December 28, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Buffy looking spiffy after a morning at the spa

On Wednesday, December 14, I took my beloved dog, Buffy, to the veterinarian for the last time. I knew the day was coming, and in theory I was prepared, but still, my heart was broken, and I could barely see, as I drove home alone. Buff was 19, and had been a member of our family since we adopted her from the Humane Society when she was three.

The Humane Society was on my daily route, and I stopped there once or twice a week to see the dogs. I was looking for a second dog to add to our family, and be a companion to our dog, Starr, so he wouldn't have to spend his days alone. I saw Buffy shortly after she was brought in, and it was love at first sight. She was small, cute and friendly, and I put my name on her card and started making arrangements for the rest of the family to come meet her, as per the HS rules for adoption. Of course everyone, including Starr, agreed she was adorable, and we set about becoming her third home in three years — her forever home. (Her first family gave her away when they moved. Her second family decided they had too many pets and dropped her off at the HS.)

Buffy preferred not to have her photo taken.

She walked into our home like she'd lived there all her life — no fear, no confusion, no hesitation. She was sweet, loving, confident and well-trained, and she gave our feisty Starr something to think about. Although her papers said she was a miniature poodle, she was so overgrown and matted I believed she was a mixed-breed of some sort. Also, because I'd never had a dog that needed more than baths and brushing, I didn't quite understand the concept of hair verses fur, and the need for haircuts every eight weeks. I learned fast. The first groomer I took her to told me she was so matted she might need to be stripped, or closely cropped. I vaguely agreed, but when I went to collect her, my adorable little dog had been turned into a giant hairless rat, and I was horrified. She was so hideous no one in the family wanted to walk her, but her daddy came through for her, and walked her until she looked normal again, and the rest of us could take over.

When we moved to Seattle, of course the now 17-year-old Buffy made the cross-country trip with us. She loved to ride in the car, though the length of the trip may have exceeded her expectations. She seemed to enjoy it, though, since every two hours or so we'd all get out, go for a walk and have a few snacks. She made the trip five times, and was a real travel-pro.

She wasn't fazed in the least by the move, settling in to her new home just as she had the last time, so many years ago. She made herself right at home, finding a comfy spot to nap. She took down the comforter, snuggled between the pillow and covers, and settled in. She wasn't too pleased when I ran for the camera after discovering her in the guest bed, but she didn't move from her spot — just opened her eyes slightly to give me a "look" before shutting them and continuing with her snooze.

Lest you think she was a passive dog, she was not. It's true she was loving and gentle, but she also was smart and a little sneaky, making it impossible for me to ever place hors d'oeuvres artfully on the coffee table. She was also an escape artist who could find her way out of any fenced space, and the lower 12 inches of the fence around our large yard was covered with chicken wire.

Sept. 2011, 19 years old.
When we bought a house and moved again this past fall into what would be her last home, she was just as calm and unperturbed as ever about the change. Sweet little Buffy, I still keep seeing her everywhere, and when I'm away from the house, I suddenly think I have to get home to check on her or take her outside. Then I remember. I miss her so much.

What? Are you taking my picture AGAIN???

Up until the end, Buffy always wanted to be in the room where the action was. If we had company, she was there. Although she, herself, wasn't so active anymore, she liked to watch. One person she was particularly interested in was Miss E, and she was always right by her side as Miss E played. I'll leave you with a video taken one year ago of Miss E taking Buffy for a walk — a favorite pastime for both of them.


  1. No! I'm so, so sorry, Andrea. It's always so hard (I have a whole in my heart, still, from my dear labrador Abby, who I lost years ago). How wonderful of you to give her the home and life she always wanted and needed. I hope that is some comfort to you.

  2. Oh, Andrea, I'm so incredibly sorry. I've been thinking about you because I noticed that you haven't been around and was hoping that it was just the holidays making you busy. It breaks my heart that you had to say goodbye to your sweetie. You were so lucky to have found each other. If only every dog could be loved this much.

