Wednesday, June 13, 2012

the dog chronicles: Buddy.

Spring semester of my senior year of college was nothing short of AWESOME. I had finished my English degree during the previous semester, and all I had left to take were a final few art history courses to wrap up my Art History degree. The rest of my schedule included jazz and concert band, writing the Feature section for the school paper, and working part-time at the local coffee shop. Things were good.

In addition to my delightful academic schedule, I had a pretty great living situation. I had moved into the house on Third Street at the beginning of my junior year. There were five of us living there, and it was mostly fun – minus the moldy basement (where my room was) and the creepy fifth-year roommate that spent all his time locked up with his barely-legal girlfriend. The following year, creepy fifth-year moved out and two others moved in. During winter break that year, three of the six people living there ended up moving out. Our house was down to three: Sara, Nate, and me.

The three of us actually had a great time in our pea-green college house. We studied in the living room with Sex and the City in the background, and we took turns ordering Pizza Hut. We went on “family” outings to Target in Alexandria, and we had movie nights when our homework load permitted. During one of these movie nights in early April, we opted to watch Bolt. When the movie was over, Sara (a dog lover) said, “You guys… we should get a dog!” Thinking nothing of it, I agreed that a dog would be pretty great. It was another one of those bright ideas that I thought would never come to fruition, like getting all the mold out of the basement or finding a high-paying job immediately after graduation.

The next day, I came home from class to find Sara and Nate in the living room… with a dog. They had been on that morning and had located a six-month-old black lab in Glenwood, just thirty miles away. Nate and Sara made the trip and determined that the lab named Buddy needed to come home with them.
He's so happy!
Buddy was the most awkward dog I have ever met. At any social gathering, there’s always a guy who stands in the corner, not speaking to anyone and looking really uncomfortable. Buddy was that guy.

Like most Humane Society dogs, Buddy’s family tree was somewhat of a mystery. He was predominantly black lab, but he was long and lean like a greyhound. Buddy was gangly, and I saw him trip over his own feet more than once.
He was even an awkward cuddler.
There was no question that all three of us would walk and play with Buddy, but he was ultimately Nate’s dog (as Nate had been the one to foot the adoption fees). Nate had wanted to change Buddy’s name to “Jazz,” but even as the dog’s official owner, he was vetoed by Sara and me. “Jazz?” we said. “Come on.” The name “Buddy” was not terribly creative, but the dog did tilt his head at you when you said it, so that was good enough for us.

It didn’t take long before Buddy had a pretty sweet set-up at our house on Third Street. He had food, three enthusiastic dog-walkers, and a place in Nate’s bed (according to Nate, Buddy liked to be the little spoon). 
According to Sara, too.
Buddy even had a custom-made collar, courtesy of Sara’s parents. The one thing Buddy didn’t have, though, was enough toys. Allow me to state the obvious, but Buddy liked to chew on stuff. Buddy, reinforcing stereotypes, loved to chew on shoes. I kept my shoes behind my closed bedroom door, so I never sacrificed a pair to the jaws of Buddy. Sara, however, lost a pair of sandals, and at least one pair of Nate’s dress shoes was destroyed.

The Day Nate’s Shoes Were Eaten became a day that lived in Third Street infamy. Sara and I got home just minutes before Nate did, and we found the shoe carnage. There were chunks of shoe all over the living room, and Buddy just cocked his head at us. Before we could say, “Nate’s going to be MAD,” we heard the back door open. It was Nate. Neither of us wanted to be present while the Wrath of Nate was unleashed, but there was nowhere to go without him spotting us. There was one tiny spare room off the living room: it was mostly filled with junk our three former roommates hadn’t claimed yet. Sara and I crept into that room before Nate got to the living room. We tried to call Buddy in to hide with us, but Buddy just looked confused. 
A lot like this.
Sara and I peered through the crack in the door as Nate strode into the living room. Seeing the remains of his shoes, his face turned a vibrant shade of crimson. Nate yelled and waved his arms about, but Buddy continued to simply look confused. When Nate ran out of obscenities to yell at the dog, Sara and I were hoping that he’d vacate the living room so we could make our escape. No such luck. Nate plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV. Sara and I looked at each other: how were we going to get out now? We couldn’t very well open the door and say “surprise! We’ve been here the whole time!” As luck would have it, Nate briefly left the couch to get a Mountain Dew. Taking full advantage of this fleeting reprieve, Sara and I tiptoed out of the spare room. We ran into Nate around the corner, who wanted to know where we had come from. Needless to say, he figured us out pretty quickly. Shortly after the Day Nate’s Shoes Were Eaten, Sara and I gathered up the spare change from the house and bought Buddy a bunch of toys from the Family Dollar.

On the whole, Buddy was a good dog. He had a habit of standing up in the window and looking sad when you left: when combined with beautiful spring weather, this gesture made it especially hard to go to class. 
"Come back!"
Buddy wasn’t the best walker, either: he tended to run in circles and wrap his leash around your legs. Buddy was friendly, though: if you were on the couch doing your homework, he was sure to be huddled up against your legs.
Or he would be right on the couch with you.
Like all good things, my time with Buddy had to come to an end. Sara and I graduated that spring, and Buddy went to live with Nate. That summer, I had an internship in Denver. I came home for a week in July for the Brookings Summer Arts Festival, and Sara and Nate joined me – and brought Buddy! Buddy got to play with my parents’ enthusiastic black lab, and Buddy seemed a little bewildered. 
Maybe because Nate kept picking him up.
Dad had fun playing softball with both dogs, so now every time I say anything about Nate, Dad responds with “I miss Buddy.”

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Buddy, but Nate assures me that he’s just as awkward as ever. Even though I only lived with him for a month or so, Buddy helped cement my love for goofy black labs. 
So goofy!
Stay tuned for part three of the dog chronicles: Shadow, the other goofy black lab!