When Spikey died, Buddy was despondent for months. They had been raised together from puppyhood. I rescued them from the Humane Society after their family had relinquished them there. Spikey was 13 years old at the time, Buddy 6, both of them black-and-white Shih-Tzus. Spikey became increasingly ill in his 16th year, didn’t want to get up in the morning and could no longer walk steadily, so I had to carry him outside. On the day that Spikey died, I took them both to Pioneer Park, a local residential park a few blocks away from home where we used to go every weekend for walks and playtime or just to sit in the sun. On that Saturday, I set my beach chair on a blanket I’d laid on the ground. Buddy laid down at my feet, and Spikey lay across my lap. We sat for a few hours under the shade of a tree until it was time to go to the vet and put Spikey to rest. The three of us went into the vet’s office, but only Buddy and I came out.
That night Buddy wandered around the house looking for his brother. I set out his food, but he didn’t eat; he just stood there staring at Spikey’s empty dish. At bedtime, he wandered around the house again, and in the middle of the night I woke up to the sound of his nails clip-clopping on the hardwood floor of the bedroom and across the tile in the other rooms and back. When I woke up in the morning, he was asleep in Spikey’s bed.
The following weekend I took Buddy to the park. I put him in his car seat in the back, and he spent the entire drive looking at Spikey’s empty seat. As we arrived at the park, he immediately began to whine and after getting out he ran onto the grass, tail wagging, and there he stood just looking around as several minutes passed. His tail started to droop until he saw a dog in the distance, then began wagging again as he ran toward the dog, but he stopped when he saw that it wasn’t Spikey. This time his tail drooped and didn’t rise again.
Buddy continued his nightly search around the house for weeks, only gradually accepting that there were just the two of us. He became clingier with me, following me everywhere, always at my feet, next to me on the sofa, and sleeping on my bed, taking it over the way dogs do. We became literal buddies over the next four years. But time takes its toll on us all and this past year as he approached 14, Buddy started to slow down too. He still enjoyed going out for short walks and loved sitting on the sofa each night eating his treats. And he especially loved sleeping on my bed, curling up at my side, his tiny 10 lb. body sprawling out and pushing me closer and closer to the edge so that by morning, I was sleeping in about a 12-inch space. But I didn’t have the heart to push him away.
On New Year’s Eve, Buddy didn’t want to get up. He wouldn’t stand, and he barely moved, so I drove him to the Emergency Animal Hospital. He stayed there for 4 days, mostly in an oxygen chamber with a feeding tube down his nostril. The two of us went in, but only I came out. After I went to the crematorium to pick up Buddy’s ashes in a small box with his name engraved and his paw print, I carried it to Pioneer Park, where I sat for a couple of hours looking around as the minutes passed. Occasionally I’d see a small dog in the distance and I’d perk up to look, but of course it wasn’t him. He was laying in my lap, in a little box, with his name on it, and a paw print. If I had a tail, it would have drooped and not risen again.