Sunday, May 28, 2006
The Great Mr. Bud, May 25, 1990 - May 28, 2006
BUD was always a big hearted guy. When he was still a puppy, I lived in an 18th century house: it had very small floors, with a story and a half on the front, but an extra story on the back, where the hill dropped away behind the house. My bedroom was on the top floor, under the roof, while Guinness, Bud and Frank slept in the kitchen on the lowest floor. The stairs in between were winding, narrow and steep, with risers about as high as Bud was tall. But two or three times a night, Buddy would climb the two stories in the dark, look in on me to make sure I was alright, and then go back down the stairs to Frank and Guinness.
I'm sure that in the beginning he would sometimes have problems with the winding stairs at their narrowest part, and slip and fall in the dark. And if you know about dachshunds you know that when he went back down the stairs he was doing very bad things to his long and poorly designed back. But Bud was a hard worker who was very serious about his job, and as far as he was concerned, his first job was taking care of me. This was more important than his own well-being.
He was also a serious hunter, who was known to do things like take a running, flying leap out a door ten feet above the ground after seeing a deer outside in "Budland." Leaps like that may be normal for cats, but they're bad for dachshunds, who have a body perfectly evolved for going down into underground lairs (dachshund means "badger dog"), but very poor for jumping.
In time, all of this took a toll on Buddy, and when he was four years old, he had two badly ruptured disks. The disks cut into his spinal cord, and paralyzed his rear legs. The pain of the jagged disks cutting through the spine was excruciating, and his mother and brother ignored him and generally acted as though he was dead. But I stopped working for more than a week and got him back on the path to health. He was known as the Love Puppy, because of all the love he gave, and I thought that if I gave back a fraction of what he gave me he would be alright. In time he was walking again, but his rear leg control was never more than 80% of what it had once been, and a few times a year he would stop walking altogether. This usually happened with seasonal changes or very stormy, low pressure weather: Bud is called "the Budrometer" in the leading book on alternative veterinary medicine, because you could perfectly predict the weather by the state of his back.
Last December, Bud's brother Frank died, a few months short of their sixteenth birthday. Bud has been sad and declining ever since. His eyesight was weak, his hearing was weaker, and his sense of smell declined greatly. He had problems with incontinence, and had to frequently be carried outside.
When I went to New Orleans in April for the Gentilly charrette, Bud stopped walking, and never walked again. Since then, he has had problems with infections, bedsores that opened large holes right through his skin, and more recently, seizures that left him disoriented and temporarily blind. In the week of rain that we had in New York, he stopped eating and drinking, and seemed as though he would die.
Bud developed gangrene, and to make a long story short, more than once it seemed as though he would die quietly and without much suffering -- only to rally once again. This morning we found him in a terrible state, and we drove him to be put to sleep. On the way, he became almost lifeless, and we stopped on a beautiful Bedford road to let him die peacefully while I held him on my lap. After half an hour, he came alive again.
We drove him to the vet and tearfully put him to sleep. It was clear he wanted to continue. He had his work to do watching over me, and he wasn't ready to leave his post. But we couldn't watch anymore the pain he was putting himself through, and we were told that if the gangrene killed him it would be a difficult death.
He was a great companion, and a sweet, sweet guy. Everyone who shared his life loved him. He will be sorely missed.
— thanks to Robert and Daryl Davis, who let me take their dachshund Guinness when I left Seaside after my stint as Town Architect. I never would have bought a dachshund, but Guinness, and later Bud and Frank, showed me how special they are, with more character per pound than any breed I know of. Today is the first time in twenty years that I have not had a dachshund in my life.
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Godspeed Buddy. Thanks for spending your time with us.
Posted by: Thomas Massengale at May 30, 2006 5:34:13 PM
Sorry for your loss, John. Great eulogy. I hope another dog of Bud's calibre graces your life soon.
Posted by: pedro at May 30, 2006 7:10:03 PM
I have a 17 year old dachshund who looks very much like the picture of Bud you've posted. He also had back surgery relatively late in his life, so I can relate very well to your story.
I am very very sorry about his death, it's so sad when they go. I worry every day coming back from work that mine won't be around, but fortunately, he seems to be plodding along, even with all the problems associated with old age (incontinence, deafness, disorientation, stiffness, etc). He looks mofe like rubber chicken and I affectionately call him my chiken. I see every day as a bonus ever since he passed his 16th year.
Take care, and maybe get another dachshund. They are so unique.
Posted by: T. Sato at Jun 1, 2006 5:55:15 PM