Buddy's Story

On the evening of May 7, 2003 we were walking Shelby and a friendly dog trotted up to her to introduce himself. We thought that the owner would soon follow, but this didn't happen. To make a long story short, it soon became clear that this dog was not with anyone. We took the dog around the neighborhood for more than an hour and asked nearly everyone we saw if they knew where he lived. The answer was always "no."

We were not sure what to do. If he was a local dog, he might eventually find his way home if we just left him where we found him. We decided that we couldn't take that chance. If we saw him dead in the road the next day, the victim of a car, we would have never forgiven ourselves. So we took him home and put him in our backyard. We assumed that his owners would not be hard to find.

The next morning, I posted a half-dozen flyers with a color picture of the lost dog. I placed them near the area where we first saw him. I also filed a found dog report with all the local animal shelters. If someone contacted them about a missing dog that matched the physical description, time, area, etc., the shelter would contact us. No one called. After a few days, I moved the flyers to other visible locations, such as the community mailboxes. I showed his picture to people that lived near the park where we found the dog, but no one recognized him. Still no calls.

Today, I am certain that no one in our area was looking for him. Even if they didn't see the flyers, a call to any local shelter by a concerned pet owner would have resulted in a match with my lost dog report. Eventually, we concluded that either he was unwanted or he was from far away.

A few nights after we found the dog, the Front Range area experienced one of the heaviest and coldest spring snowstorms on record. The storm began as a cold pouring rain, complete with lightning, and evolved into a heavy wet snow. At that point, any reservations that we had about taking the dog home were forgotten. We were so glad that he was with us instead of out in that weather. That was the night that he moved inside the house.

Later one of our neighbors said that she saw the dog loose in the neighborhood at least two weeks before we found him. We took him to the veterinarian for a check up. They suspected that he was intentionally abandoned. This conclusion was based, in part, on the fact that he had a collar, but no rabies vaccination tag, which is hard to lose accidentally. The dog had no identification microchip and his nails were worn from contact with streets and sidewalks. The veterinarian suspected that he had been on his own for at least a month, although he wasn't starving. Some dogs can be very resourceful at finding food. She also estimated that he was between one and two years old, and possibly a Border Collie-Shiba Inu mix.

We were determined not to turn him over to a shelter, so we began to look for alternatives. For a brief period, my parents considered taking him if we were willing to bring him to Missouri, but they eventually decided that their fence wasn't dog proof, which would have been dangerous since they live along a busy and windy road. Our friends Kevin and Pat from Let's Dance Denver were interested, but they unexpectedly inherited another (very large) dog from a relative. Eventually, we decided to keep him ourselves. He would be number four, which was more than we ever thought we would have (or want), but we could make room in our house and our hearts.

His name became Buddy almost by default. The first few nights we kept him in the yard, I would check on him with questions like "How you doing there Buddy?" and "Everything OK out there Buddy?". When the veterinarian asked for a name I said "Buddy." The name stuck.

Buddy became attached to us immediately. He would follow us around the yard so closely that we sometimes didn't realize where he was. After scanning the yard for him, we would discover that he was right behind us. A few days after we took him in, I was working in the yard and I backed up and stepped on his foot. He whimpered and held his paw out to me like he wanted me to make sure that it was OK. Or maybe it was just his way of telling me that he knew it was an accident and all was forgiven. Either way, I knew that there was something special about this dog. He seems to have a unique way of connecting with people.

At first Buddy was very gentle with the Bostons. He would let them gang up on him. Panda gave him an earful on a regular basis, but they have since become playmates. They are about the same age (we think). Ali was terrified of him at first, but after a few weeks, she was brave enough to pounce on him a few times when she thought he wasn't looking. Now, she doesn't put up with any of his boisterous nonsense. If he gets in her face, she nips him on the nose.

His favorite spot in the house is lying next to one of us on the couch as we watch television. Every half hour or so, he'll put his paw on our arm and wag his tail like crazy when we respond by patting him on the head. I've never seen a dog wag his tail so much. It's not unusual for him to wag his tail just because we look at him. He loves to go for a drive, even if it's just to the veterinarian's office. He has learned every trick that the Bostons know. He is particularly good at begging for biscuits.

Buddy has a few minor bad habits. He gets a little too rough with the Bostons when he is excited. He howls when he hears a fire truck. Once, he ate a bar of soap just before we left on a camping trip. The vet said don't worry but expect vomiting within a few hours. The vet didn't mention that it would be scented, blue and sudsy.

He sleeps on a pad next to our bed. In the beginning, I would often wake up in the middle of the night and there was this furry face staring at me. I had no idea how long he had been there. Now, he rarely stirs at night. He is not much of a night creature. One night, about a year ago, he seemed restless, so I decided to take him outside to see if he needed to take care of anything. I didn't turn on the hall light because it would disturb Carolyn and the Bostons. Just as I reached the bottom of the stairs, I was startled by a racket of banging and thumping. It was Buddy tumbling down the stairs. The Bostons have always been able to navigate the stairs in complete darkness and I wrongly assumed the same was true of Buddy.

I often wonder about Buddy's past. How did he end up in our neighborhood? Did he live near here, or was he dumped in the area? What was his name before he came to us? I am certain of one thing. Someone loved this dog at one time. He is simply too affectionate to have been abused or neglected. Was he owned by an elderly person that passed away or went into a nursing home and the family simply turned him out on the street? Is there someone that he thinks about and misses when he's lonely? Is there someone that misses him? We don't know and probably never will. All we can do is show him plenty of kindness and make him feel secure. I think he understands that we are his family now and that he never has to worry about living on the street again. At least I hope he does.