Buck the Dog was a Prolific Thinker



Note: I wonder if Buck ever thought about getting up on our bed on a cold winter’s night. He would think he was as light as cotton candy when he edged up on the end of our bed. Then he would have used his toenails to pull his paws along inch by inch until he was between my wife and me, with his head laying on a pillow. Knowing Buck’s character, he would not have lain there long before he reached over and licked the faces of my wife and me. With a loving dog like that, we could not have asked him to get back down on the floor in his bed. We would have had two questions though. Buck, are our pillows comfortable enough for you, and Buck, do you need any cover?

Buck the dog was a prolific thinker. If you don’t think that dogs can think, you’re not the prolific thinker I thought you were.

When Buck adopted us, he had rules to be followed.

Rule #1. When Buck and I were riding down the street in a car, people were not to assume that I had a dog in the back, people were to assume Buck had a chauffeur in the front—and I was to act like it—particularly when that female white standard 100% poodle was prancing down the sidewalk.

Buck would draw to his full attention while sitting down, stare out the window, and give me the eye contact that said stop. The poodle’s escort eyed Buck, all 75 pounds of him, part brown Boxer, and part something, tilt his nose slightly in the air, and the poodle did the same. Buck would be disappointed because he had aspirations too.

Buck realized the poodle was a highfalutin’ dog. I guess he thought just one time in his life, but then he reconciled to the fact there were other girls in the world and moved on.

Rule #2. Clean water. Buck’s original home was with one of our neighbors. The way he came to adopt us was that he would visit us on Wednesday night and Sunday morning when our neighbor went to church. Buck inspected every room in our house, saw to it we gave him the right food to eat, and treats to snack on. We had a couple of water bowls, and he inspected those. When our neighbor finally had to go to a retirement home, Buck came to live with us. The first night he was at the water bowls, splashing the water out of them with his paws. We changed the water. He stopped splashing. Thereafter we made sure to change the two water bowls at least once a day, sometimes more often. I remembered that at our neighbor’s home, Buck had a big bucket of water, and apparently our neighbor at his advanced age failed to change it often enough for Buck’s satisfaction.

Rule #3. Is that a cat? Buck had two close friends when he lived with our neighbor. They were cats. We already had a cat, so Buck’s old friends went with our neighbor’s housekeeper when Buck came to live with us. Buck let us know immediately that our cat was his friend. The cat would rub up against Buck, especially his nose, and want Buck to pet her. Buck would just twitch his nose, and that seemed to satisfy our cat. If Buck had taken his gigantic paw, and tried to run it down the cat’s back, I imagine our cat’s purr would have been gone forever.

Rule #4. When Buck’s around, there is no need for an alarm system from ADT. Any movement outside the house, whether it was wind blowing a tree limb down, or some animal tiptoeing through the yard, Buck sprang into action. He’d charge out of his bed from the back of the house to the front and back doors, and bark that bass voice that was about an octave below J. D. Sumner when he sang backup for Elvis. That might be ten o’clock at night or four in the morning. No burglar ever decided to confront Buck, to find out what was on the other side of the door. What the burglar didn’t know was that Buck was probably the friendliest dog in the world.

Rule #5. The air-conditioner was Buck’s domain. I watched TV in my room while Buck lay on the floor, or at least that’s where he started out. I don’t think he ever rose up to where I could see him, but just kept inching toward the air-conditioner vent behind the TV. In about thirty or forty minutes, I would begin roasting on a hot summer night, and thought I’d have to call the service people to repair the air-conditioning. Then I remembered Buck. By this time his body was fully covering the vent. I’d get up and go over to ask him to share the cool air. He’d raise his head up, smile at me (I’m telling you he was smiling), and lay his head down again. I had to take his back paws and gently pull him away from the vent enough for both of us to survive.

Rule #6. Are we going to the Vet? Of all the things Buck thought about the most was where he was going when he got in the car. No dog on this earth liked riding better than Buck—unless it was a trip to the Vet. I never could figure out how Buck knew.

I once stood in front of the mirror, looking at my face to see if I could tell when we were going to the Vet, or going for a ride, and I couldn’t tell the difference, but Buck could. A regular ride he would bound into the car. A trip to the Vet meant I had to pick him up, and put him in the car. It was like Buck had figured out how to put magnets on the bottom of his paws and embed magnets in the driveway that held him in place.

Rule #7. Is that a syringe you have in your hand? Later in life Buck developed diabetes. I never had heard of a dog having diabetes, and we had had many dogs. The treatment was a daily shot of insulin. Once I ever got Buck to the Vet, he was a model citizen. The Vet gave him his first insulin shot but the first day I was about to give him his insulin shot, he was looking around on the wall to see if I had any qualifying diplomas.

Rule #8 Buck was always very dignified in what he did, and he sure wasn’t going to be undignified when he died. I held his head, and told him all the other dogs that had lived with us were waiting for him, and that I was sure there was a female, white standard 100% poodle there as well. Buck looked at me, and gave me one last smile.

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