Sunday, 10 July 2016

Off-Topic: Buster

"Bye bye, Buster, bye bye. Bye bye, Buster, don't cry".

My dog Buster was born on April 10th, 2006. He was the sixth dog in a litter of seven, and he was born in Amington, an area in Tamworth. I first saw him when he was about a week old. The breeder already had several people interested in buying puppies, but I was the first to visit her, so I had the first pick. I don't know why I selected Buster from the litter. It was just intuition. I saw him and knew that it had to be him.

I didn't see him again until I went to pick him up when he was 10 weeks old. Of the seven puppies six had been sold and the breeder was keeping one bitch for herself. I was the last of the six customers who arrived to pick up his dog. The breeder seemed concerned about Buster's well-being. She liked to know where the puppies were going. The other five dogs had been sold to people who lived in Amington, people that she knew personally. I was the only customer who was a stranger, and she was concerned that I might not look after him properly. I assured her she had nothing to worry about, and I stayed in phone contact with her for a few months, reporting his progress.

Buster at one week old. If I didn't have the photo I would have forgotten that he was ever so small.

Buster and his family. Can you see which one he is?

Buster has been my companion for the last 10 years. Whoever said that a dog is a man's best friend knew what he was talking about. I split up with my wife at the end of 2006, so I was left alone with Buster. He was the joy of my life. With the exception of one weekend that he spent with my daughter in 2008 he's always been with me. I haven't been on holiday since I had him as a pet, so we've always been at home together.

Over the years he's been very healthy. After his vaccinations and micro-chipping I never needed to take him to the vet. That changed this year. On his 10th birthday he was still healthy, as far as I could tell. By the end of April he was showing signs of arthritis in his front legs. He might have had problems before, but that's when I first noticed it. My vet advised me to take him for walks of no more than 20 minutes, but within a few days I realised that even that was too long. First I cut it back to five minutes, and then I found that he couldn't even walk to the end of my street and back, less than two minutes. After taking a dozen steps he stopped and waited for me to carry him back home.

He seems to be happy and doesn't suffer as long as he's relaxing. He still gets excited when there are visitors, behaving like a crazy little puppy, but I have to face the fact that he'll only live for another year or two.

Adding to the complications is the fact that I'm going to Germany on July 12th. I can't take him with me because Staffordshire Bull Terriers are on a list of dangerous dog breeds that aren't allowed to be imported. My daughter has promised to take him, but she's currently living in a flat where pets aren't allowed. The lease runs out in September, so she'll move somewhere else. My friend Rose has offered to look after Buster for two months. Today I brought Buster to Rose, and he immediately felt at home. It's more difficult for me than for him. My house is so empty without Buster.

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