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Let me tell you about Buzz

urge to herd

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In November of 1999 I had no intention at all of getting another dog. We didn’t need one, we couldn’t afford one, we weren’t even thinking about one. I did troll a rescue site or two from time to time, and was good friends with a woman from the rescue that we got Shoshone from, but another dog? Not even on my horizon.


Then, I heard about a border collie at the county shelter due to be put down the next day. I couldn’t get my mind off this dog. The morning after I heard about him, I ran into a friend who worked at an animal shelter. I asked if she had any advice.


As it turned out, the managers from the 6 or 7 shelters in Sonoma County got together once a month, and they rotated which facility they met at. The meeting was that day and it was at the county shelter. My friend Laurel would ask her manager to check about this dog. My only caveat was that I couldn’t handle an aggressive dog.


Laurel called me at around 9:30 am and told me the report from her boss was that the dog was a favorite in just the 3 days he’d been there. He was an owner turn in, was friendly to all the staff and other dogs, no history of aggression.


I talked with Terry: There’s a border collie at the county shelter and I thought we could take him.


Terry: What on earth do you want another dog for? Isn’t two enough?


Me: We could foster him and find him a good home. (famous last words.) And besides, he’s going to be put down this afternoon.


Terry: Well, don’t let them kill him. Go get him!


Me: !!!!!


Laurel’s boss brought the dog, who was named Bud, back to her shelter. Laurel bathed him, had him vetted, vaccinated him, heart worm checked him, and let him hang out in the office with her and the office cats. She said he was interested in the cats, but called off quickly.


She delivered him to our doorstep, loaning us a crate as well. He was a rangy, mostly black, very bright eyed and very interested in everything, tall young border collie. The second Toy Story movie was just about to premiere, and I realized that this dog’s name had to be Buzz.


Samantha and Shoshone were not impressed at all to have a brash young boy dog intrude into their peaceful home. They snarled, he backed down just a little. Within 48 hours, though, he had persuaded Shoshone to wrestle with him, and a day or so after that, he and Samantha were thrashing around and doing body slams.


Our home, which had been very sedate and quiet for the most part, became filled with playing dogs. Samantha was shy in new situations, and Shoshone was out and out afraid of just about anything. Buzz changed all that. Anything that Buzz would do, Sam and Shonie would trot right along with him. Go up to a stranger with a scary hat? No problem. Run around the park and let a teen ager throw the ball for them? Why ever not? Go up to a GROUP of strangers in a store and mooch for cookies? Of course.


He changed us all for the better. I posted a couple months ago about my husband and Buzz. Terry, with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from serving in Vietnam, has had a tremendously difficult time attaching emotionally to people. He was kind to all our critters, would feed them or let them out if needed, but not much more than that.


Buzz took him by storm, totally unexpectedly. Terry worked swing shifts and would get home after midnight. Buzz would fuss and whine with excitement to get out of the bedroom, even levitating himself over the baby gate in the door more than once, in order to hang out with Terry for a little while.


When we got home from the park in the morning, Buzz would trot over to the coat stand, sniff Terry’s coat that was hanging there, and wag his tail. Terry and Buzz went on outings to the post office and the grocery store every afternoon for the last 5 and a half years, and it was a highlight of the day for them both.


With Buzz at his side, Terry started to have more interactions with people. Mr. Buzz was Mr. Charm, and Terry got a lot of remarks about how friendly our brown eyed handsome dog was, and Terry ate it up.


And, since Terry now smells as strongly of dog and dog treats as I do, other people’s dogs approach him. He has had many pleasant, brief conversations with total strangers, whom he would never even have noticed pre Buzz. He now frequently tells me about a dog he saw, or some stranger he talked with about dogs.


Every place that I took them to be kenneled, I got the same information back. Sam would find a place to sort of hide out, Shonie would roam around but not interact, (unless you happened to be an intact male used for stud by Guide Dogs for the Blind, then she wouldn’t leave your side) and Buzz played from sunup to sundown.


Buzz brought a sense of excitement to each day. Something wonderful, something fun, something worth wagging your tail about was bound to happen, and then happen again. And again. Life was all about sniffing out the good stuff, being glad to see everyone you met, and eager to keep going.


The little things – Buzz was one of those dogs who always smelled good. I hadn’t bathed him in at least 3 years, and when I kissed him good bye, his head still smelled good and healthy.


He loved dried fruit and most fresh vegetables, particularly cucumber and melon. I gave him a dried tart cherry once, thinking for sure he’d spit it out. He wanted more. A couple days after that, I took a small handful of the cherries out onto the deck with me. Terry let him out just a couple minutes later. Buzz trots towards me a couple steps, and then he smells the cherries in my hand. His eyes get huge, he drops to the ground and starts to grovel his way to me, begging, pleading, moaning for another taste of wonderful yummy cherries.


