I'm not sure what really possessed mom and dad to take on a puppy when there were already 7 of us running around a duplex, (and the youngest only 2 and a half). I know he was free, and offered by friends of ours, but really, it was a little crazy. His mother was a pure bred, but his litter was a surprise, so no telling what else he had in him. I don't really remember picking him out from the litter (maybe he was all that was left), but I'm pretty sure he was the runt of the litter, and he had the adorable black-and-white coloring that earned him his name (he looked a little like a "tuxedo cat", plus then when he made a mess, we could always say "(the) Butler did it..." That's the Lambson family sense of humor.
I also don't remember a lot of his puppyhood. I imagine he drove Frisky-the-cat a little nuts. And I know his penchant for taking on bigger dogs got him in serious trouble at least once with a neighborhood dog (I think he required stitches...)
I also know he was pretty much a one-family dog nearly from the get-go and that he especially did not get along with little kids. This led to his near banishment by Dad and my promise to take him as soon as I got to a place where I could have dogs. Little did any of us know
I also remember that when I would come home from college,
I remember making fun of his tongue, calling him a "snake" because he was nearly constantly sticking it out to lick his nose or something. He was a big time licker, though not necessarily of people. More like carpet, pillows, blankets, sleeves, pant legs, whatever he was lying on. Also, his own fur/skin, which could (and usually did) cause problems in the form of hotspots, till I started keeping him cut pretty short so I could keep an eye on his skin more easily and nip problems in the bud.
I remember that mom tried to save money by grooming him herself several times, and I remember he put up with it pretty well in general, but his hair just NEVER SEEMED TO END. It was way to big a job for one person (or at least for this one person) so when he came live with me, he got professionally groomed about every other month - I had them go pretty short so it would still be do-able in 8 weeks. He had a couple of really good groomers, even as he got older, blind-er and grumpier. I swear he always strutted when he came back from the groomer and *knew* he looked good (probably felt better, too). He kept the bandana/bowtie on for a good while, too.
I remember my first apartment in Valpo was on a second floor, so that was kind of a pain. I also remember that we had a pond there, which means we had
Valpo was also where we started to establish a lot of those routines that I've had to unravel over the past couple of weeks. Things like "Sunday dinner" (when he got canned/pouch food instead of the regular dry). And "afternoon snack" (a treat when I got home from work). And of course, "potty time". He didn't have his own bed (cause he shared mine) and he didn't have to share space with a cat yet. He did have to deal with "strangers" coming over for FHE and all three of them, I think, got bitten (but after I had warned them to leave him alone). He would sometimes "help" me in my "garden" (and by that, I mean, lay in the shade), mostly because he'd bark if I didn't have him where he could see me. Or maybe that was Cville... Oh well, that leads me to the next (and longest) stage of our time together.
We moved to Crawfordsville in October, 2005. I remember telling the helpers unloading the truck to ignore the barking box, but in general I don't remember him being a real big barker (except with the aforementioned gardening). He had a couple of weeks to settle in and then, Halloween evening, I came home to a little black kitten on my doorstep, looking at me like "where have you been and what took you so long..." I brought her in so that no one could hurt her (a black cat on Halloween has to be careful, don't you know) and after trying to find who may have lost her, finally resigned myself and let her stay. She liked to swat at
Gradually, he got slower and slower. I started keeping a stiff cushion under my bed that I could pull out as a booster step for him to use to jump on the bed. My parents brought me a big ol' chair, though, and that he could get up on just fine - the "couch", too - so those became some of his favorite "beds". I'm pretty sure I didn't ever get a picture of
Our walks were generally shorter - but maybe that was just me being more lazy. One advantage of his growing more blind and deaf is that he didn't tend to notice other dogs/geese/critters and so didn't challenge them (though not always - on one of our longer ones, he noticed I had stopped to chat with a horse and decided he needed to tell it who was the boss - good grief!).
Valentine's Day 2007 brought a blizzard to Crawfordsville (an honest to goodness blizzard - I felt a little like Little House on the Prairie, only thankful I didn't have to feed/milk any cows). NWS archive says Lafayette got
Also, over time,
Then there was the morning he didn't get off of the bed before his bladder let go, and that was the *last* morning he was in bed with me.
The first time that the question of "time to let him go" really came up was in March, 2009, when he experienced a more catastrophic loss of vision than he'd been experiencing with his cataracts. But the vet helped me when she said that “[I'd] know when it was time”, and I knew it wasn't time yet.
When I was looking for an apartment in Lafayette, Butler's needs were a significant consideration and one of the big appeals of the apartment I'm in now was how much tiled floor (versus carpet) was available and the easy setup to keep him off the carpet.
He had a little trouble adjusting to the new apartment (he'd been in Cville for a little over 3.5 years, after all) - some random barking at nothing, etc... but ultimately he settled in. A few accessories were added - a baby gate, a cushiony bed, diapers...
