It was a long time coming, but Buster the wiener dog finally met his end on December 22, 2014.
He was a lucky little fellow… He came into Wendy’s hospital more than 8 years ago, already a mature dog, because he’d hurt his back and was paralyzed from the neck down… He was able to move his head and his tail. That was it. His owners, who were in poor health, felt they couldn’t take care of him and brought him to Wendy’s office to be euthanized. It was three little words that Wendy had written in his chart on a previous visit that extended his life.
“Great little dog”
You see, Wendy very rarely editorializes in her notes, so the presence of those three words struck a chord in Wendy. She asked the people if they would surrender Buster to her care, and we’d take the responsibility for whatever happened with him. The people didn’t want Buster destroyed, so they eagerly agreed.
Wendy called me that day and said, “Come to the hospital to meet you new dog”, and she hung up. I called her back, thinking we were accidentally disconnected. She repeated the instruction, “Come to the hospital to meet your new dog”. And she hung up again.
Intrigued, I went to her hospital! And met a sorry, still little dog. Though he couldn’t move, his tail wagged like mad when I greeted him. My heart was his.
We brought him home with no assurance of his potential to be a fully-functional dog. There were lots of “messes” involved… He couldn’t move to let us know he wanted to go outside and he couldn’t move out of the mess if he pottied inside. We took a yellow car wash sponge (you know the ones that are vaguely bone-shaped) and wrapped it in a plastic bag. We’d prop Buster on this to let him “stand” outside to pee. He’d let us know he was going by raising his tail, and let us know he was finished by unceremoniously rolling off the sponge onto his side on the ground.
He’d sit on the couch with us, cuddling. We gave him lots of drugs, did physical therapy, and even doggie chiropractic.
And slowly, he started to regain the use of his body.
Eventually, he was able to “commando crawl” — pulling himself along with his front paws while his back legs dragged behind. He looked like a little black seal.
I would put Buster on one side of a room then I’d lay on the floor clear across the room. He would commando crawl all the way over to me and nestle along my chest, resting his head on my arm. And we would lay there together as a reward for his hard effort.
After that, his back legs came, unsteadily, back online. He could walk, barely, and fell down a lot. A good aspect was that he was so close to the ground it certainly didn’t hurt for him to take the many tumbles he did. The height difference between a standing weiner dog and a fallen-over weiner dog is only a couple inches.
As he got better, we decided he was a “floor dog” — not allowed on couches, beds, or to go up & down the steps. We constructed a little ramp that helped Buster get to our backyard, rather than having to navigate the steps leading to our patio. It took him trying to go downstairs once and stumbling, falling, and tumbling to the bottom before he fully agreed with our “floor dog” limitation.
Buster was about 85% functional for most of the time he was with us. Not bad for a critter that had been paralyzed!
Buster lived with us for 8 years, and his previous owners estimated that he was 8 or 9 when they brought him in to Wendy’s. So he was a good old dog, and wore down as good old dogs do.
First, he went blind. Followed by doggie dementia and incontinence and a gradual loss of hearing. We were committed to keeping him with us as long as he was happy, and when we’d set food down for him — BOY was he happy! His little tail would whip around and he’d happily munch down whatever we gave him. Buster was always a good eater.
When we got back from our Miami trip in early December, Buster didn’t look so good and he never rallied. He started turning down food, which was a clear sign that he was done. He finally told us, by not eating, that he was ready to go.
Monday, December 22, 2014, I stopped at Arby’s to get him a Roast Beef Sandwich. It’s the traditional Last Meal for our pets. Buster didn’t even finish his sandwich. I think he “left it all on the field”.
We euthanized him around 6:30pm. And, true to form, Buster christened his passing with urine and feces. A disgusting(ly cute) little beast until the very end!