckless idiot or a genius. I may have learned something today. Perhaps Lamont just had nothing to unlearn.

 

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Lamont and I have a Serious Chat

12 Jan

Lamont and I have a Serious Chat

 

Today, Lamont and I had a serious talk about how the earth spins, and that his conduct of late is throwing it off its natural trajectory.

 

Today, while partaking in his daily cardio vascular regiment in the park, Lamont insisted on making the rounds of the gathered humans, and greeting them in his inimitable way.

 

By peeing on their legs.

For the fourth day in a row.

 

 

More than once, I was forced to walk up to an unsuspecting victim and say: “Uh, I apologize on behalf of my dog, Lamont, for peeing on you.” Which was followed by downward glances at the moist spot on their pant legs. Which was followed by a dumbfounded expression of “I really don’t know what to say to that.”

 

Lamont, also, galloped at full speed, leaping through the air, and attempted to chew the foot off a baby in a harness attached her Mom’s chest. This now makes Lamont’s assault and battery count on neighborhood children dangerously nearing the triple digits.

 

We were metaphorically frog marched out of the public park and returned home.

“Lamont, pal, trust me on this: You are not building popular support by peeing on people’s legs,” I said to the mutt, as he sat staring up at me on the floor by the couch. “Human’s don’t think like you. They do not see it as a bonding moment. And as for attacking their progeny, no matter how loving your intentions are, let me be clear: This will only end very, very badly for you unless you cease immediately.”

 

I told Lamont he was at considerable risk of being banished from the dog park, the center of Lamont’s universe, unless he changed his ways promptly.

 

Lamont was silent for a moment, taking in these new revelations.

 

“I thought peeing on things was a sign of respect acknowledging they were important to me. I didn’t know, Nate. I’m sorry,” he said, his droopy eyes looking hurt and sad. “I love the Park. I will try and not pee on anything with a circulatory system from now on. Please don’t stop coming with me there. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

 

“What about assaulting the children?” I said.

 

“Well, I think assault is a bit harsh. I was just trying to smooch them.”

 

“Lamont!??!!! Just leave the short humans be, OK?!? They get plenty of smooches without your assistance. Believe me, their guardians are organizing defensive measures as we speak. You have not seen the wrath of God until you cross a young mother. And you are riding on the fumes of your reputation at this point. Trust me. There is no room for negotiation on these two matters.”

 

I repeated that his future as a member in good standing of the dog park canine contingent was in serious jeopardy.

 

Lamont’s eyes got very wide as his mind raced. “I will try my best,” he said after a long pause.

 

That is all I can ask of my pal, Lamont. I am not hopeful.

My Pal, Lamont, and a Day in his Washington, D.C.

12 Jan

By Nate Thayer

 

Lamont and a day in his Washington, D.C.

 

The Great Guru Lamont took me on a long outing to survey is domain and his people from which we just returned. As usual, there were pleasant surprises awaiting.

 

It seems anything that makes a noise, movement, or has a circulatory system merits the singular laser focus of Lamont, who, like all the great politicians,  bestows his undivided attention making one think they are the only thing that exists on the planet for the briefest of moments, leaving one breathless and swooning before moving on to the next voter.

 

After leaving the gates of our estate, Lamont took his obligatory long pee. For which he was rewarded with obsequious congratulations and a cookie.

 

On the way to the park, Lamont and I took a shortcut through the alley.

 

First, he focused on the cockroaches  which he has recently discovered emerge in the urban summer heat and make for wonderful light entertainment rooting out from the concrete crevices and batting around.

 

Then he spotted a furtive fellow hunched in the shadows of the alley. Lamont tugged and wiggled, insisting we go over and give the man a proper hello.

 

The man seemed hesitant. As we got closer, I spotted him awkwardly juggling a hypodermic needle in one hand and an elastic, thin Bunji cord in the other.

 

But Lamont ignored that he was a bit preoccupied, and whined and wagged his tail stretching his snout out in a decidedly non judgmental gesture of bestowing his stamp of affection and approval until he had the man’s attention and heart.

 

The man smiled and turned to Lamont: “Aaaww, go on with your bad self!” he said sweetly.

 

Satisfied he had evoked a grin from the man, Lamont trotted on forward with me on his leash.

