During my one year stay in north Alabama, I had little in the way of finding things with which to be happy. I had a wife who whined from day light to dark. I was about 400 miles from home and I was surrounded by in-laws. I had been warned by family and friends about moving so close to my in-laws. And, like a fool, I ignored them. It was a hellacious one year in my life I wish not to live over again. I loved north Alabama. I got along with everyone there except one, my wife.
We had a home that was in a new subdivision. It was located in an oval shaped subdivision with a newly laid asphalt road. People would walk around it for exercise most of the day. I would get up early, usually about 6:30AM and walk around the approximately one mile oval before everyone else got started. There was a big yellow lab that would walk with everyone. That dog had to be in the best health of anyone of that subdivision. I mean he would walk with everyone. But, he would look for me because he seemed to realize I was an early bird. “Buddy”, as we later found out was his name, would be at the end of the driveway, where he reside, waiting for me. Buddy was so kind, so gentle and all he would want for accompanying you was a pat on the head. I always gave him more. I would have doggie biscuits for him which he was absolutely insane about.
I would turn one corner on the oval and throw Buddy a doggie biscuit and he would come up to me and nudge me on the leg as I walked. He seemed to know, after a period of time, that once a turn was made, he would get a treat. So, Buddy would race ahead to get to the next turn and wait for me. Of course, I would always give Buddy a treat. He was just a big friendly dog. Buddy was a wonderful dog. He was the kind of dog you would trust to protect you entire family.
While we would walk on these early mornings, Buddy would chase any squirrel that would dare to cross our path. I swear, I saw him almost climb a tree going after a squirrel that dallied a bit too long in the street before us. I also saw Buddy chase a rabbit into a drainage pipe. Buddy got stuck trying to get to that rabbit. I had to pull him out of the drainage pipe with him still barking after the stupid rabbit. Little did I know that a rabbit would be his ultimate demise.
For about two weeks, I did not see Buddy. I was greatly concerned about him. I wanted to go up to the house where I knew he lived and inquire about him. My wife did go ask about him. She found out he had chased another rabbit one morning and did not clear the street before a man in his pickup ran over him. The only comfort I had from hearing this is the driver said that Buddy was killed instantly. I cried about it. I had lost the only friend I had for over 400 miles. The only “Buddy” I could talk to about my troubles and woes. I realized now I was completely alone.
To this day, I still think about Buddy. He brought a measure of comfort into my life when I needed it most. He seemed to realize I needed a friend. And he was all that and more.
I don’t know if it’s true “All Dogs Go to Heaven”. I pray to God it’s true. If ever an animal deserved Heaven, it’s man’s best friend. But, I pray when it’s my time, I hope I see old Buddy and I plan on thanking him for making my life a bit more bearable when I felt I didn’t have a friend in the world. I want to thank him for being there when I needed someone. I want to thank him for just being a “Buddy”.