Over the past year or so, he'd been gradually losing weight (I don't think he liked his specialty kidney food much - kind of blah, I'd guess), so I went against my own policy of "no people food" to try to entice his appetite and build him up a bit (it only worked slightly) and lo and behold, the little guy had a sweet tooth (donuts, cupcakes, pie crust crispies... who knew!) and he loved raw carrots. Seriously! I could hardly believe it!
At times over the last several months, I did acknowledge that it was a little ridiculous - all the medications, the diapers, the cleanup when the diaper was off or it failed, the special food(s), the carrying him up and down the stairs...
But until that last few days, there was no question that he was still interested in life and hanging in there. He didn't eat enough to keep his weight up, but he was definitely interested in his treats. He would sometimes (when I allowed the time) just stand and sniff the air by the pond. Other times he investigated the ground pretty thoroughly (and seemed to head for the pond a few times). He still liked to snuggle on the big chair (I had to remember to bring him to it, though - something I wish I'd done a bit more of). And he still snapped at Soot when she took it in her head to tease him (it didn't happen often, but once in a great while). It just wasn't time yet.
And then it was.
The beginning of June saw me on a road trip with Mom & Dad, Elise, Beckie and Kirsti to see Sarah, and Butler and Soot in the care of Brittany, the pet-sitter who's watched over them whenever I've gone out of town since being in Lafayette.
I got back to
Friday, I think he only ate the "pill pocket" that his Benedryl was in - not even the applesauce or a sweet (like his "cookies" or a cupcake). When I got home (early) from a visiting teaching attempt and took him outside, he started dry heaving. That was alarming. He dry heaved several times, and my plans to work on something productive while I watched TV online went out the window as I snuggled him on my lap instead. He dry heaved a few more times, and when he finally took a drink, he threw that up, too. Poor guy.
Saturday morning, I had an awful feeling in my gut and was literally scared to go out into the hall because I thought I might find
I couldn't get him interested in even the "no fail" treats, and I tried to smear a food supplement I'd just gotten at Pet Smart on his nose and he didn't even muster the interest/irritation to lick it off. Even though he was alive, I couldn't shake that feeling in my gut. I took some pictures of him and even a short video (yay for digital cameras), sort of to have evidence (for myself?) that he was still alive (especially the video, where I captured him moving his head from one side to another - that's all he was doing, but it was voluntary movement – it was something).
Originally, I thought I'd call his regular vet at 9 (that's when I thought they opened on Sat) to see if I could get him in or if I should take him to the Animal Emergency Clinic in
They were really nice. The Dr. ran a blood test while I waited - what I remember is that his liver enzymes and white blood cell count were both crazy. I left him there to get IV fluids and to be observed and headed to see a coupla First Steps kids that I'd scheduled as make up for missing them while on vacation. After the First Steps kids, I stopped in my apt office to check on renewing my lease, including the pet addendum. While I was talking to Robin, I got a call from the Emergency Clinic (it was an unknown number, and I was with Robin, so I sent it to voicemail).
When I checked the VM as I walked out to the car, it was the Dr asking me to call back. When I left
I manage to maintain my composure in public, even as I tell
Since then, this week has been a week of small and less-small adjustments (from not saving baggies for picking up Butler doo, to taking the gate to Goodwill, to staying out till 10 pm on a Wed without a quick dash home to check on my little dog). I emailed several friends to let them know what had happened, and heard back from a few of them. I picked up
He would have been 17 next month - a long time for any dog. We would have been "together" in IN for 7 years in September. It feels weird to look back as recently as 3 weeks ago to buying those cupcakes and getting food ready for while I would be gone and having no inkling that this was coming. It's the way such things always are, but it doesn't make it less weird when you're in the middle of it.
So anyway, that's how it happened.
And now he's gone. I wish I'd snuggled with him more. I wish I'd taken more pictures. I wish I'd been more patient sometimes. I wish I'd caught on to the diaper idea sooner. I wish the weather wasn't so extreme (the cold and heat both seemed to get to him).
I'm thankful I had almost 17 years with him (almost 7 with him as "my" dog). I'm thankful my friends put up with him. I'm thankful I snuggled with him that last night. I'm thankful that his leftovers will benefit some other dog/owner (I donated his meds to the vet and his other supplies - shampoo, diapers, etc. - to a "Home for Friendless Animals"). I'm thankful for the sympathy and support I've gotten from friends and family as I let him go. I'm thankful that I didn't have to see his seizures. I'm thankful that I didn't have to find his dead body on my floor. I'm thankful that I got some pictures on that last morning (and that Emily got some good pictures during that visit in 2007). And I'm thankful that he's no longer in pain (or blind, or deaf, or confused, or incontinent, or underweight...). I'm thankful for my crazy cat.
But I miss my little black snuggle buddy.