 

At the corner was a man standing looking across the street waiting the arrival of a smiling woman in a flowing sundress heading our way.

 

Lamont ignored him and focused on the apparition of beauty cascading his way.  They met midway across the street and Lamont went to work. He glowed and glistened, smiled and swooned, leapt and demanded smooches.

 

“Oh you are a cutie patootie!” she cooed as she bent down to take Lamont and pull him against her ample bosom.

 

By this time the light had turned green  and Lamont was holding up traffic. But no horns honked, all eyes on Lamont. Some seemed to be taking notes.

 

It wasn’t clear whether the gentleman waiting on the corner was amused.

 

We finally reached the park. Lamont’s home base. Although technically dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States who freed the slaves, in practical application it is the domain of which Lamont both reigns and rules under a very benevolent dictatorship.

 

We passed the child’s playground where hushed murmurs of “Look honey, there’s Lamont!” were  heard as the masses stood still while the Great Lamont wiggled by.

 

Lamont headed towards a circle of teenage girls sitting in a circle on the grass, apparently part of a a summer Bible Study outing from a local Baptist church. They cried out in unison: “That is the cutest puppy ever!” and I unlatched the leash holding Lamont back from bestowing his smooches on His people.

 

He bounded at full speed over and leapt through the air into the middle of the crying, nearly-in-tears gaggle of teenage angst, as if he were a canine incarnation of Justin Beiber and Mahatma Gandhi.

 

Lamont vigorously, from inside the circle, smooched and yelped signs of approval at each and every one of the young gals, going round and round the circle, making sure to give extra attention to the ones with acne and extra poundage, and they responded in kind. For ten minutes.

 

 

 

Lamont posing for His People

 

With them all sated in tears of joy, we moved on, to the statue of Abe Lincoln in the middle of the park. It was there that Lamont met Grumpy, a floppy skinned mutt of Basset Hound descent who, after a moment of reluctant pause, was smitten with the young Lamont. And they bounded about roughhousing.

 

“ He is awfully cute,” smiled Grumpy’s lovely young human.

 

“He is,” I said, “he seems to have figured out the essential ingredients of happiness.”

 

Lamont returned with a crab apple and dropped it at her feet.

 

“Lamont seems to have taken a liking to apples, “ I said. He had brought one home yesterday and then swiped my half eaten one from the bedside table later in the night.

 

“I make a great sweet potatoe pie,” she said.

 

“I do love sweet potatoe pie,” I said.

 

And then we all went back to Grumpy’s place. She wasn’t fibbing. We all enjoyed her homemade sweets, and after some time, Lamont and I headed home.

 

“See, I told you if you stuck with me I would take care of you!” said Lamont on our way home, rather proud of himself.

My Pal, Lamont, is a Cheap Date

12 Jan

Lamont Diaries continued

Lamont is a Cheap Date

My new pal, Lamont, is a cheap date.  And a bit of a shameless hussy. Sometimes it is a bit alarming, but he seems to think that is my problem.

He was gracing the neighborhood with his presence today, strolling, sniffing, wagging and peeing, interrupted every few minutes to insist on greeting warmly all manner of passing strangers for idle chit chat.

These people now comprise a growing body of what can be best described as Lamont’s cult followers. Or Loyal Subjects. Or Reserve Harem. Or maybe they just like him. I am a bit confused. It isn’t normal.

At one point we encountered a cardboard box on the sidewalk with a taped note attached: “Free.”  Lamont thrust his snout indelicately into the contents, sifting through the utensils, knick-knacks, and out of date computer attachments, and surfaced holding his selection: A brown and yellow striped stuffed tiger.

Clenched in his teeth, he then sat and looked up at me with those irresistible watery, droopy eyes and asked me: “Can I keep it, pal?”

“Sure you can, Lamont” I said. “It’s free.”

Lamont lit up, rose to his full height of ten inches, ears perked at attention, nose held at an angle skywards, and started to prance and trot down the street showing it off as if it was the Hope Diamond.

Lamont employing his bedroom eyes to encourage extra swooning and smooches from friend and stranger alike

A few meters ahead Lamont spotted an attractive young woman taking in the early evening breeze on the front stoop of her house. He froze. Then whimpered. Then wiggled. Then tugged, insisting I get with the program, and headed her way.

