It was two years ago last Thursday that we saw Buster, the old faithful doggie and my best friend, for the last time. That is why I’d like to – as a kind of an obituary – present his curriculum vitae here:
This Is How It All Started
It was in the summer of 1999, when I was visiting here with Mary, that Buster’s mother just happened to come by as a stray, (relatively) well fed by the way and not at all neglected [quite contrary to Sally a few years later], and of course, as always with stray animals, was made feel at home by Mary, who named her “Rusty Sue” because of her colour, a reddish brown. What both of us had absolutely missed at that time that she fairly well advanced in her pregnancy. I had just returned back home to Germany and Mary and I were chatting on ICQ when Rusty Sue had her litter somewhere in the deep grass on the west side of the property and then was carrying them to a safe spot, which was under the house as that has wooden foundations with a crawl space as usual hereabouts. At that time there was an opening to get into that crawl space. Anyway, I can still vividly remember how Mary, who was watching all of that movement, was counting the little ones being carried by, and even in our chat I could kind of see her face getting longer and longer with: 1, 2, … 7, 8, 9, 10! Correct: it was ten puppies this lady had given birth to! Maybe that, namely having given birth to that many puppies and having to care for them proved too much for Rusty Sue, and she simply died of exhaustion, or maybe a poisonous snake got her there in the narrow confines of the crawl space under the house. Whichever: she died there under the house very soon after having whelped.
But those little ones [I’m sorry I don’t have a better picture] made themselves known and came out of that space and they were barely old enough to be able to drink themselves from a bowl Mary put there. Amazingly she really managed to raise all ten of them. Eight of them she was later able to give away to acquaintances, friends and students of hers, and two she kept: Buster and his sister Ruby.
The First Years
Both Buster and Ruby were quite inseparable and quite some rovers: they must have roamed all over Karnes County and maybe the adjacent counties, too, and sometimes they stayed away on their forays for days on end. Ruby unfortunately at the age of three was run over here on the highway in front of our property and we buried her in the back yard. If Buster kind of realized that? That the highway is dangerous, I mean? I kind of assume so because he never again even went onto this highway let alone cross it after that incident. He did like to roam about after that time still, but always on the field behind our property. And he never went on longer forays. If it was just Ruby who had enticed him to those? And he had only been tagging along for company? I seem to believe so.
Whatever: he later became a real watchdog, fiercely defending his territory, be it against a car that wanted to deliver something to the house, e.g. the UPS guy, be it against javelinas, and even against birds flying low over the property. He made it quite clear by barking furiously that he considered it his territory. But never even once did he become aggressive against any human being nor did he ever bite. But we were always happy that he looked so fierce and made a show of it. We certainly believe that it was his doing that our hose was never broken into whereas houses in the vicinity have been burglarized. We certainly hope that this will continue with Sally around. Toi, toi, toi! We assume that potential burglars case their objectives and when they see not too small a dog running around [for the first eight years of his life Buster never was inside the house] they simply choose an easier objective. What have always I assumed about Buster’s fierceness is that it was caused more by fear than by a real aggressiveness and that he would have retreated as soon as one would have come too close. But who, just seeing him running around and barking furiously, would assume that.
Buster Becomes More Trustful
As I’ve just mentioned: for the first eight years of his life he never even once entered the house, and he never allowed me to pat him, but at the slightest touch he began to whimper and drew back, even at the times when I was here for three or more months at a time. Only later he became more and more trusting, let me pat him and followed me wherever I went on the property, looking up to me with his trusty eyes, and when I worked in the garden he simply lay down close by and watched me.
In short: he became my true best friend.
And at times when he was feeling unwell, he simply looked at me from below with his big eyes and I really got the idea that he just wanted to say, “I’m not feeling well at all, but I know you will help me.”
Buster gets Older
Later the he really liked to be inside. Maybe it was his age that made him do that, because in the hot summers of Texas it was easier for him, especially with his thick fur, to be inside where we have the air-conditioning running, or where it’s warmer in the winter. Well, actually with his thick fur [as far as we could determine he had quite a percentage of Chow in his bloodline] he was well equipped for winter. It was the heat of Texas summers that got to him, and that’s why we routinely had him shaved once or twice during summers.
With Sally …
… he was friendly from day one on, btw. There never were any problems. From the beginning it was clear who was the alpha dog. The two of them guarded the house and the property jointly. Sometimes we were afraid they might be run over when they, barking furiously, ran along with the UPS truck or other cars on our property and even crossed close in front of them, so that the drivers had to be careful not to hit them. But everything went well until …
Buster Is Gone
Until one day I was so stupid as to fire a gun at a raccoon while they were just next to me. When they heard the repeated shots they just panicked and flew away as fast as theior legs would carry them. It was only Sally who returned after a few hours, but Buster never returned.
As I said in the posting about his disappearance: I can only assume that he either ran into a horde of javelinas or that, on a very hot summer day and he with his thick fur [he hadn’t been shaved yet then] and at his age all that excitement and exertion became to much for him and he suffered from a heat stroke. Actually I think the javelinas are the more likely possibility as Sally, when she returned, had a small wound on her back thzat had the marks of a javelina’s tooth and as they had run away in the direction of a known lair of javelinas close by. Talking of javelinas: Buster had had an encounter with them before that nearly cost his life. At that time they had mauled him so badly [15 deep wound on his back and his flank] that it was touch-and-go and our vet barely managed to save him. We assume that they must have cornered him in a place where he could not escape, because normally he would fiercely bark at them, but always retreat to the safety of either the front or the back porch of the house where they would not follow him whenever they came too close.
What neither Buster nor Sally have ever learned, btw, is retrieving something. Whenever you threw a piece of wood or a ball away with them looking at it/you and expected them to dash off and fetch it, they just kept looking at you uncomprehendingly as if they wanted to say, “We’re no idiots. You throw that piece of wood away, you run and fetch it yourself!”
What Buster at some time, though, started to do – for which reasons we don’t know – was to walk down to the cattle guard, grab the newspaper and bring it to the house. Sometimes he hid it and seemed to be very pleased with himself when I had to search for it and sometimes couldn’t find it. But sometimes he left it at the front or back porch and his face looked as if he was proud of his accomplishment. And of course he always got his reward – a nice and chewy bone. We have never found out, though, what made him go and get the paper. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. And it was also not at a certain time but at quite variable ones, and definitely not when he saw the newspaper being delivered. It was just when the thought occurred to him for whatever reason.
Well, it is now more than two years that he disappeared and I still miss him and, beyond all reason, sometimes still hope he’ll be there, wagging his tail, when I drive up.
Um diesen Beitrag in Deutsch zu lesen, hier klicken.
For more postings about Buster, check “Alles über Buster” on my German-language blog.