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  • Jane Wheeler


I believe that dogs, not people, are the closest thing to God’s unconditional love, they love you no matter what, at least that has been my experience since I was born. There has always been a dog or two around in my world.

Last weekend, suddenly, we had to say goodbye to one of our two golden retrievers – Buddy.

Buddy and Buster are 9 years old, and they have been inseparable since birth; born to different moms, same dad and on the same day, they have never been apart. Punishment was to put them in two different rooms for 5 minutes. They would greet each other like they had been apart for years!

Funny story: when I went to “looking” for a puppy, I only had the intention of buying 1 dog. Brian and I were only dating back then, but I brought him with me……..

We pulled up to the farm and 11 little puppy heads shot up over the boards in the dog pen and Brian right away said “Can we get them all?” I should have known then to turn the truck around.

We picked 2 out of the 11 to decide on and the owner said to bring those 2 into the house away from the pack to watch and play with them for a while. I ended up choosing Buster and Brian said he would take the other puppy back out to the pen. I paid for the 1 puppy, picked him up and walked out to the truck. As I got close to the truck I could see Brian in the cab with the other puppy. I walked up to the truck and Brian locks the truck door and says through the window, “You had better pay them for 2 if you want that one, because this one is coming with me.”

That is how I got 2 puppies, best decision ever.

I wanted to share a couple of “Buddy” stories with you.

Buddy was an American retriever which meant he was stockier and a working dog. He wanted to retrieve; there was never a more excited dog than Buddy when he was retrieving. If he was not retrieving, chances are he would be chewing on one of his toys. We had to invest in “hard” not chew-able toys. Buddy liked to rip apart “soft fuzzy things”. It was horrific for little children if they came over and had a “stuffy”, Buddy always thought it was for him. The child would unfortunately hold the stuffy high in the air and run, and the chase was on. Child running and screaming, Buddy chasing, tail wagging and me in hot pursuit yelling “Don’t run!”

Buster is an English retriever; bred more for show, longer hair and he does not mind telling you that it should be “petted.” While Buster liked to retrieve for a short time, Buddy was our endurance runner. Buster would much rather be “sniffing” than retrieving. If Buster wanted to play then he would run after the ball with Buddy but then he would run back attached to Buddies tail or leg, trying to get him to slow down and let him get some of the credit for retrieving.

On one of our adventures up to Liard Hot Springs, Brian and I stopped in at a campground along the way. We were going to cook supper over the campfire and sleep in the car for the night. The campground was well off the highway 20 kilometers or so and very isolated, we drove around scouting out the area. We came across only one other vehicle in the whole campground. It seemed very odd to us and we took notice of it because it was an older van backed into the path that one of the outhouses sat on; backed right up next to it, like in the bush. Now these were not “newer” outhouses, they were older and stinky so we wondered why would someone be parked that close to one? Possibly an accessibility problem for the person, you know not able to walk or something?

We decided to go away from the van to another area and proceeded to make our fire. We were cooking our food and the dogs were running around sniffing everything. All of the sudden Buddy walked to the back of our vehicle and sat down and started “growling” at the bush. Golden retrievers are not mean dogs, they do not growl, usually wanting only to “play”. This was very startling to both Brian and I. It was not a growl we had ever heard before, it was an intimidating growl. Buster took notice and then plunked himself right down beside Buddy and started to growl as well. We noticed that the dogs had perfectly placed themselves between us and the bush. We both scanned the bush and listened but other than the growling, we could hear nothing. It went on for quite a long time and it became unsettling. Brian looked over at me and said “Do you want to leave?” I nodded and he said, “Me too!”

We packed up and left, the dogs that whole time never left their sentry positions between us and the bush and kept growling.

We drove by the van on our way out of the park a good hour to hour and a half later and it was still backed up next to the outhouse. We could not drive away fast enough.

Once we got into cell service, we called the RCMP because something did not sit right and reported the van. We got a call back from the RCMP sometime in the night on our drive home thanking us for the call, they had gone out and the person in the van had been doing some illegal activity was all they said.

Brian and I believe that Buddy saved our lives that night; had we gone to bed locked in the back of our car with “bad guys” out in the bush, who knows what could have happened. We never again doubted the dogs “instincts” about people.

Yes Buddy has left a permanent hole in our hearts, Buster is missing his brother badly, we will recover but it will not be the same. Buddy was one of the “good” ones, even if he and Buster did eat all 24 butter tarts at Christmas one year, including 6 foil tins.

We are so grateful for his unconditional love, we will miss him.

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