He stopped momentarily at the stairs leading up to her.

“Hi sweetie! What’s your name?” she flirted.

And Lamont bounded up the steps into her open, welcoming arms. They smooched for a second. Then Lamont placed the Hope Diamond on her porch and focused on her sundress, under which he showed a singular interest. She giggled, faux objected, and they exchanged more smooches.

I, meanwhile, stood mute on the sidewalk holding a clear plastic bag of Lamont’s poop.  I think she smiled at me. It isn’t entirely clear it wasn’t a gesture of pity.

Lamont then bid a wiggly farewell and we continued, greeting a few more of his growing band of devotees as we sauntered, pranced, and trotted on home, his stuffed tiger held prominently aloft.

Lamont gave me a sympathetic look at our front door and said: “Don’t worry pal. You will get the hang of it. Just stick with me.”

That sounds like a plan.

Sleep With the Angels, Buddy: Photographing the Death of My Friend

3 Nov
Buddy left us forever today

Buddy left us forever today

Preparing Buddy to go to a better place. He was sedated and sleep alive, but he was near sleeping. The Dr. prepares the drugs that will cause his heart to stop, when he will die.

Preparing Buddy to go to a better place. He was sedated and sleep alive, but he was near sleeping. The Dr. prepares the drugs that will cause his heart to stop, when he will die.

My old friend, Buddy, left us, forever, this afternoon. Below, I am listening to Buddy’s heart stop beating. He took a last,deep gasp, an inhale of breath. It was the sound of death. I have heard it many times before. I knew Buddy was gone. He lived a good life and died a good death.

buddy32He died painlessly. He was surrounded by love when he went to wherever good dogs go.

Buddy, surrounded by love from his family

Buddy, surrounded by love from his family

We said goodbye. Buddy, a few minutes before he went away, forever, today.

The doctor released him from his suffering

The doctor released him from his suffering

Buddy gets the final, loving death drug that stops his heart

Buddy gets the final, loving death drug that stops his heart

My friend, Buddy, a few weeks ago

My friend, Buddy, a few weeks ago

The doctor came over and eased him from his suffering. Buddy lived a good, fulfilled life.

buddy2He is no longer suffering. Buddy had departed a few minutes earlier. But here his body departs his house. His ashes will come back to me and I  will keep them, forever, in a special place, with me always

Written the evening before Buddy was eased out of this world:

Good Bye, Buddy, My Friend. Thank You for Making Me a Better Man

By Nate Thayer

November 2, 2013

Good bye, Buddy, my friend. Thank you for making me a better man.

My enduring, very important, exceptionally wise, unconditionally loving friend, Buddy, has made me a better man in the ten years and five months we have known each other.

Buddy and I had a long talk today.

He told me that he has had a very worthy, very fulfilling life, full of fun and joy and meaning, has had special friends who he knows have loved him very much, and a full breadth of mostly happy and all meaningful and important adventures and experiences.

He told me he loved me. And I told him I loved him, very much, and I wanted him to know that having him in my life has made me a better man.

But, today, he told me that the flame of his inextinguishable candle, which has made his life glow and shine on this earth, has been irreversibly, increasingly flickering in recent months, and he asked me if I would be with him to gently blow it out.

The time has come, he said, for his this life to end, and he asked me to help him go gently, with dignity, into the good, permanent night.

He said that he has been in a lot of pain and it has sabotaged his ability to be joyful.

He cannot muster the strength, after a lifetime of his maximally used muscles, to rise after he needs to lay down and rest, which is now most of the time.

He cannot walk without a great deal of pain.

He cannot see the things and people who have brought him delight and pleasure and make his life worthy.

He cannot hear the sounds and voices of pleasure and love that have surrounded him, without pause, for more than a decade now.

He cannot eat much and he is weak.

And he told me that it frightens him to feel the steady march of the erosion of his mind.

He asked me to help him to go gently, surrounded by love, from this world to a different, unknown place. Even if that place is no place at all, he said he has had a good life full of meaning and joy.

I told him, as he has known has always been true, I would do anything for him, as best I knew how, that will help make him more satisfied, more content, that would give him more pleasure, that would make his heart warmer than one of the already warmest hearts of any of God’s creatures.

