Thursday, April 28, 2011

Buddy the Wonder Dog!

"Happiness is a warm puppy." 
                                -- Charles Schultz

Today is Buddy's birthday and what can I say?  I LOVE that dog. He's the best, no doubt about it.  He is a dream come true and has become one of my greatest joys in my daily life.  If you don't have a dog, I hesitate to tell you what to do, but I truly am sad that I let so many years go by without a dog in my, don't walk, and get the dearest friend for life.

I have always wanted a dog.  I actually never had a particular breed in mind but I just knew that I wanted a cozy companion.  Growing up, Brian and I would periodically beg for a dog but my mom would get a look of disgust on her face...I know it well, since I'm sure I made the same look to my own kids.  No way, I'll have to do all the work, all the clean up, all the walks, all the baths...too much work!  Little did I know that it would be a labor of love.  None of it seems like work when you're smitten.

When I was 11 and Brian was 9, our parents sat us down and told us they had something important to tell us.  They made us play 20 questions to guess the secret.  Our first question: "Does it have fur?"  They looked at us a little reluctantly when they answered, "Sort of".  That was good enough for us.  Together we bounded out of our chairs and acted as if we had won the lotto: jumping up and down screaming, "It's a dog!  It's a dog!"  Sheepishly, they revealed that it wasn't a dog but instead a new baby sister.  "What???" "Gross!"  We both ran to our rooms sobbing. (I'd like to edit to say that my sister has been one of the biggest gifts in my life and some day she will get her own blog post but at the time we wanted a dog, dammit.) We never did get one.

Fast forward to my freshmen year at college.  I leave for UC Davis and come home at Thanksgiving to of all things a dog!!! What?  I was replaced by a dog??? Who was this interloper?  I had no say in the dog, the name, the situation at all.  Apparently, Mary Claire had difficulty with my absence and so a dog entered the Boyan family home. The dog didn't know me and although I thought he was cute, I never had an attachment to Sam.  His specially prepared rice and ground turkey meals made me roll my eyes. Why did this dog, a mutt from the pound, need all of this special treatment? I couldn't relate at all. got the better of me and I found myself happily married and busy with little children.  There just never seemed to be a good time for a dog.  And, then, with the whirlwind of life I realized that if I didn't get on top of finding a dog for our family, I would repeat what happened to me and Jack would be away at college when a dog joined our family -- an irony not lost on me!

Last year I began the search.  I thought I had found a perfect match for our family when I spoke to a woman with a miniature poodle -- he didn't shed, was smart enough to train and good with kids.  She gave me her email and I put it in a safe place...such a safe place that I could never find it again. I walked and walked that same neighborhood where I had met the woman with no luck.  I guess miniature poodles weren't in the cards for us.  Months later, I saw an adorable puppy and asked the woman about her dog.  She told me he was a golden doodle.  She mentioned that there might be a breeder in Davis and so I looked online and found them.  They had photos that warmed my heart and I was hooked.  I called the breeder and we talked dogs.  I told her my fears and she offered me an escape hatch: we could get a dog from her and if it didn't work out, we could always give him back.  She would make sure that he was the pick of the litter and introduce him to children at just a few days old.  We agreed to meet the puppy at the beginning of June.

Our family tumbled out of the car and saw a tiny little cinnamon colored puppy in the grass. The heavens opened up and the angels sang.  I'm not joking -- we were entranced.  Watching a pup nip at the heels of your children is like some kind of movie moment.  We took turns holding him, snuggling that tiny bundle and laughing at our good fortune.  It was torture to get back in the car and wait another month but that's what had to happen.  We spent our time discussing names: Caroline wanted Fluffy, Cutie, or Rainbow; Patrick was determined to have Buddy; Jack and Mary Kate thought Teddy was cute and that Cinnamon would work; John offered up the age old Shit Head as a viable option...nice.  Like any world leader, I held the veto power and sided with Patrick -- Buddy it was.

He came at just the right time:  Jack needed a distraction from college angst, Mary Kate needed a lovable friend away from the teen drama, Patrick needed an opportunity to be responsible and a friend to cuddle, Caroline needed a chance to baby something and John needed something to wash away that work-a-day stress.  As for myself, I was convinced that the kids would love him and that I would like him.  I couldn't imagine loving a dog and I just thought I would be able to enjoy him in a from-a-distance kind of way.  I was completely shocked to find myself head over heels in love with a dog.  It was irrational, silly and super fun.  He demanded nothing from me, except my presence.  Just sitting by me was enough and I can't tell you the soul comfort of that kind of friendship.  In his short time with our family, he has made me giggle, sigh in contentment, ponder joy, get lost in playfullness and watch in awe as a friendly wag of a tail or a cherished cuddle fills everyone up and smooths out the rough spots of our family.

Buddy with his birthday cake and his fan club!

Grace with Buddy is everywhere: in his chocolate eyes, his lovable temperament, his playfullness, his loving and accepting presence, his patience with many, many kids and his absolute joy at you being on the planet at the same time he is.   I'm grateful for his lovely sweet self and amazed that he found his way into our family.  Caroline just a few weeks after we had Buddy told me: "Buddy will always be in my heart."  Then she paused and looked up at me.  With wide eyes she dared to ask: "Will he be in yours?"  I didn't have to think or blink, "Without a doubt, baby, without a doubt."


  1. You know Buddy must be pretty amazing when even I love him (and I don't like dogs). We talk about Buddy all the time in our house. He's certainly found a place in my kids' hearts as well. Happy Birthday, Buddy! You are a pretty amazing friend:)

  2. Oh but see...that's where the opening just haven't found "your" dog yet. I know it will be a while but Lizzy and Peter would be sooooo cute with a pup!