Buddy - Australian Shepherd - Irish Setter - Best Friend
sixty pounds of high voltage energy covered in black fur...
Buddy was born in July of 2004 on or about the 17th, but we're not real sure of that. For the purposes of celebrating his birthday - because I'm a sucker for sentimental things like that - we're calling it the 17th. A family in Holton, Kansas (thirty minutes north of Topeka) had run an ad in the "free" section of the Topeka Capital Journal offering "Australian Shepherd/Irish Setter mix" puppies for adoption. That's where I got him. He was eight weeks old and I could hold him in the palm of one hand and he was scared to death. There were five puppies available when I got there and they were all busy nursing (they'd been eating dry food for a week). All five were males and looked identical. Buddy was in the middle. I picked him because being in the middle was a pretty good place to be when you were nursing. If he was smart enough to get the best seat at the table he might be smart at other things as well. That was my logic anyway...
It's a little overwhelming to try to sit here three years later and even begin to scratch the surface of what an asset Buddy has been to me. He's been my friend, my guardian, my travelling companion, my ward and my confidant and we've been together twentyfour seven for nearly three years now. To say we've gotten close would be an understatement. I've gotten to know him so well I can literally predict what his behavior will be in a given situation. Most situations anyway. I suppose he can probably predict mine too.
Buddy has three jobs. He gets paid for one and does the other two because he considers it his civic duty. Going out in the front yard six days a week and getting the newspaper is his paying gig. His weekly schedule is Monday thru Saturday and he earns a jerky treat in wages (or whatever the current flavor-of-the-month is in treats). He'd work a full seven day week if I'd let him but we've had a couple bad experiences with the Sunday paper (too big for him to get in his mouth and he wound up scattering it all over the yard) and since then he's gotten Sunday's off. His second job is guarding the yard and he does that on a "pro bono" basis. He guards it from birds and squirrels and anything else that has the nerve and audacity to dare enter it. He takes this job very seriously. Birds are NOT allowed to land in the yard. He would prefer they didn't fly overhead either, but since this is something he can't control, he reluctantly lets them slide. His third job is official fly catcher. He'll chase a single fly from room to room throughout the entire house. If it's a worthy fly, the chase can last for hours and is po-boy entertainment at it's finest! Buddy's relentless. He's constantly losing sight of the fly and dashing back and forth through the house as he tries to pick it up again. When the fly gets close enough, he'll leap at it, snapping his jaws so loud I can hear it across the room. Woe to the fly that strays too far into Buddy's airspace. He gulps them down like treats.
Buddy is my ace number one road dog. Whether we're only going across town or halfway across the country, his behavior as a passenger in a moving vehicle is exceptional. On long trips or when extended highway driving is involved, he'll eventually crawl in the back and curl up on his blanket and go to sleep. Even when sleeping, he's tuned in to the pitch of the motor and climbs back up front the minute I start to slow down. Buddy watches everything that moves. He likes to look for people walking or other dogs he can size up as either friend or foe. The geese at Lake Shawnee fascinate him, yet make him slightly nervous at the same time. Their loud, abrupt manner makes him uncertain of what their intentions are. The bolder ones aren't the least bit afraid of him (and he knows it) and they're large enough to potentially do some damage if it came down to it. His usual animated attention gets suddenly very quiet as we approach and pass the geese. He doesn't take his eyes off them, but he doesn't make a sound either. Basically he freezes up. Squirrel's, rabbits, cats, the occasional deer and certain dogs (if they're small and look friendly) elicit a completely different reaction from him. He gets charged up and if the window is open he'll stick his head halfway out and start dancing in the seat, all the while whining with excitement. Big dogs or dogs that appear aggressive and uninviting, cause him to freeze up just like the geese do. He gets very, very quiet and slouches down lower in his seat until we've passed.
continued on page 2 >