He kissed my face and I kissed his forehead, for a very long time. I promised him I would do my best so he would feel better, soon.

Tomorrow, Sunday November 3, a doctor will come to Buddy’s house and I will be holding him tightly in my loving arms as she eases him into a permanent, good, better, final, irrevocable night, and in my elusive dreams and hopes and fantasies, a sunnier bright new dawn where his heart would only smile and be smiled upon.

I want my friend, Buddy, to know this:

Buddy, you have been one of my oldest, closest friends, ever since you were given a reprieve from death row a decade ago and came to live with me.

Buddy has lived with my brother the last couple of years, where he has a backyard and three young whippersnappers who love him.

Buddy you have had a good life, and you have made this world a better place because you have lived. And you have made my life much richer by sharing yourself with me.

You are an older guy, now, Buddy. Glaucoma clouds your eyes and your hearing is worse than mine. You cannot now muster the strength in your well used legs to get up.

I have had to carry you down two flights of stairs so we could amble ever so slowly to the dog park.

The other day, it took us 23 seconds to cross the street. We had to stop and retreat several times because we wouldn’t have made it to the other side before the light turned green.

But you have been, still, very happy, despite your increasing challenges.

These things happen to all of us, Buddy.

I have been so pained to have watched them happening to you now, increasingly diminishing the joy you have had from, and respect you have accorded, simply being alive.

These are some of my thoughts for you, my friend, Buddy, now.

My tears of sadness are clouding my ability, as I write these words, to say goodbye.

But they are exceeded by my memories of the joy and meaning you having been part of my life and this world has brought me:

To my friend, Buddy:

I remember when I first heard of you.

It was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a rural church basement.

Someone—a volunteer at a local human society—stood up and said he loved you but you were scheduled to be executed the next day because you did not have a home.

The man said you were a good dog and you just needed someone to love you.
That was in May 2003. I had just gotten home from Iraq. And I needed someone to love me too, Buddy.

So I told the man “Stay the execution, the boy has a home.” We hadn’t actually even met yet, Buddy.

I came to the dog prison and you were hiding at the back corner of your jail cell. They opened the door, and you came out reluctantly but with dignity, but looking humiliated and defeated.

They said you had been a bad boy. They were very wrong, Buddy.

They said that you would run and run and run, and that you demanded to live a free life and that the hated Dog Police had arrested you umpteen times and they had had enough.

So they captured you and put you in a cage.

And then, when nobody wanted to give you a home, they sentenced you to death.

You came out of jail and, once out the front door, you broke free from me, because you didn’t know me then Buddy. I would have done the same thing, if I had been you, then.

You ran and ran and ran from the jail. We had to chase you down the rural roads of Maryland’s Eastern shore until we captured you again.

And then you came home with me, Buddy. That was 10 years ago last summer.

And Scoop, my pal from Bangkok, who we both know had a pea brain but a big heart, and we both know, Buddy, really considered that she was an entitled Princess, was also part of your new family. To be honest and generous, she sometimes was a bitch. She was not very nice to you, Buddy.

But, after all, she was born in a fetid sewer on the streets of Bangkok and now had her own waterfront estate in America. She had had a hard life, too, Buddy, and you understood that.

But you were then, as you are now such a good, tolerant boy. You put up with her snarls and growls—just standing there and letting her have her fit.

And you told me: “It’s OK, Nate. If you have enough room in your heart for me and Scoop, I have enough room in mine for you and Scoop, too.”

You taught me to think of others before myself and that anger and ego and revenge and grudges rarely make anyone happy or improve any situation.

I love you for that, Buddy. You taught me how to be a better man.

Scoop wouldn’t let you sleep on my bed for 6 years, but you would come smooch me each night and then you would sleep blocking the bedroom door. I knew you were trying to protect me, Buddy.

So many nights you would bark at what you suspected was some bad guy, and you were right more than a few times.

Do you remember nearby there was a minimum security juvenile prison and how many times those poor fellows escaped? But the problem was there was only one road out to freedom because we lived on that long peninsula that was surrounded by water. It was nine miles to the nearest store and so, many times, the escaped prisoners would sneak across our farm fields and try to steal my truck to make their getaway.

And you would have none of that, Buddy, would you?

