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Walkin'

We put Buzz down last week as the pain from the cancer in his leg gradually grew too severe to mask with medication. At twelve-and-a-half-years– nearly a centenarian in human time– there wasn’t anything else to be done but to end his suffering.
Buzz was a lot of things, including a . . .
Walking companion for many a mile who perked up enough to limp a few hundred yards even on his last day; brave hunter of lions, true to his breed of Ridgeback, who made sure big cats stayed well clear of our hearth and home; sissy who cowered at loud noises, whimpered at vaccinations and whined at toenail clips; slapstick comedian who frantically splashed after carp in shallow water and gaily bounced in tall grass just because he could; and source of amusement for squirrels that, I swear, conspired to torment him.
Far-seeing and ranging scout who used keen senses to detect big game and reluctant taker of leash.
Prince, who could give the Princess and Her Pea a run for her money when seeking out a soft place to sleep, and vagabond capable of snoozing in the back seat all the way to Denver.
Good big brother to Pearl, who patiently put up with his ditzy adopted sister as she pummeled him during her puppy frenzies; gooser of guests who welcomed friends into our home with a poke of the nose in two of the places people care to be poked the least; and gentle soul who let grandchildren toddle over him.
Chaser of deer, marcher in parades, surfer of counters, snatcher of food and scratcher at my door if I accidently shut him out.
Awkward puppy that looked like a dachshund with gigantic feet.
Patient writing coach who curled up by my side as I typed this column.
Emitter of smells fetid and rotten; smeller of roses and every other thing, fragrant or foul; thumper of the tail when asked, “Hey Buzz, how are you doing?” and power-napper extraordinaire.
Greeter at the door always glad to see me, beggar of treats, and soft spot beneath my feet as I swung out of bed in the morning. Pouter when the suitcases came out; and scolder demanding, “Where were you, I missed you, how could you leave me, where were you...,” when we returned home. Performer of tricks– sit, lie down, roll over, speak and shake– but only when a treat was involved; and comer when called, well, when he wanted to come anyway.
Barker at the door to go out or come in, as much as twenty times on a pleasant day.
Wearer of many hats and head decorations including antlers at Christmas, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day and one of my orange stocking caps for our most recent holiday card.
Punch line to a true and funny story. During a walk on a gravel road he suddenly spotted and then chased another dog down the quiet lane and around the corner of a barn. When I gave chase and turned the corner myself, I came upon the county’s drug enforcement officer who was training his drug sniffing dog. When he asked what I was doing, I replied, “trying to catch a Buzz.”
Chowhound– he almost ate himself to death more than once– and his appetite stayed with him to the very end. The night before he was to be put to sleep he gobbled down his usual allotment of kibble, and then joined me in devouring a big steak. We shared it together, breaking the long-standing, and mostly-obeyed rule of no feeding from the table. When the time came to get the injection I distracted him with a hotdog, and his head rested on my lap for the last time as he reached for one more bite.
True and loyal friend who I dearly miss.
A hole in my heart that gradually heals as I remember he is in a better place now.