Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In Loving Memory of Buddy, April 1996-September 14, 2011

Our beloved black lab and terrier mix, Buddy (aged 15 1/2), went into heart failure last night. Today he passed peacefully and at home with the help of the House-call Vet, who even waited for my son to get here from out of town. It was a gentle end to a wonderful, long life. He will be dearly missed.

This was printed in Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from the Dog, © 2009.

Best Dog in the World
by T’Mara Goodsell

Years ago, I owned the very best dog in the world.

I was a child when we got her. She was a graceful brown hound, a foundling who taught me that our pets are not purchased, but ordained.

She romped when I did and knew how to smile in that funny way that only some dogs have. She grew up with me, always there when I needed her. My grown hand still remembers the sleek bump on the top of her head and that gentle divot just past her nose that fit my index finger just perfectly.

She passed away during one of my college vacations. My heart broke then, and I knew that there would never be another dog like her, and there hasn’t been. I was sure that I could never love another dog as much as I’d loved her.

Fortunately, I was wrong about that part.

My next dog came into my life when I was married. My husband traveled for a living, and I was often lonely. This dog grew into a lumbering wolfhound/sheepdog mix who taught me patience. He was a large, grizzled sentry, that dog. He rarely left my side until the children were born, and then he became their guardian, too. I can still feel that swirl of fur along his back and the weight of his chin when it rested in my lap.

When he passed away, my heart broke. As much as I had loved that childhood dog, I had been wrong. This was the very best dog in the world. There would never be another dog like him, and there hasn’t been. I was sure I would never love another dog as much as I’d loved him.

I was wrong again.

We got the next one, a loping black lab-and-terrier mix, when the children were little. He taught me the importance of adapting. He was everyone’s dog from the beginning, and that was just as it should be. When he played tug of war with the children, he dragged them across the kitchen floor as they shrieked with laughter. He always seemed to sleep in the room of the child who needed his company the most.

These days his face is expressively gray, and he spends more time with me since the almost-grown children aren’t around so much. The other day my oldest, home from college, played tug of war. We all laughed—just a little—as the dog was gently pulled across the kitchen floor.

He is, of course, the very best dog in the world. I will never forget that exquisitely soft tuft of fur behind his ears or the tickly feel when he nuzzles. There won’t be another dog like him.

And that’s okay, because we will never be at this point in our lives again.

Sometimes I’ve wondered why two species that get along so well should have such different life spans. It just doesn’t seem right. And then I wonder if that’s part of the lesson: To teach us that love itself has a spirit that returns again and again and never really dies.

It’s amazing, in a way, how they bring to our ever-changing lives exactly what it is that we need at the moment. They make room for one another, this family of dogs who has never even met. And they fit—into our families, into our lives, into our memories, and into our hearts—because they always have been and always will be the best dogs in the world.

One’s first love is always perfect until one meets one’s second love. ~Elizabeth Aston


  1. Tammy,
    My heart goes out to you and your kids. I know how much this hurts. You and Buddy were blessed to have one another. HUGS

  2. Tammy--I am so sorry for your loss. If you don't know Cynthia Rylant's book, "Dog Heaven" (a picture book) check it out.

    Buddy is romping and playing right now--maybe with your four-legged loves from the past?--and doesn't have to lean against anyone anymore.

    I'll be thinking of you and your kids...

  3. Tammy,

    You're story gave me so much comfort after Rocky's passing. I know how much you and the kids will miss him! A dogs unconditional love is truly amazing. He was the best dog!

    I'm so happy for you that Tim made it back in time too. The best possible passing for him. In time, you and the kids will be laughing with all the cherished memories! You are so blessed to have such loving, wonderful kids and a wonderful dog! Much love my dear!


  4. Thanks so much to you all. Your kind words made me cry all over again. But in a good way!

  5. Tammy, the photos and the story are wonderful. And Buddy's face! How absolutely sweet. I love his terrier beard.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  6. I'm so sorry Tammy. My heart aches for you and I'm sending love your way. Your story was incredible. And your little stinker Buddy, well he'll be in your heart forever.

  7. Hi Tammy,
    I'm so sorry to hear about Buddy's passing. What a wonderful life he had with your family, and how much joy he brought into your lives.
    Your essay in Chicken Soup is touching, and a perfect tribute. And the quote at the end of your post is fitting.

  8. Oh, Tammy...your post made me cry. And cry. How I know that feeling. It's no wonder this story was published - it's wonderful. Until now, I never considered the "family of dogs who never met" - what a wonderful thought. I'm so sorry for your loss. I was in your shoes just this past December. I second Sioux's suggestion...Dog Heaven is a WONDERFUL book.

  9. Such a shame that we outlive our beloved pets! I miss my Precious girl every day, even though I adore Lizzie and Mulligan. She will have been gone a year in November. When she died,it was the first time I had ever seen my husband really cry and we have been together for 25 years.

    Tammy, let me give you a little hug ((( )))!


  10. I can't tell you how much your kind words have meant to me! Sending back the same sentiments because I know you wouldn't have commented unless you knew the feelings firsthand.

  11. Tammy, I'm so sorry to hear about Buddy. Sending my love your way. Run free, Buddy!


  12. I missed this post. I'm so sorry to read that your lovely Buddy has travelled on. A dog's lifespan does not match a human's but the memories and the love and laughter live on forever. I hope the pain is easing a little now. It takes a long time to realise that the absence is permanent.

  13. Pat, your comment made me smile when I needed it. And jabblog, your kind words really comforted me when I needed that. Thanks to you both!


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