So you barked and barked and ran to the door and back to me until I paid attention and we went outside, together Buddy, with my 30 odd 6 and fired off a few very large, very loud rounds their way. And then they would go away. You were, rightly, very proud of yourself, Buddy.

You sympathized with them, but there were certain red lines for you in life that just could not be crossed. I learned which of those red lines were important to you, Buddy, and made some of them part of my own. Thank you for that, you made me a better man, Buddy.

And you forgave me when, another night, you were convinced something or somebody was outside who shouldn’t be and you barked and smooched me over and over, insisting I pay attention and go see what the ruckus was all about. I stumbled out of bed to the front door with the 45 automatic pistol we kept by our bedside, with no bullet in the chamber but the ammunition clip inserted partially in the weapon.

In truth, I may have been half drunk, Buddy. At the front door, before going outside to investigate, I tried to put a round in the chamber but I couldn’t lock and load because the bullet wouldn’t chamber and remained in the clip.

So, like the idiot I can be sometimes, I tried to load it by pulling the trigger and BOOM, I shot a hole through the wall in the front hallway and that round whizzed right by your head.

I was embarrassed for the accidental discharge and you had the bejesus startled out of you, Buddy.

But you still loved me even when I was an idiot, Buddy. I learned this quality from you, too, Buddy: Unconditional love. You made me a better man.

You were such a happy boy. You loved that big farm. You were free. All 70 acres were yours. The waterfront was yours to frolic, which you did every day. And I remember how happy you were, running full speed round and round and round the swimming pool and the deck. You were celebrating and reveling in just how happy you were to be free.

I learned that being free is very important, from you, Buddy. Thank You for making me a better man.

You are such a loving boy, Buddy.

When Scoop died in my arms, her head resting on my shoulder, in my bed, you smooched her one last time. Even though she never smooched you, once, in six years.

You saw how devastated I was and you smooched me, too, and you put your paws over my heart and your head on my neck. And you crawled up into my bed and you never left me in the years since.

You taught me the importance of tolerance and empathy, Buddy. You made me a better man.

That was the first night you slept all night in my bed, and you did every night afterwards. You were understanding, forgiving, and loyal, Buddy. I learned that from you, too, Buddy. Thank you for making me a better man.

And you smooched me and took care of me, Buddy, when I was sick for a very long time. You would curl up by me every night to protect me, Buddy and you would flow towards more loving when I would ebb towards sicker. I know it wasn’t much fun for you then, Buddy, but you always thought empathy towards others was more important than your own pleasure, in times when others needed you, Buddy.

I learned from you the importance of this, too, Buddy. You made me a better man.

I remember the night when the barn caught fire. You barked and barked and ran up and smooched me and ran back to the front door and back again to my bed, until I woke up and saw what the commotion was all about. You were so proud of yourself. As you should have been, even though the barn burned down.

You believed that you can not try and certainly fail, or you can try and you may succeed or fail. For you, Buddy, it is more important to try and fail than not try at all. I learned that from you, Buddy. You made me a better man.

You were the perfect guard dog, and your unqualified loyalty to those you love and those who loved you never wavered. You are the perfect friend, Buddy.

I love you Buddy and I know you love me. We love each other with all our hearts.

I want you to know that those hated Dog Police Nazi’s who sentenced you to die ten years ago because they said you were a bad dog were wrong, Buddy. You are a very good dog. The world is a better place because you lived.

Then I got sick again, Buddy, and you were such a loving boy. Every night, curling next to me and kissing and licking me. You would wait there, by my side with me, till the morning when I woke, making sure I was OK, before you went out for your long stroll and swim and frolicked, just thankful to be blessed to be alive, to celebrate your freedom. Every day.

You knew what freedom was because you had experienced it denied to you, Buddy. I learned how important it is to remember that, Buddy, from you. Thank you for making me a better man.

I love you Buddy.

You are an older guy, now, Buddy. Your eyes are clouded from Glaucoma.

You still are such a tolerant fellow, Buddy, such a very loving, very, very good boy.

Now, you let Lamont annoy you and you understand. You let him play his childish puppy games and you even let him eat your food.

And, now, Lamont lies next to you staring up at you, wondering how he can be the man you are.

You have shown others a code to live by, by your example, Buddy.

I am very happy and proud to tell the world what a beautiful boy you are, Buddy. It doesn’t matter to me if they can’t understand.