    You'll be in my thoughts. xoxo

  3. I have been reading for a while and never left a comment. I have enjoyed your recipes. Your blog has motivated and inspired me to keep cooking healthy and VEGAN. It has been seven months. I just wanted to say I am so sorry for your loss. I have never been able to have a pet, due to severe allergies, but I love animals and I can completely understand that bond, the unconditional love. I don't know how so many people I know have had the strength to say goodbye to their beloved pets--their family. I'll be sending vibes of love and comfort your way. She was a beauty. I'm sure she is playing on the Rainbow Bridge. If you don't know the poem, google it along with "pets" and you will find beautiful words of comfort during this time. Hugs, Cyndy

  4. JL,
    Thank you JL. I know what you mean about still missing Abby. The bond is so tight, isn't it?

    Thank you so much. This was a very hard post to write but I couldn't make myself post anything else. I know you understand how much I miss her.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I do know that poem, but right now, reading your words is better.

  5. Dear Andrea, I really didn't want to read this post but I couldn't resist the photos of your beautiful Buffy, the video (!), and paying you both the proper respect- as I too once had a very sweet girl of my own. I hope it gets easier. xo

  6. I didn't want to read and run, so I thought I'd post this message. Reading this brought a tear to my eye because I have lost 5 of my animals this year, and each time is just as horrid as the one before. But all of my animals are from rescues and what gets me through the heartache is knowing that I gave those animals a second chance at life, and gave them the best life they deserved.

    She was such a beautiful girl and at least you can rest assure that she had the best possible life with you. My thoughts are with you and I hope it gets a little easier with time.

  7. I'm so sorry, Andrea. It's heartbreaking to lose a pet, no matter how long or short a time you have with them. The video is so sweet. You did what you could for her, and the love will live on.

  8. I am SO sorry for your loss! our animal friends are part of the family, and bring so much joy. big hugs to you.

  9. Abby,
    You didn't want to read it. I didn't want to write it. But we both did what we had to do. Thank you for your caring comment.

    I'm so sorry you lost five animal companions this year. But everything you said is true — our consolation is in knowing they were well-loved and cared for, and didn't spend the rest of their lives in a shelter. You must be a truly compassionate person to give so many needy animals a good home.

    Thank you Maud. I'm so glad I got to spend so many good years with her. But it's never enough.

    Thank you, Kris. They really are part of the family, and leave such a big hole when they leave us.

  10. Andrea, I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of Buffy. This was a beautiful post about her life. She was clearly something special. Companion animals have a way of finding their way into the deepest crevices of our hearts. They are so effortlessly with us when we are at our most human - when we are sad, when we are tired, when we just need a cuddle from a furry friend... That we are able to bear witness to the entirety or near-entirety of their lives is a deep blessing that comes with sadness as well. I'm sure she knew how very cherished she was. My thoughts are with you.

  11. Oh, Andrea, I'm so sorry. I knew you were worried about her a while back, and I wondered when you hadn't posted for a while. She was such a sweetie, with such a gentle demeanor. I can only imagine how much you miss her. She was lucky to have you in her life (and it looks like you felt lucky to have her, too). I do hope it gets easier over time, too, though I know how much they stay in our hearts even then. xo

  12. I'm so sorry Andrea. Buffy was such a cutie pie and I know your loss is intense. I'm sending healing vibes your way!

  13. What a wonderful tribute. Thank you for sharing little Buffy's forever home life. She had 16 wonderful years with you. My parents just lost their 14 year old lab/chow mix in October that they picked out from the pound as a pup. In the end, Bubba was with my Dad at the vet's office when the large cell cancer continued to spread and he had to be put down. This past Sunday (Christmas Day), a stray lab named Buddy, found his way to my folks' house... and I think Buddy may have a home for Christmas... and can help to heal the hole in the hearts of my parents. While Bubba can't be replaced by Buddy, your beloved Buffy will not be replaced....just a new bond formed.

  14. Wow, Andrea, what a surprise. I am so sorry for you. Your loving good-bye message for Buffy has made me emotional myself. I'm sure she was such a sweetie. I love how she let Miss E walk her, and you can tell that there was no pulling of the leash - so gentle. She was blessed to have you for such a long time, which is why she felt at home no matter where she was, as long as she had you. Please know that I feel for you, friend.

