Last week we had to say good bye to another of our good friends at the dog park, Buster the Beagle, affectionately known to his friends as Little B. Sad as we are at his passing, we take comfort in the fact that Buster lived a full life, having reached the grand age of 17. This achievement is even more remarkable when one hears Buster’s story and realizes he should have been dead years ago.
When Geoff, Buster’s guardian of many years, first met him, Buster was in the possession of a rather unpleasant farmer who told Geoff tersely, “You want this dog? If not, I’m going to take him out and shoot him.” One look at Buster and Geoff knew he couldn’t let that happen.
Sometime later, during an examination by his vet, Geoff found the reason why Buster favored one of his rear legs. It seems someone had shot at him in the past and Buster had shotgun pellets embedded in his leg. The pellets couldn’t be removed, leaving Buster with a permanent limp and trouble with arthritis in his later years.
This early trauma never phased Buster. Even as health issues slowed him in his final years, he never missed an opportunity to go for a walk and or to visit with his friends at the dog park. Every time we thought the end was near, he would rebound and surprise us. We thought he would go on forever.
Buster reminds us that life is what we make of it. His early mistreatment didn’t stop him from finding and loving his best friend and his new family. His limp didn’t stop him from acting like a puppy on occasion. And, while old age slowed him a bit, it didn’t diminish the joy he felt in visiting his friends at the dog park. We will miss Buster but will remember his lesson that quality of life is more important than mere longevity.