I learned that when you are saying the right thing, believing the right thing, behaving the right way, it doesn’t matter how different people may interpret it. I learned that from you, Buddy. You made me a better man.

These are just some of the many ways you have made me a better person than I was before you blessed me with sharing your life with me, Buddy.

Now, you are still as wise but you are more fragile, Buddy. Now, when you come and sleep next to me it is the time for me to show you how important you have been in my life.

I love you Buddy. Thanks for being my friend. I will miss you very much Buddy.

But I will celebrate your life and how lucky I have been to have you share your wisdom and character with me, because you deserve to be remembered with a smile and warm feeling in my heart.

Because, while you are a better man than I, Buddy, you have made me a better man than I was before I was lucky to have you share your very important, special self with me.

Goodbye, my friend.

I love you now and I will love you forever, Buddy.

I will be holding you very closely, tightly in my arms full of love, as you go gently away from me and from all those who have been lucky to have crossed your path, tomorrow, forever.

But, I want you to have no doubt of this: you will remain alive forever.

You represent the better part of who I am today.

Goodbye, my Friend, Buddy. Thank You for Making Me a Better Man

2 Nov

Good Bye, Buddy, My Friend. Thank You for Making Me a Better Man

By Nate Thayer

November 2, 2013

Good bye, Buddy, my friend. Thank you for making me a better man.

My enduring, very important, exceptionally wise, unconditionally loving friend, Buddy, has made me a better man in the ten years and five months we have known each other.

Buddy and I had a long talk today.

He told me that he has had a very worthy, very fulfilling life, full of fun and joy and meaning, has had special friends who he knows have loved him very much, and a full breadth of mostly happy and all meaningful and important adventures and experiences.

He told me he loved me. And I told him I loved him, very much, and I wanted him to know that having him in my life has made me a better man.

But, today, he told me that the flame of his inextinguishable candle, which has made his life glow and shine on this earth, has been irreversibly, increasingly flickering in recent months, and he asked me if I would be with him to gently blow it out.

The time has come, he said, for his this life to end, and he asked me to help him go gently, with dignity, into the good, permanent night.

My Friend, Buddy, in recent months

My Friend, Buddy, in recent months

He said that he has been in a lot of pain and it has sabotaged his ability to be joyful.

He cannot muster the strength, after a lifetime of his maximally used muscles, to rise after he needs to lay down and rest, which is now most of the time.

He cannot walk without a great deal of pain.

He cannot see the things and people who have brought him delight and pleasure and make his life worthy.

He cannot hear the sounds and voices of pleasure and love that have surrounded him, without pause, for more than a decade now.

He cannot eat much and he is weak.

And he told me that it frightens him to feel the steady march of the erosion of his mind.

He asked me to help him to go gently, surrounded by love, from this world to a different, unknown place. Even if that place is no place at all, he said he has had a good life full of meaning and joy.

I told him, as he has known has always been true, I would do anything for him, as best I knew how, that will help make him more satisfied, more content, that would give him more pleasure, that would make his heart warmer than one of the already warmest hearts of any of God’s creatures.

He kissed my face and I kissed his forehead, for a very long time. I promised him I would do my best so he would feel better, soon.

Tomorrow, Sunday November 3, a doctor will come to Buddy’s house and I will be holding him tightly in my loving arms as she eases him into a permanent, good, better, final, irrevocable night, and in my elusive dreams and hopes and fantasies, a sunnier bright new dawn where his heart would only smile and be smiled upon.

I want my friend, Buddy, to know this:

Buddy, you have been one of my oldest, closest friends, ever since you were given a reprieve from death row a decade ago and came to live with me.

Buddy has lived with my brother the last couple of years, where he has a backyard and three young whippersnappers who love him.

Buddy you have had a good life, and you have made this world a better place because you have lived. And you have made my life much richer by sharing yourself with me.

You are an older guy, now, Buddy. Glaucoma clouds your eyes and your hearing is worse than mine. You cannot now muster the strength in your well used legs to get up.

I have had to carry you down two flights of stairs so we could amble ever so slowly to the dog park.

The other day, it took us 23 seconds to cross the street. We had to stop and retreat several times because we wouldn’t have made it to the other side before the light turned green.

