Our sorely-missed Sou’wester winds have returned to slog the island, hellbent on casting leaves like confetti, reviving moss to its rightfully green state, and painting each pane with raindrops and rivulets. The world is dark outside my windows, the drizzle present, and the chill, impatient. I write from my kitchen nook, on an old oak table with Buddy at and on my feet. He’s snoring quietly and comfortably while the din of the downspout sets a tempo to his breathing and repose. My toes are kept warm by this 65-pound beanbag who takes up more room than one would suspect, but I’m not complaining. In fact, Buddy has grown to fill the house both in presence and with his loving and bombastic personality.
It’s hard to believe I adopted this big lug close to a year ago. Buddy went from apartment living to plodding the porch and parlors of an old farmhouse with acres to explore (supervised, of course). For the first few months, we got to know each other, and in that time, he learned that a butt rub is a whimper away, that treats are stored in a coffee tin, and that I’m basically a total pushover. As for me, I’ve learned that Buddy is the most congenial fellow, neither growling nor posturing toward any soul or beast, always happy to see you, me, the neighbor and the stranger whether two-legged, four-legged or festooned with feathers and sporting a beak.
Buddy operates as if playtime is anytime, and that the only worthwhile interruption is mealtime, treats, or a walk, or ride in the truck. If I pick up any object whether heavy like a hammer or slight like a sock, all bets are off for me completing the intended duty; it’s tug-of-war time for the big guy and Tom’s chore list goes on life support. (Did I mention that I was a pushover?) Buddy’s been weaned off of fine leather footwear, and now focuses mainly on black plastic nursery pots, ropes, and raw bones, though it doesn’t take much for him to find new teething treasures when introduced. (Yogurt containers are this week’s preferred chew toy.) My workboots, offerings any time they are off my feet, are gathered up by Buddy and stacked in prominent piles around the house, like tributes. Any time I return home, Buddy greets me with a boot.
If Vashon Island had a version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Buddy would surely have his own star. He’s known at all storefronts, and by all shopkeepers. I fear Buddy’s treat habit may imperil Vashon Ace Hardware’s profit margins. At Snapdragon Bakery, Buddy knows the regulars (make that the marks) who save him flakey tidbits should he happen to drop by with that Tom fellow. It’s not uncommon to hear, “Hey, Buddy!” shouted from a passing car, and for approaching strollers to request a pet or two. Buddy is more than willing to accommodate, and quickly backs in, just in case you didn’t know where to start first. (All roads lead to the butt rub.)
Buddy beams an effortless charisma. Even when I had Boz and Gracie around (the Cary Grant and Greta Garbo of bulldogs, respectively) folks didn’t make a fuss over them like they do Buddy. He’s a joyful jester wrapped in fur, and that is not lost on any onlooker. In my truck, he hangs out the window so daringly that I’m afraid the flaps and folds of his skin will launch him like a kite. Any drive to town quickly prompts an oncoming motorcade of smiles. The big guy is hard to miss and hard not to love.
There are times when Buddy sleeps, like now on this early morning, that I think of Boz and Gracie, and my first dog Maggie and the fond memories and times we enjoyed. I miss them dearly, but know Buddy shares their legacy of love and companionship in his own way and on his own terms. Yes, he’s his own dog, an original, and I’m happy to report Buddy has found a forever home at Tall Clover, taking permanent residence on the farm and in my heart.