Slice of Life- Buster

Okay, so, this is a tough one to write.

At the moment, (i.e. for the last couple of years), I’ve been living in Dublin Ireland, and last October, my girlfriend (now fiancée) and I moved into a new house in a very different area of Dublin.

A few days ago, just last Tuesday, I went to the shop for a few snacks, where I saw a crowd gathered around a very nervous looking Jack Russel terrier. This little fella had been tied up outside the shop a few hours earlier and nobody had come looking for him. With the shop about to close in a few minutes, the people gathered around were getting seriously worried that he’d have nowhere to go. There was a big crowd around him when I came in and a slightly smaller crowd when I was walking out of the shop with my purchases.

Nobody knew where he came from and nobody was able to take him. Largely owing to the fact that my fiancée and I are absolutely crazy about dogs, and also to the fact that my boyhood dog, the very one that seemed to be my only source of comfort during years of depression, was a Jack Russell too, I volunteered to take him for a few days if nobody else could, just until a permanent home could be found. Someone spoke up that they had a feeling that they knew where he came from and they took him in a car to see if they could find the owner. I left my number with a woman at the shop and went on my way to the house, just around the corner, with the idea that I’d take him if they couldn’t find his owner.

They couldn’t find his owner, but the woman they thought might have owned him was delighted to take him, having her own little dog and being an animal lover herself. About ten minutes after getting my fiancée’s hopes up with the idea of maybe having a dog around the house for a few days, I received a phonecall telling me twas not meant to be.

Luckily though, the very next day, I got a phonecall from the woman who’d been looking after him. Apparently her dog had been a bit intimidating for our little stray and she asked if I might take him.

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On Wednesday night, this scared, exhausted little guy came into our home, terrified of making eye contact, covered in grime and smelling very, very strongly. Wednesday night was also notable for the sheer amount of diarrhea that a dog stomach can apparently produce. Whether it was the wet dog food he’d been fed that day or the sheer panic-inducing situation the past couple of days had been, he was not reacting well to it.

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People had started calling him Buster, so we’ve been doing the same. On Thursday, being St. Patrick’s Day and all, I had no work, so I stayed and played and looked after Buster. The night before, he’d been a bit scared of me (We have a nasty feeling that whoever abandoned him was a man who was also in the habit of mistreating him and maybe even being violent to him). But gradually, over the day, he came alive.We gave him a lovely wash and, although he tried to escape from the water and struggled a little bit when I dried him, when it was all done, he leaned forward and timidly licked my nose, the first time he’d licked either of us in the sixteen hours since we’d taken him in.

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We got him a lovely new blue collar to replace the cracked dirty one he’d been tied up with. Thursday evening, while the three of us were sitting on our back step, he suddenly started to whimper softly and jump a little and suddenly started licking us both excitedly on our faces. I truly believe that in that otherwise unremarkable moment we got to witness the instant when little Buster started to feel hope and happiness instead of fear.

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Since then, he’s only grown in excitement and affection. He got a cone around his neck after a trip to the vet yesterday because he’s been gnawing at a possible skin allergy that had been left untreated, but he’s otherwise right as rain. He’s learning quickly to cope with the cone, which had him virtually stuck in place at first, afraid to move for fear of catching his cone off the ground. He’s a brave little soul and we’re both completely head over heels about him and I can’t describe how it’s felt to see him blossom into such a happy, affectionate dog.

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Unfortunately, as I’m writing this, we’re preparing to give him to a new home. The first people to make contact about taking him in have called and that’s brought reality crashing down. At the moment, it just doesn’t seem like we could afford to keep this guy permanently. We’re on a pretty tight budget and he’s definitely going to need a lot of love and care. The best thing we can do for him, as much as it really, truly breaks our hearts to think about him leaving, is to make sure he’s going to a loving, happy home.

*UPDATE*- Buster’s apparent real family have made contact, they’ve been looking to get him back since Tuesday. Apparently he belongs to an elderly couple whose son with some mental health issues took the dog out for a walk and forgot about him outside the shop. We’re not exactly thrilled that Buster’s going to be going back to the house where he was allowed to get so dirty, where he may have learned to be afraid of people, or where his scratching and gnawing at his itchy skin went untreated. I don’t know if he belongs with these other people and his timid nature was just because he was away from home or if sending him back to them would mean sending him back to an unhappy life.

I don’t know what I should do.

All I can do is hope and hope and hope for a happier home than it seemed like he came from at first glance. Honestly though, I’m tearing up as I’m writing this and my hands are shaking with a lot of anger.

People don’t deserve dogs. If you have a dog, please, try to be worthy of its love and loyalty.

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