But you have been, still, very happy, despite your increasing challenges.

These things happen to all of us, Buddy.

I have been so pained to have watched them happening to you now, increasingly diminishing the joy you have had from, and respect you have accorded, simply being alive.

These are some of my thoughts for you, my friend, Buddy, now.

My tears of sadness are clouding my ability, as I write these words, to say goodbye.

But they are exceeded by my memories of the joy and meaning you having been part of my life and this world has brought me:

To my friend, Buddy:

I remember when I first heard of you.

It was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a rural church basement.

Someone—a volunteer at a local human society—stood up and said he loved you but you were scheduled to be executed the next day because you did not have a home.

The man said you were a good dog and you just needed someone to love you.
That was in May 2003. I had just gotten home from Iraq. And I needed someone to love me too, Buddy.

So I told the man “Stay the execution, the boy has a home.” We hadn’t actually even met yet, Buddy.

I came to the dog prison and you were hiding at the back corner of your jail cell. They opened the door, and you came out reluctantly but with dignity, but looking humiliated and defeated.

They said you had been a bad boy. They were very wrong, Buddy.

They said that you would run and run and run, and that you demanded to live a free life and that the hated Dog Police had arrested you umpteen times and they had had enough.

So they captured you and put you in a cage.

And then, when nobody wanted to give you a home, they sentenced you to death.

You came out of jail and, once out the front door, you broke free from me, because you didn’t know me then Buddy. I would have done the same thing, if I had been you, then.

You ran and ran and ran from the jail. We had to chase you down the rural roads of Maryland’s Eastern shore until we captured you again.

And then you came home with me, Buddy. That was 10 years ago last summer.

And Scoop, my pal from Bangkok, who we both know had a pea brain but a big heart, and we both know, Buddy, really considered that she was an entitled Princess, was also part of your new family. To be honest and generous, she sometimes was a bitch. She was not very nice to you, Buddy.

But, after all, she was born in a fetid sewer on the streets of Bangkok and now had her own waterfront estate in America. She had had a hard life, too, Buddy, and you understood that.

But you were then, as you are now such a good, tolerant boy. You put up with her snarls and growls—just standing there and letting her have her fit.

And you told me: “It’s OK, Nate. If you have enough room in your heart for me and Scoop, I have enough room in mine for you and Scoop, too.”

You taught me to think of others before myself and that anger and ego and revenge and grudges rarely make anyone happy or improve any situation.

I love you for that, Buddy. You taught me how to be a better man.

Scoop wouldn’t let you sleep on my bed for 6 years, but you would come smooch me each night and then you would sleep blocking the bedroom door. I knew you were trying to protect me, Buddy.

So many nights you would bark at what you suspected was some bad guy, and you were right more than a few times.

Do you remember nearby there was a minimum security juvenile prison and how many times those poor fellows escaped? But the problem was there was only one road out to freedom because we lived on that long peninsula that was surrounded by water. It was nine miles to the nearest store and so, many times, the escaped prisoners would sneak across our farm fields and try to steal my truck to make their getaway.

And you would have none of that, Buddy, would you?

So you barked and barked and ran to the door and back to me until I paid attention and we went outside, together Buddy, with my 30 odd 6 and fired off a few very large, very loud rounds their way. And then they would go away. You were, rightly, very proud of yourself, Buddy.

You sympathized with them, but there were certain red lines for you in life that just could not be crossed. I learned which of those red lines were important to you, Buddy, and made some of them part of my own. Thank you for that, you made me a better man, Buddy.

And you forgave me when, another night, you were convinced something or somebody was outside who shouldn’t be and you barked and smooched me over and over, insisting I pay attention and go see what the ruckus was all about. I stumbled out of bed to the front door with the 45 automatic pistol we kept by our bedside, with no bullet in the chamber but the ammunition clip inserted partially in the weapon.

In truth, I may have been half drunk, Buddy. At the front door, before going outside to investigate, I tried to put a round in the chamber but I couldn’t lock and load because the bullet wouldn’t chamber and remained in the clip.

So, like the idiot I can be sometimes, I tried to load it by pulling the trigger and BOOM, I shot a hole through the wall in the front hallway and that round whizzed right by your head.

I was embarrassed for the accidental discharge and you had the bejesus startled out of you, Buddy.

