Dog on Duty

Growing up in the wild Comox Valley was fun. There was fresh air, lots of trees, and plenty of room to play. I spent hours outside tromping through the crown land that bordered our property, exploring and imagining. My frequent companion on these outings was our dog, Buddy. Buddy was a Chocolate Lab; a beautiful, clumsy, horse of a dog who loved the outdoors as much as I did. Solidly built with a big, spade shaped head and green eyes, he was a good-looking fellow. His coat was a warm, dark mahogany that turned to auburn in the summer – a byproduct of his many hours spent sunbathing on the lawn. With his enormous paws and barrel-like body, my mother once described Buddy as being “as subtle as a freight train.” He was hard to miss as he crashed through the underbrush, snapping branches and snorting like an asthmatic bear. Buddy had free rein of our large yard, and eventually forged his own trails from our house to his favorite haunts. He loved jumping over the collapsed section of fencing and visiting the dog next door, a yellow lab named Sunny. Occasionally, the two of them would gallop down the driveway and explore the neighborhood, wandering around and strolling down the middle of our street. One time Buddy and Sunny decided they were too hot and happily jumped into our friend’s inflatable kiddie pool. In a voice barely under control, she called and asked if we could come collect them, since her kids wanted to swim too!

As we learned over the years, you had to be careful with Buddy’s freedom. If you let him outside too late in the day, he refused to come back in. He needed to perform his duty of protecting our house. He took the role seriously. This involved him circling the building all night, barking loudly, and furiously snuffing the air. My parents, who slept on the first floor, suffered the most. There was simply no way to sleep through the constant noise. No matter how much my father stood at the back door and called for him, Buddy wouldn’t listen. In fact, Buddy would saunter to the door, stare at dad, then turn and trot away. Eventually, many sleepless hours later, he would show up at the back door, scratching to get in. How maddening! I imagine our neighbors were none too pleased with Buddy’s late night guard duties. Eventually, he slowed down, and his nights were spent inside on my sister Emma’s bed, a luxury that we felt he earned. As his laziness increased, he stopped bothering to even get up when we called him, instead just thumping his tail on the floor. Even now, twenty years later, I can still hear the sound of his rudder-like tail on the carpet: a solid whump-whump-whump sound. What a great dog.

My family’s current canine, Teddy, is another outdoorsman. You wouldn’t expect a little twelve pound terrier to be so rough and tumble, but Teddy holds his own. He loves boating, chasing squirrels, and digging in the dirt. I love watching him play with my kids. They chase him around the yard, laughing and giggling – and he simply dances away. My daughter frequently exclaims: “isn’t Teddy just the cutest dog in the world? He’s such a good boy!” Even my youngest, who is about as clumsy as Buddy was, knows how to be gentle with the dog. My son, who is now eighteen months old, will walk up to Teddy and tenderly put his face into the dog’s fur.

We couldn’t have asked for a better family dog. Teddy is patient and good-natured, with a loving disposition, and he’s never, not once, kept us up all night while he patrols the neighborhood! Still, Buddy is the dog I grew up with. You can’t replace a friend like that.