Buster’s Last Day


Today is the anniversary of my old dog Buster’s death. It’s been 15 years but I will never forget. It was a clear and cold day like today only the east wind had been blasting Portland for days.

He started to get sick on New Year’s day. I woke to find a pile of vomit in the living room. During the night he had eaten a whole pound of raisins that I had left on the kitchen counter. He was 14 years old but he never gave up counter surfing.

He kept throwing up off and on that day so I decided to take him to Dove Lewis. They were able to stabilize him and on the next day I took him to my regular vet. By that time he was completely out of it but we gave him another day. In the morning, they told me that he had not improved and that his time had come.

I took off work and sat with him one last time in the back room of the vet’s office. He was in a coma and did not wake up when I gave him his last kisses and when I cried into his chest and stroked his ears.

I took him home with me and planned to bury him in the back yard by the lilac bush. But I couldn’t do it right away and waited until the next day. My friend Lorraine came over and helped me dig a hole in the back yard. It was dark by that time and the wind was howling and the big maple in the back creaked as dug into the frozen ground. It took a while to cut through the hard dirt and my other dogs Daphne and Spot rambled around the yard. Spotty would jump in the hole to see how deep it was. He was always good for some comic relief.

The stars twinkled sharply in sky above us.

I wrapped him in the quilt that I had made for the both of us. I couldn’t bear to think of him being cold.

We said a prayer for him and burnt sage so his spirit would find its way to heaven.

That night I dreamed of you in the garden. I had my arms around you to keep you warm. I still feel you there. Especially when the wind blows and the stars sparkle. And in the spring when the lilac blooms and in summer when the maple leaves shade your grave.

Now you have several cats and parakeets keeping you company. Since then, all my dogs come home in canisters. I can’t bear the thought of digging a grave in the cold of winter or any other time of the year.

I can’t eat raisins since that time. The vet didn’t think it was the raisins that made him sick but I knew better. I knew at the time it was the raisins that had done him in.