But you still loved me even when I was an idiot, Buddy. I learned this quality from you, too, Buddy: Unconditional love. You made me a better man.

You were such a happy boy. You loved that big farm. You were free. All 70 acres were yours. The waterfront was yours to frolic, which you did every day. And I remember how happy you were, running full speed round and round and round the swimming pool and the deck. You were celebrating and reveling in just how happy you were to be free.

I learned that being free is very important, from you, Buddy. Thank You for making me a better man.

You are such a loving boy, Buddy.

When Scoop died in my arms, her head resting on my shoulder, in my bed, you smooched her one last time. Even though she never smooched you, once, in six years.

You saw how devastated I was and you smooched me, too, and you put your paws over my heart and your head on my neck. And you crawled up into my bed and you never left me in the years since.

You taught me the importance of tolerance and empathy, Buddy. You made me a better man.

That was the first night you slept all night in my bed, and you did every night afterwards. You were understanding, forgiving, and loyal, Buddy. I learned that from you, too, Buddy. Thank you for making me a better man.

And you smooched me and took care of me, Buddy, when I was sick for a very long time. You would curl up by me every night to protect me, Buddy and you would flow towards more loving when I would ebb towards sicker. I know it wasn’t much fun for you then, Buddy, but you always thought empathy towards others was more important than your own pleasure, in times when others needed you, Buddy.

I learned from you the importance of this, too, Buddy. You made me a better man.

I remember the night when the barn caught fire. You barked and barked and ran up and smooched me and ran back to the front door and back again to my bed, until I woke up and saw what the commotion was all about. You were so proud of yourself. As you should have been, even though the barn burned down.

You believed that you can not try and certainly fail, or you can try and you may succeed or fail. For you, Buddy, it is more important to try and fail than not try at all. I learned that from you, Buddy. You made me a better man.

You were the perfect guard dog, and your unqualified loyalty to those you love and those who loved you never wavered. You are the perfect friend, Buddy.

I love you Buddy and I know you love me. We love each other with all our hearts.

I want you to know that those hated Dog Police Nazi’s who sentenced you to die ten years ago because they said you were a bad dog were wrong, Buddy. You are a very good dog. The world is a better place because you lived.

Then I got sick again, Buddy, and you were such a loving boy. Every night, curling next to me and kissing and licking me. You would wait there, by my side with me, till the morning when I woke, making sure I was OK, before you went out for your long stroll and swim and frolicked, just thankful to be blessed to be alive, to celebrate your freedom. Every day.

You knew what freedom was because you had experienced it denied to you, Buddy. I learned how important it is to remember that, Buddy, from you. Thank you for making me a better man.

I love you Buddy.

You are an older guy, now, Buddy. Your eyes are clouded from Glaucoma.

You still are such a tolerant fellow, Buddy, such a very loving, very, very good boy.

Now, you let Lamont annoy you and you understand. You let him play his childish puppy games and you even let him eat your food.

And, now, Lamont lies next to you staring up at you, wondering how he can be the man you are.

You have shown others a code to live by, by your example, Buddy.

I am very happy and proud to tell the world what a beautiful boy you are, Buddy. It doesn’t matter to me if they can’t understand.

I learned that when you are saying the right thing, believing the right thing, behaving the right way, it doesn’t matter how different people may interpret it. I learned that from you, Buddy. You made me a better man.

These are just some of the many ways you have made me a better person than I was before you blessed me with sharing your life with me, Buddy.

Now, you are still as wise but you are more fragile, Buddy. Now, when you come and sleep next to me it is the time for me to show you how important you have been in my life.

I love you Buddy. Thanks for being my friend. I will miss you very much Buddy.

But I will celebrate your life and how lucky I have been to have you share your wisdom and character with me, because you deserve to be remembered with a smile and warm feeling in my heart.

Because, while you are a better man than I, Buddy, you have made me a better man than I was before I was lucky to have you share your very important, special self with me.

Goodbye, my friend.

I love you now and I will love you forever, Buddy.

I will be holding you very closely, tightly in my arms full of love, as you go gently away from me and from all those who have been lucky to have crossed your path, tomorrow, forever.

But, I want you to have no doubt of this: you will remain alive forever.

You represent the better part of who I am today.

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