Buster: May 20, 2003 – September 28, 2014

By Darren Stehle

A memoriam for my dog, Buster, who passed away from leptospirosis.

My dog, Buster, passed away on Sunday, September 28th.

A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a highly successful food blogger and cookbook author, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen. She was helping me with the direction of my blog and getting clear on understanding my audience and how to best serve them. One of the many things she suggested to me was showing more personality, more ME on my blog.

I’ve struggled with this aspect of “personality.” I work hard to write conversationally and in the first person, as if we’re having a friendly chat. I’ve also been working hard to produce a greater variety of posts within my “niche” (health and food blogging), but sometimes I feel trapped by that word.

For today’s post please allow me to share what has been one of the greatest influences in my life. Let me tell you about Buster.

Buster's 11th birthday with me and Christiaan

A happy family on Buster’s 11th birthday

Buster on the beach

At Hanlan’s Point Beach, very early one weekend morning

Buster in his winter outfit

Buster in his Winter outfit. He loved his “Mutt Luks”

Buster on the dock

Lake of Bays, Ontario. What a majestic dog

Tuesday 30 September

I feel naked without him.
Two doggy bags in my shorts and a jacket pocket made my heart stop.
His empty bed in the living room
the chew and squeak toys he loved.
I threw away his towels
picked up his cuddle blanket on the landing
smelled it, put it in the laundry.
His smell is fading from the carpets.

How I long for him to come up the stairs panting and smiling.
The tilt of his head and stiff-stopping
he looks at me, mouth closed.
I smile back at him
he beams his toothy, wet-lipped smile.
Rubbing just inside his ears
his head slowly drops
and he’d sigh like you or I.

Buster and me on the floor

Love

The week of September 22nd

Crunch week. We had just returned from a restful and much-needed weekend at a friends cottage. I had finished the editing of my new book, Cook a Week of Meals in 4 Hours, and for the rest of the week I would be working on layout and design. Buster started to show signs of not feeling well on Tuesday. He was listless, didn’t want to get up from his bed and had no energy to walk. That evening he threw up his water and that continued into Wednesday. I took him to the hospital on Thursday. After a batch of tests they decided to treat him for leptospirosis, which was confirmed by blood test Saturday afternoon.

It was one of those times I had step back and realize what’s most important in life. I couldn’t get much work done on my book from Friday onwards and I gave in to the numbness that comes with preparing for loss.

Christiaan and I were there on Sunday morning, prepared. On Saturday he was emotionless – in a cage, isolated, with a catheter and insulin, unwilling to drink or eat. On Sunday morning he lifted his head and looked directly at me and showed me his open-mouth-panting-happy-face. It gave me a moment of hope, even though I knew it was probably the pain killers kicking in. He was saying goodbye.

We were getting ready to head back to the clinic for 6pm when the vet called. Around 4:30pm Buster looked up, took a very deep breath, and without commotion or discomfort he completely exhaled and was gone.

We went to see him, to say goodbye. Buster looked as handsome as always, even in death. I stroked his head and ears thinking maybe he’d look up. He was still warm to my touch.

Buster 28Jun14 Profile

Buster being a wonderful model for my new camera, June 2014

After

I had a very special bond with Buster, one that was recognized by friends, acquaintances, and neighbours in my building who left cards in my door.

He was my best companion, my Zen role model who I cherished and loved. I learned so much having him in my life and with each year I learned how to be kinder and more understanding, not just of him, but of myself.

Buster was what the “BE” meant to me in my Eat, Move, Be triad. I wanted a dog as a constant companion and to be part of my lifestyle. I’m so grateful for the time we had together and for the gift he was in my life.

It’s so empty at home. I squeaked his toy this morning. I don’t want to move his beds. I don’t want to forget, and won’t. In bed last night I was expecting to hear him climbing the stairs to join us in the bedroom – to do his doggy dance on his doggy bed, turn, turn, turn, and settle. And then his big dog sigh.

Buster and me selfie

Putting our best selfies forward

And finally Buster learning how to walk with his new Winter boots.:-)

Be well.

Darren

  • Elizabeth Kuranoff

    Such a handsome happy boxer. Buster was truly blessed to spend his life with you. I am so glad that another boxer has found his way into your hearts and home. Congratulations to Reggie, the new blessed boxer!

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. We are thrilled with Reggie.

  • What a touching, beautiful post.

    • Thanks Jaden – these memories are still very present. Going through all my photos of Buster made me smile. I have so many, and it was hard to choose which ones to use.