A lot has happened in a week. Of course, Christmas came and went with all of the excitement that surrounds this most special day of the year, but the most memorable event of the week occurred this morning. I'll try to recount the day's events as accurately as my limited memory will allow.
I woke up early. I think it must have been around 5, as Tom got up to work in Jasper, Georgia today with Drew. Marley stirred a little in the bathroom, but for the most part, remained calm and went back to sleep. Sometime around 6, Buffet came over to my side of the bed and nudged me. I knew she needed to go out, so I got up and figured I should take Marley out too. As soon I stepped foot in the hall, Buffet began to throw up. She retched all the down the hall. I barely got the kitchen door open before she started getting sick again. I knew she couldn't help it, but I was not looking forward to getting it cleaned up. I left both dogs outside and got an old towel to soak up the mess. Then I grabbed the mop and some floor cleaner and got it clean. Sweet Buffet, she tried her best to keep it on the wood floor.
Once the mess was clean, I put Marley back in her kennel, and let Buffet in to sleep by the kitchen door. I remember being struck by how incredibly thin she had gotten in just two weeks. I tried to grab a few more minutes of sleep before starting the day. At some point, Buffet went into Addie's room and climbed up on her bed with Addie and Morgan still in it! Buffet was drolling quite a bit. The kids got up early about 8 (Addie, Sam, and Morgan) and were watching TV. They came back to bathroom to let me know that Buffet just had diarrea on the floor. YUCK! I grabbed another old towel and prepared to tackle the next mess of the day. I noticed this mess was black and very sticky. It was hard to get out of the carpet. Poor Buffet! I had made plans to meet Jane Manning for breakfast at Cracker Barrell at 10. After my shower, I checked on Buffet and she just lifted her head and blinked at me. I could tell she was in very bad shape. I woke Chelcie to tell her that Buffet was not doing well, so she'd know to call me if things got bad again while I was out with Jane.
When I checked on Buffet again, I just didn't have the heart to leave her. Her legs were splayed in an obviously uncomfortable position on the mat by the door. I went into Addie's room to get an old blanket for her to lie on when I noticed that she seemed to be struggling to breathe. I talked to her and tried to let her know that I was there with her. Then I broke. I knew I could not stand to see her suffer any longer. I called my dad to ask if he'd go with me to have her put down. While I was on the phone with him, I watched Buffet look up at me, then take her last breath. It surprised me to know that she was gone so quickly and seemingly, easily. I tried to close her eyes and petted her head to be sure she was gone.
Mom got there first. She helped me pull Buffet onto the back porch and clean the mess from where she died. Dad came to help too. We decided it would be best to use a plastic Rubbermaid tub as her coffin. As Mom and I lifted her into the tub, I couldn't believe that she was already heavy, cold, and stiff. Memories of a healthy Buffet flooded my mind. Jumping in leaf piles with kids, stealing Katie Cutcliffe's shoe in the yard, playing with her at Lakeshore, walking around Cades Cove and having to "improvise" a leash by using Mom's Brighton belt whenever the rangers came by. I remembered teaching her to jump over Chelcie and Drew by making them get down on their hands and knees. The "Bang!" trick was awesome, and was her specialty- holding a piece of cheese on her nose until I told her it was okay to eat it. There was one time when the kids were roasting marshmallows outside and decided it would be funny to stick a melted marshmallow on her nose. You can be sure I put a stop to that trick! But it WAS funny watching her try to toss it in the air, only to have it remain stuck right on the end of her nose! We never had to worry about Buffet. There was one day when I had her loaded up in the back of the old Dodge truck headed to the mountains when she decided to jump out onto the highway! She enjoyed just being with us, no matter what we were doing. Even as she got old, she'd still get so excited to think that she could go for a walk with us. Buffet and I logged many miles walking to Weigles and back. I always knew that she would protect us. Tom knew it too, Tom left me at home with a door-to-door salesman one time and although I was furious with him and terrified that the salesman could have hurt me, Tom said he knew Buffet would protect me.
Buffet tolerated more than a lot of dogs. She weathered the storms of two new babies coming into the house. She became best buddies with Tom's brother, Chris, when he lived with us for a while. Buffet waited patiently for us to return from numerous family vacations. She even let Sam ride her a few times. Truth be told, Buffet was the first dog that I ever considered "my dog." I trained her. She and I had a special bond, but Buffet made everyone in the family feel like she loved them the most. I'm going to miss the sound of the blinds being rattled whenever she wanted to go out. I'm also going to miss her persistent "nudging" on the edge of the bed whenever she was ready to get up and we weren't. Already once today, I thought I heard her shifting her position under the kitchen table. When I looked around and she wasn't there, my stomach hurt and tears came to my eyes.
Back the story, Mom and I knew that we could not bury Buffet ourselves, so I called Ed to see if he could help us by digging a hole for us. We picked a good spot and started digging. Ed showed up about ten minutes later and things picked up speed considerably from that point on. Dad looked at the ground a lot, while Mom and Ed got the job done. I tried, but basically got in the way, I think. We were all covered in mud by the time we finished. When I went inside to check on the kids, Sam was crying and said, "I have known her my entire life!" They were all crying for a little while.
I'll have to post the Christmas blog another day. I'm not feeling as "festive" as I should for that one. Bye, Buffet. You were a great dog!