We took Buku in for his last vet visit today. He would have been about 8 next month. Not sure about his exact birth since he and his siblings had been found on the street and gone through several rescue agencies before he found us. He'd had a heart condition since birth but the vet figured out it was a lot worse about a year and a half ago. The vets didn't expect him to live through March or April of 2011 so I guess we had an extra year or so with him. However we were giving him about 7 different medications which he didn't really like and the last one probably started kidney failure, I guess. It stopped his stomach from bloating since his body was filling up his lungs and abdomen with excess fluids and that helped him feel like eating a bit longer. However over the last few weeks or so he stopped eating except what we were able to coax him to eat which wasn't much This last week he was refusing even treats for the most part. Fortunately he didn't really seem to be in pain. The vets (regular and cardiologist vet) said that neither the heart condition nor the kidney problem would cause pain, it would just make him feel not well, like the flu or something. However he'd lost a lot of weight and I didn't think I'd like starving to death personally, nor being force fed for that matter. Since his condition wouldn't get better, force feeding wouldn't lead to something better really.
A few memories cross my mind about Buku. He liked to walk under my legs when I was sitting on the couch. It reminded me of Temple Grandin's squeeze-box (hug machine). He'd stay there awhile, my legs on one side and the couch on the other. I would scratch and pet him and he'd have a fine time until he decided he'd had enough and move on. Usually he stayed there for a while. Then he'd walk on and shake it all off.
He liked getting new toys. When he would get one he would prance around the house with that toy in his mouth. He liked to be chased with the new toy but it was his toy and he did not want to give it up. KD, our other dog, must have been a puppy in a strange household. She has no desire for any type of a toy. She won't play with them or pick them up. She also won't chase balls and has no desires for a ball. This seems a little strange for a labrador retriever. Buku usually has various toys strewn around the house. Frequently he'd lay his head on one of them and go to sleep.
Buku seemed a little afraid on walks at times but he wanted to go on the walk, particularly if KD was going. KD likes walks a lot. Buku seemed to like to back up to or over plants or bushes to take care of business. I'm not sure why. It did make picking up what he left behind a little difficult when it was on or in the branches and stems of the plant. Also after a while Buku began to recognize the sounds the light made when it indicated Walking was allowed. He'd immediately leap forward to cross the street. Once in a while there was a little confusion if the light 90 degrees to the left or right of our forward direction started beeping. I had to stop taking Buku on walks over a year ago because the cardiologist vet said taking him on walks was a bad idea. If Buku ran, particularly before his medications, he would sometimes just drop and pass out. All the blood would have gone to the rest of his body but would have left his brain. He would just faint and frequently make a loud, almost blood-curdling scream or whine. He would always get up okay from these events after a few minutes. It certainly worried us. I guess the vet thought that on a walk one day he just might not get up. It was a little worrisome also that he really loved to chase squirrels in the back yard. Over the last few months I think he figured out he really couldn't do that. He might walk fast but he rarely took off like a sprint runner which is what he used to do.
Buku also liked car rides. He'd almost always run to the door, hopeful and rush out to the car if I opened the door for him. He didn't really do anything in the car, just lay down, but he was happy to go along with us.
We tried to get him to settle or sleep on a dog bed or dog mattress but he never really wanted to do that. He usually either slept on the floor next to our bed or on the bed.
He liked MarroBones and I would usually give him a couple every morning. Then he would go to see if KD had dropped any of hers. He would sniff all over where she had just been . . . just in case. The last few days he just turned away from them.
He also had very good hearing. he could hear someone cutting a slice of cheese in the kitchen even if he were on the opposite side of the house. He would race to the kitchen for the possibility of a handout. He could also tell if the dog drawer where all the treats and chewy things were stored. He would be there in an instant if he heard it open. This actually went away a number of months ago when his appetite decreased and eventually he seemed to pay no attention to it at all.
He loved various and sundry dog chews. Every time I got on the tread mill I'd give him one. He'd finish that and come back, sit down and stare at me while I ran, always waiting, always hopeful. When I looked over to him he'd usually start wagging his tail.
He was smart too. We have these Nina Ottosson Dog Brick - Wooden Puzzles
. And he could always figure them out and get the treat. Sometimes he would have a problem pushing instead of pulling but he would just change sides. KD is clueless about these games but Buku got really good with them.
He also liked to come to where my head was when I laid down on the couch to watch TV. I'm not sure why he went there. He usually positioned himself to a place where it was awkward for me to bend my arm backward to scratch him. He usually would eventually move just enough for me to be able to pet him properly.
In the morning when I was getting up, when he heard my belt, buckling, he would almost always either immediately jump off the bed, ready, or come running from another room, full of energy, ready for whatever I was ready for. He liked to go out into the front yard with me when I went to get the morning newspapers. He'd sniff around and mark his territory occasionally but always come back inside when I headed inside.
As he walked by things during the day he liked to nudge things with his nose and watch it rock back and forth. There was one vase on a lower shelf in the dining room which he would nudge. It would rock back and forth. He would never nudge it hard enough to knock it over though. One wastebasket in the family room was also one of his favorites. He'd nudge it, watch it rock back and forth until it stopped and then walk on. He did this with a few other things but those two were his favorites. There were just at or under his height. We never taught him to do this. He just figured out the right amount to rock it but not tip it over.
If I went out to the back yard he wanted to go along. He didn't want to miss anything, I guess. He'd walk around the yard and every once in a while he'd come over to me and make it obvious that he wanted some attention. He'd get some and then he'd wander off again. When he was inside in the daytime if we were in the family room and sometimes when we weren't he liked to sit or lay at the back door and watch the back yard. Sometimes he'd take a nap at the door but if he heard anything he'd be wide awake in an instant.
When I would come home from work occasionally Patty would let him out the garage door. He'd run right up to the driver side door, stand there looking at me but also sniffing the floor to see if I might have dropped something interesting.
In the evening he would usually like to sit next to a chair or an ottoman. He seemed to like to have one side safe, secure. He liked to sit next to a chair in the living room. I think from there he could see down the halls to the bedrooms but also into the kitchen and family room. He liked to know what was going on and where people were.
He was a good dog. . . . and a good friend.
He looked at me, "What going on? I don't know what's going on. I'm afraid." He pushed his head into me. "Protect me." I could not. I feel as if I have failed him.