  15. I'm so sorry for your loss. Dear Buffy, rest in peace. She was blessed to have met people who are so compassionate as you are.

    I can really relate to the feelings of loss you must have, it's so hard to lose someone you love and in general there's less support for the loss of a companion animal than for a human loved one. It can be lonely. There is a good pet loss support group in the area if you need it. Let me know. Hang in there.

  16. Oh, Andrea, I am so so sorry for you and your family's loss. What a beautiful companion Buffy was. This is a moving tribute to a lovely member of the family. xo

  17. My heartfelt sympathies Andrea. I'm so sorry for your loss; no matter how much we're prepared it's always so hard. You've given her a lovely tribute in this post recounting your life gave her a wonderful life and I'm sure she knew she was loved and will be always. The video is a beautiful memory of her as a special part of your family and life.

    Take care,

    xo Rose

  18. Cadry,
    Thank you for your beautiful words, describing much better than I could, why our animal companions are so precious to us.

    Thanks. I know how devoted you are to the girls, and you can truly understand how bereft we're feeling since Buffy's passing.

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate your kind and healing thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing your parents' story. I'm so sorry they lost their beloved Bubba, but how wonderful for both Buddy and your parents that they found each other this Christmas.

  19. Blessedmama,
    Thanks for your caring thoughts. They really mean a lot to me. Buffy was the perfect dog to share a walk with a 2-1/2-year-old!

    Thanks so much for your words of comfort. I remember when you lost your beloved cat, not so long ago. It's hard when they've been such a big part of your life.

    Thank you GiGi. She was indeed an important member of the family and she is sorely missed.

    Thanks so much. She was a well-loved little dog who gave us as much or more than we gave her.

  20. I'm so sorry that you lost such a good friend, but it sounds like you were both very lucky to fall into each other's lives. The video of her walk is precious!

  21. Nineteen years is such a long, wonderful span of life for a dog (a sign of how well-cared for and loved she was!). Buffy was so lucky to have you in her life! I'm certain that she is holding onto happy memories just as you are.

  22. I have fond memories of Buffy. Of course you miss her like crazy. What a loss to your whole family. I think you can be justifiably proud of saving her life and giving her such a loving home - and she paid you back with that same love. Thinking of you!!!

  23. radioactive,
    Thanks! She was a really great dog. I'm so glad we have the video — I love seeing Buffy doing the thing she loved most — going for a walk. And seeing her with the spunky Miss E makes the clip even more special. :)

    Thanks. I have so many wonderful and weird memories of our 16 years together. She was quite a character in her younger days.

    Thanks. I think she paid us back double, and we miss her a lot.

  24. Oh Andrea, I am so sorry for your loss! When I read your post title I didn't want to read on...I knew what was coming. I don't think Buffy could have had a better family to love and care for her. No matter how prepared we think we are it's never easy. The love you gave each other will always be in your heart though. I agree with everyone else that this was a great tribute post to Buffy. The video was preious. My heart goes out to you and your family. xo

  25. Poor old girl. And what a nice tribute. I'm sure Buffy couldn't have had a more loving home. And I heart you on that drive home from the vet...

  26. Michelle,
    Thank you Michelle. Every comment has made me cry, but you can't imagine how much I appreciate each one.

    Yes, the drive to the vet with my sweet girl was bad, but the drive home — there are no words.

  27. I'm so sorry. I know exsactly how you feel, and get all teary eyed when reading this. I lost my cat "Garbo" in May, she was 18. I still miss her so very much as well.
    You are prepared and yet you're not at all. With your head you are, but with your heart, you'll never be! That's the thing, I think.

  28. Oh Andrea, I am so, so sorry for your loss!

  29. I came out of my hermit cave to send you some blog-hugs. I'm so sorry you lost your little Buffy, she seemed like such a sweet dog. A very lucky dog too, 16 years with her forever family is such a blessing for a shelter dog. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  30. Deborah,
    So sorry you had to say goodbye to Garbo. It's really hard when we loose our beloved animal family members. They give us so much love.

