Fever River Buck
Buck is pictured above with his mom Lorna. This handsome boy took his retirement very seriously, and often taught new retiree’s just how to relax. Buck was one of GEM’s top “ambassadog’s” and greeted potential adopters with enthusiasm.
Fever River Buck
September 1, 1992 – March 19, 2005
It’s red and worn. I suspect it was never a particularly expensive item, but I liked it. It is cotton webbing two inches wide, and it’s still sitting on the entertainment center where my husband put it last Saturday in the wee hours of the morning. It’s the martingale collar Buck was wearing when he arrived in our house, and the same one he was wearing when he left our earthly plane. I remember lifting his lolling head to take off the collar. I don’t know when I’ll be able to move it to where it belongs.
Oh, Buck had fancy collars, too. He had two beautiful ones from Karen’s Kollars, a magnificent dress-up collar from Mrs. Bones and a navy blue and floral collar Chuck bid on at a long ago picnic auction.
Buck didn’t really have toys. We got him when he was 7 years old, and he just never caught on to the joys of toys. Well, except on occasion when we’d come home and he grab a toy or one of Chuck’s slippers (that often reside in the living room) and cavort over to a pillow to chew on “his” toy a little. And I do mean a little! He quickly lost interest in favor of greeting us. Buck was an especially people-loving dog.
Because we had two female dogs, we had been fostering only males. Considering Buck was our fourth foster dog, fostering males didn’t last long. With a male dog in the house now, we figured we might be better off fostering females. As we discovered, Buck didn’t care; he was tolerant to an extreme. The only time he ever did anything physically aggressive with another dog was with a puppy who didn’t think it was necessary to go around Buck lying on his pillow in her races through the house. Buck put up with a lot, but finally lost his patience when the puppy ran across him up near his face. In the blink of an eye, he growled, picked up the puppy in his mouth, shook her and dropped her back on the floor. He did exactly what a well-mannered but frustrated adult dog does with a puppy who needs to learn some manners. The puppy was unhurt, and remembered Buck’s lesson… For a while. Buck never repeated the etiquette lesson, even though the puppy went back to running over his body, though not too far up.
Buck went with me to many meet & greets in the early years, before the lower back problems began to bother him. He’d get excited when I’d get his leash out of the drawer, and he loved mingling with all the people and getting lots of attention. I also took him on home visits, where I always had to explain this dog wasn’t an average greyhound, but an extra-large. Buck made many friends through his volunteering for GEM.
We have a huge back yard, and I will treasure memories of Buck running full-out in a big figure eight and how breathtakingly beautiful he was. I also remember his gangly, I’m-still-a-puppy-at-heart run. That’s the run that tugs most at my heart. And let’s not forget the digging! A few years ago he, with some help from our other dogs, dug a hole as big as a bathtub and just about the same shape. More recently, he dug mostly to create a nice depression for himself under a towering blue spruce, his spot for hot summer days when he wasn’t lying in the sun. If we had chosen to bury him, that would have been his place.
I didn’t see Buck age, and was surprised when he began to go gray around his eyes at nine years of age. I just didn’t think of him as old. And he didn’t act old. These past couple years, though, made me acutely aware of Buck’s mortality. He was diagnosed with early stage kidney disease and changed to kidney diet kibble. Hmmph. He wasn’t fond of that! I tried all sorts of special things on that food to entice him to eat it, and many worked – one time. Then I’d have to figure out a new enticement for the next meal. Several weeks ago, when his blood tests showed he was in end stage renal failure, I gave up trying to get him to eat the kidney diet. I mixed in regular food and eventually upped the treat index to include cooked hamburger, steak, salmon, giant muffins and even apple pie. I discovered his lack of appetite in the morning could be overcome with haute cuisine.
Meanwhile, Buck’s back problems (either degenerative disk disease or, more likely, lumbosacral stenosis) got progressively worse. We treated him with Rimadyl for quite a while, but eventually switched him to a corticosteroid plus a barbiturate painkiller. Naturally, the medicines we gave him sped up his kidney failure. But in the end it wasn’t the kidney failure that precipitated his death, it was his wobbly legs. Over the past few months, he lost virtually all muscle tone in his back legs, and his beautiful, strong legs became weak and unreliable. Finally, late on Friday, March 18th, when he couldn’t get up on his own or even remain standing if we helped him up, we knew it was time to let him go. He wasn’t in any additional pain (he was very pleased to eat some cooked hamburger, probably half a pound!); I think he was confused and only slightly nervous about his inability to stand. I’ll never forget how cute Buck looked when Chuck picked him up, and Buck’s surprised face was looking back at me over Chuck’s shoulder.
My sweet Buck relieved me of having to choose the day and time of his demise, which had been causing me unbearable grief. Or perhaps it was Fate. We knew even if Buck managed to get up and stay up, it would be only a matter of days before he couldn’t get up again, and it would be permanent. And meanwhile, the kidney failure was continuing to ravage his body. We couldn’t, in good faith, ask Buck to remain with us any longer just to save us sadness. He was euthanized peacefully at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 19th.
I thank my husband, Chuck, for giving me Buck. I also thank Barbara Mace for recommending Dr. Maureen Birley, who took good care of Buck, and Barbara again for taking good care of both Buck and me; Merrie West, who cared for Buck, gave me good advice and listened to me worry and cry over Buck; Inger Jorgensen for drawing blood for Buck’s final tests so he wouldn’t have to go to that nasty vet place with the slick floors; and, of course, Missie Harhold for living through it all with me. And I thank everyone who sent cards and e-mails after Buck died, whether they’d ever met him or not.
Most of all, I thank Buck, who was a beloved companion, a faithful friend, a silly goof sometimes, more patient than any person I know, and who shared his beauty and his easy-going nature with my husband and me for over five years. May you rest in peace, my sweet dog, and know I’ll love you for all time.