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by BoxerKate

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Buddha's last journey

As is the case with all life, the day comes when it ends. This day rose full of warm light, yet cool; a slight breeze hung just above the ground. Last night, Buddha had come to stay the weekend with me to weather, well supervised, any ill effects of the chemotherapy we'd decided to give a test run. His lymphosarcoma causing him no real distress, nor the drugs injected to combat it, he ate dinner with tremendous relish and tore off to the yard to maul his ball. All was well.


A couple of hours later, it was no longer. It's by the grace of some god or another that he was here with me instead of alone in a crate at his co-owner Gail's house while she supped and danced the evening away, as folks will do of a Saturday night. Because for reasons unknown, Buddha bloated about eight o'clock. And within the hour, he was under light anesthesia, tube down the esophagus and pressure totally relieved and, another hour later, in my arms in a great cavernous cage at the emergency vet, groggily questioning with his enormous eyes "What happened?" He was a lucky dog last night. And, I'd like to think, today as well.

A sad fact for my precious dog: Bloat recurs if you don't intervene surgically. Considering the precarious state of his health, that wasn't an option. The only realistic one, then, was to say good-bye.


We arrived in the bright sunshine to take Boo for a walk. Knowing what was ahead for us and him, we came prepared with Kleenex and Haagen-Daas Vanilla -- the first for us, the second for Buddha (although, knowing the boxer penchant for fluffy white items into which an occasional nose has been blown, it could have gone either way :-). He took off with us in tow, stopping briefly on exiting the clinic to cast a warning glare at a large English Setter male who looked somewhat taken aback at the attitude of this diminutive 59 pound threat. He then found the nearest bush into which to deliver at least two or three minutes' worth of "Buddha was here" liquid marker. I think he'd held it for about fourteen hours by that time. And he even lifted his leg (unnatural behavior for this neutered male raised by bitches <G>), until the sheer duration of the exercise apparently exhausted him and he was forced to lower himself into a more traditional squat.

The ensuing hour or so involved marking a little more, sitting in the sunshine on laps, craning his neck to see from whence the sounds of other dogs might emanate, intermittently slurping the icy confection, strolling the streets of Vienna, VA, nose occasionally cast downward "reading the news" and, best of all (to us), kissing on command. When we returned to the clinic, we asked him to perform a last perfect down stay, which he was pleased to do with the promise of yet more Haagen-Daas in exchange. Then we went in.

The doctor inquired if we were ready, if we'd like more time. No more time, please. Do this. She asked if he could sit. He could and did. She inserted the needle into the catheter as I took his face in my hands and pulled it to my cheek. He relaxed, stopped panting, and, his eyes looking over my shoulder somewhere, very gently (exactly, in fact, as he had lived), his body folded itself into our arms and died.

As I sit here, I have the scent of his warm ear in my nose, and the faint taste of vanilla ice cream on my lips, left over from his final kiss. In Buddha's death there's great peace -- both for him and for his moms. He must have met up with China by now. As Gail said right before he left, "She'll be there to take away all his toys."

Katherine Nevius
Minstrel Boxers minus one


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