    Thank you Mihl. I appreciate your thoughts.

    I hope it's nice and warm in the cave. :) Thanks for coming out, if even for a moment. I appreciate and need all the hugs I can get. She was my sweet girl.

  31. So sorry to hear about Buffy. :-( But reading your post, I know she had a great life with her forever family. :-)

  32. Andrea, big hugs. That sounds like Buffy had an amazing life and was hugely lucky after she found you, but I felt so sad thinking of you driving home alone after such a painful moment. Buffy is beautiful. Thinking of you all. Hugs.

  33. Chow Vegan,
    Thank you. I think she had a good life but I sure miss her.

    Thank you. She was my faithful companion for so long it's hard to readjust to life without her constant presence.

  34. I knew I would cry at the first picture! Buffy was adorable and loving and was so lucky to have you. Love to you in this difficult time.


  35. Oh, no. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending so many good thoughts and positivity your way right now.

    What a lovely, bittersweet, and touching tribute to your pup.

  36. Dawn,
    Thanks so much. I think we were really lucky to have her.

    Thank you for your kind words. She was an unusually special girl and we loved her a lot.

  37. I am so deeply sorry to hear of Buffy's passing, Andrea. I send you lots of love and good thoughts. xo

  38. That is so sad Andrea. Big hugs from me. I had a wee black poodle growing up and he was the sweetest dog ever and my best friend. I was lucky that one day Graham was staying over. He let him out for a wee while in the morning, then brought him in and gave him a cuddle. He curled up and went to sleep and just never woke up. He was 17. We were very lucky.

  39. Gena,
    Thank you so much. I really appreciate the caring thoughts.

    That sounds like a very peaceful exit for your sweet pooch, but it's so hard when we loose them, no matter how it happens.

  40. Oh, Andrea, I'm so sorry for your loss. But what a beautiful tribute; I'm reading it with tears in my eyes. Buffy was a lucky girl to have you. The third time was definitely the charm for her!

  41. Christina,
    Thank you. We sure do miss her around here.

  42. Dearest Andrea and Ken,
    I've been absent too much from Blogland lately, and am very sorry that I missed this post but am glad you had emailed me about losing Buffy so I could offer what comfort I could at the time. I hope my tardy comment doesn't make a healing wound hurt more, but couldn't refrain from adding a note here.

    This post is such a sweet and poignant tribute to Buffy (and all the heartfelt comments are so touching too). I laughed aloud at the "giant hairless rat" story and the darling video of Miss E and Buffy going for a walk (if I were Buffy, that would have created some psychological sphincter issues for me the rest of my life! LOL!) And your photos are all wonderful. For someone who didn't like having her picture taken, she sure was photogenic, and that picture of her sitting up in the backseat on your drive to Seattle is especially precious!

    I'm so grateful to people like you and Ken who give wonderful furbabies (or hairbabies, as the case may be!) a fun, loving, caring forever home. Buffy hit the jackpot with you guys, and with her long, interesting life she enjoyed quantity along with the quality. Who can ask for more than that?

    I know how much it aches, and I ache with and for you. I'm so glad I got to meet Buffy, and hope your sorrow soon gives way to happy memories, and maybe one day to another critter in need of your love and generous care!

  43. Oh Andrea, this is such sad news. Coming back to visit your blog after a much needed "blog break" and broke into tears reading this. Such a sweet and lovely post and such a wonderfully long life little Buffy had. She obviously had a lot of love to live for!

  44. Laloofa,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm happy to say that although I still miss Buffy so much, I can read comments about her loss without sobbing — most of the time. She was a sweet dog.

    Thanks for visiting again and leaving your kind thoughts — much appreciated. I've been taking blog breaks, too, and am a little behind on my blog reading as well.

  45. I don't know how I missed the video- maybe because I can't bear the sadness of lost, furry, loved ones- but it is entirely precious. xo


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