And the cats. Angel adored Buzz, almost from the very first. She’d rub against him, head butt him, and try to curl up with him. He liked her, but was a bit nervous when she got really close to him, and would move away. If he was asleep, Angel would be able to spoon against his back for a little while. He’d play with her, though; take her leg in his mouth, even her head from time to time. He never once bit down, never hurt her at all. If he pushed his luck with Angel, she’d lift one little paw and he’d back away quickly.


Duke was a different story. Duke thought that two dogs were plenty, and that Buzz was a fiend sent to torment him. Buzz was determined to be friends with Duke, but it never worked. Some things just aren’t meant to be.


What Buzz did for me isn’t easy to pin down. He got me out and about, made me some great friends and showed me how easy it is to do your best all the time. Buzz made it necessary for me to smile several times a day, even when I was down in the abyss of depression.


We have probably thousands of wonderful memories of the Buzzmeister. One of his jobs was to wake Terry up in the morning. He was very, very good at this particular task, and if I took too long after breakfast with other mundane things, he’d whine at the bedroom door.


I’d let him in, he’d rush over to Terry’s side of the bed and insert his snout under the covers, searching for some warm bare skin with his cold nose. Terry would shriek like a little girl, while I stood in the doorway, trying not to laugh, and making weak attempts to stop him: No, Buzz, don’t, lay down, I’d say. Terry would threaten him: You’re going to be out on the streets, you needle nosed weasel, I’m going to beat you if you don’t stop; all the while scratching his head and tugging his ears.


The comfort I take, and what I remind Terry of, is that loosing Buzz is so painful because he brought so much into our lives. Day by day, we will remember and treasure what he gave us.


We brought him home mid November, 1999. He left us October 31, 2008. It wasn’t long enough.


Ruth and Terry

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No, it wasn't long enough at all.


Thanks for sharing this lovely tribute--it really reminds me of how important it is to cherish the time we have with them. My pack and I hope you and Terry and the rest of your pack continue to find solace in knowing that it hurts so much because Buzz was such a precious gift.

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That tribute to Buzz and to your life together moved me to tears, too, Ruth. (I actually had to go find a new box of Kleenex before I could post this.) I am so grateful that you found each other and could make such a difference in each others' lives. I do hope that, as time passes, you and Terry are able to find comfort in your memories of this special boy.

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Wow, what a lucky guy Buzz was -- and you guys for allowing him to come into your lives. Ruth, that was such a loving and moving tribute. It's amazing how the perfect dog finds its place sometimes and changes everything about our lives. Our own lives can be so malleable -- and if we let dogs (and cats, I'm sure) into them, everything seems to fall into place in just the right way. That's why its so difficult when they leave; we have to try to figure out what the new normal is. And you will, with the memory of Buzz and the way he's shaped you for the better.

All my best to you,


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It is never long enough, and the time you had together was a blessing for all of you (except maybe Duke who needs to lighten up a bit {:^)).


Godspeed, Buzz! And save some fruits and veggies for the other pets over there who love them like you do.

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Buzz--"To infinity, and beyond!" Godspeed!


Ruth and Terry--He was appropriately named. He will live on forever, in your hearts and your many happy memories of him. He was obviously a very special doG and was sent to you at just the right time for a reason. May time ease the pain you're feeling right now. Your loss affects all of us on this board. Know that we care.


With loving thoughts,


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Tears here too. What a beautiful and funny tribute, Ruth, to a very special dog who made such a big difference for your Terry in particular. He was certainly meant to be your dog, and you were meant to be his people. Thanks you for sharing him with us.

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It is so apparent from this tribute what a special boy Buzz was. I feel for you both so much. It's very moving, very beautiful what he gave to you, but just as much what you gave to him. Thank you immensely for sharing that with us.

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What a great tribute to a great dog. All of our dogs are special in their own way, but once in a while, one will come along that has a mission. It seems that Buzz had a mission. He opened up things to not only you and your DH, but to your other dogs too. And I am sure, every one who met him, left just a bit happier. He taught y'all a lot. RIP Buzz. Ya did good.

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Im so sorry Ruth, for you and Terry. Buzz has touched all of us with his strength, courage. I snagged this from some ones sig line awhile back because I thought it so true, and so clear. RIP Buzzman


"There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who chose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given."

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Ruth, what a beautiful tribute to an amazing dog. I found this a couple of days ago. Somehow, this sounds a lot like Buzz.


He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)


When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself.


He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.


His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me... whenever... wherever - in case I need him. And I expect I will - as I always have. He is just my dog." - Gene Hill

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