Posted by: bree1972 | December 11, 2011

The Trash Can Dog 12/12/2011

When a story from the past starts to form in my head, I often turn to the boxes of photographs we’ve accumulated through the years.  Those boxes hold prints from long discarded cameras – the kind that used real film that needed to be developed.  In this digital age, I hardly ever have prints developed anymore, and I will one day lament that.  All I have now are neat little zippered pockets with dozens of camera cards lined up in a row.  When I want to look for a specific photo, I insert the card into its proper slot in the laptop and search through thousands of pictures to find the right one.  I’m sure there’s a more organized way to do things, but I don’t have time to figure it out right now.

I was going through boxes of prints this weekend, looking for a specific subject, and instead came across some photos of Bud.  I sat in the middle of the bed and flipped through them, then did my best to capture the prints onto a digital camera card.  The story I thought I would write today I’ll do another time. Instead, here’s the story of my trash can dog.

I’d wanted a Golden Retriever forever.  Ted wasn’t a fan of big dogs (he’s had doxies all his life), but I wanted a big dog, and I wanted that big dog to be a Golden.  With Ted’s approval (boy, did THAT take some doing), I applied to a Golden Retriever Rescue in Atlanta, and after going through a screening process worthy of a baby adoption, we were approved.  The organization was very thorough and careful about placing the right Golden with the right home, so we knew it might be weeks –  or months – before we finally received our rescue Golden.  So we waited.

There’s a block house across the street from us at the lake that’s a rental, and the people who lived there had a Labrador mix named Bud.  I loved him.  He was an outside dog and there was no fence, so he would cross the street to greet me every day when I got home from work, never looking out for cars, just bounding happily over for a pet and an ear scratch.  I was out doing yard work one day when Bud spotted me and ran out to cross the road, just as a car came around the curve.  The car hit Bud’s hip a glancing blow, hard enough to scare him to death, but not hard enough to really injure him.  He learned to watch for cars that day.

Returning from work one afternoon, I rounded that same curve to see Bud fighting for his life against two Rottweilers, who were the bullies of the neighborhood (this was before a leash law came into affect in the rural parts of our county).  I knew better than to try and interfere, but no one else was around.  I started yelling from the safety of our yard, and luckily the Rotties ran off.  When I got to Bud, I found him bleeding from a gaping hole in his chest and discovered to my horror that he was tied to the block house trash can.  My mind simply couldn’t take it in.  I knocked on their door, but no one answered, and it dawned on me that everything that had been in their yard was gone.   I untied Bud, led him into our fenced yard, then went inside and called the landlord of the block house.  She told me the renters had left in the middle of the night without paying their rent and had taken everything with them.

“No, not everything” I said.  “They left Bud.”

“Who’s Bud?” she asked.

“Their dog,” I said.

“Well, all I can tell you is they’re gone.  I’ll call the dog pound, and they’ll come get him.”

“No need,” I said.  “Bud’s mine now.”

Ted got home a few minutes later, and he was just as horrified as I was.  We loaded Bud into his truck and drove to the vet’s.  The hole in his chest was a puncture wound, so it couldn’t be stitched.  They cleaned it up, gave him all his shots (we had no records, so we had to assume he’d never seen the inside of a vet’s clinic), started him an antibiotics, ran tests and found he was heartworm positive.  He had fleas and ticks.  They guessed he was about 18 months old – mostly chocolate lab, but with a little mixed-in pit bull.  Several – several – hundred dollars later, we left the vet clinic with our new dog Bud.

We waited two weeks to let his wounds get better before starting his heartworm treatment.  A couple of months later, Bud’s injuries were healed, and the heartworm medication had done its magic – we had a healthy dog.  A few months after that, we had him neutered.

Sometime during Bud’s heartworm treatment I received a call – the Golden Retriever Rescue had found the perfect dog for the Horton’s.  I told them we had rescued a Lab mix instead.  They were happy for the Lab mix.

Bud and I in the spring of 1996 - just after completion of his heartworm treatment (we think he was around two years old here).

Ted was against allowing Bud in the house.  “He’s never lived inside, he’s not housebroken, Shotzie (our miniature dachshund at that time) won’t like it, etc. etc. etc.”  But one afternoon, when Ted left to watch football at the Bottom, I invited Bud into the house for the first time.  He raced through each room, sniffing everything – furniture, carpet, walls, Shotzie’s toys – ending his explorations in our bedroom by lifting his leg on a tall ficus tree in the corner.  I was horrified.  I grabbed his collar, said “No” really forcefully, and led him outside, shaking my finger in his face all the way out the back door.  Going back inside, I cleaned and disinfected the carpet, and didn’t tell Ted a thing about it.  When Ted left the house for a few hours a couple of days later, I called Bud back in.  He walked into the den, settled down by the couch, and – hours later – went to the door to ask out.  He became an inside dog that day, never having a single accident in the house until years and years later, when old age caught up with him.

Bud captured my hubbie’s heart for good the first time he approached Ted’s chair and Shotzie, sitting in Ted’s lap, almost took Bud’s nose off.  Five minutes later Bud had worked his way around the room to the back of Ted’s chair and came up with his nose under Ted’s arm, completely out of sight of Shotzie, who was facing the TV.  Ted’s toleration for big dogs took a giant leap that evening.

Bud was always serious about everything.  My mom said he looked “solemn” all the time.  He did have that expression, but he certainly knew that his life had taken a change for the better when he got to move inside and was given a big, stuffed, fleece-covered dog bed right next to ours in the bedroom.  He became my constant companion, and although at first he was left outside while Ted and I worked, it wasn’t long before he moved inside for good.  I don’t think he ever missed sleeping under the stars – or out in the rain and cold weather.  As soon as we’d start closing the house up for the night, he’d hightail it to the bedroom and curl up into as tight a knot as he could in his bed.  I always thought he was thinking “if I make myself really small, they won’t see me and put me outside”.

Unlike Bear, who spreads out against the couch or in the hall at night while we watch TV, Bud was always at my feet – usually on my feet.  He was friend to everyone and especially loved when the kids and grandchildren came.  I’d never heard of therapy dogs at that time – but he would have been perfect.

Matthew was a huge Bud fan, and vice-versa.

Bud was always a good sport about anything I asked him to do - including posing with a Halloween cat.

Ambling by Blair and Jason - on his way to my feet.

When we lost Shotzie – at the age of 15 – Bud was our only dog for a short time.  Then Miss Maddie arrived on the scene.  They took to each other right away and would often snuggle up to each other in the sun.  Maddie still does that today with Bear.

At the age of nine, Bud was diagnosed with diabetes.  When I asked what the prognosis was, our small, country town vet said, “Most folks just put them down when that’s the diagnosis.  Insulin shots are what’s needed to keep him going, and with those, he could live a pretty normal life for a lot of years.”

“Well, bring out the needles and the insulin, cause Bud’s not going anywhere.”  I replied.

For the next three years, I gave Bud two shots a day of insulin – one in the morning and one at night.  Ted, who wants no part of needles of any kind, learned to give them too –  for the few occasions I wasn’t home.  I’ve been known to leave many a party at the lake to go home to give an insulin shot when it was due.  Bud couldn’t have cared less about the shots.  When I’d go to the frig for the insulin bottle, he’d head over.  Then he’d sit with his shoulder up against my knee while I injected him.  He never flinched once.

White came in around his muzzle in his later years . . . . .

. . . . and that hip that had once stood up against a car fender began to develop arthritis. He took daily medication for that to keep him comfortable.

When Bud was eleven we a noticed a growth on one of his back legs, and tests showed it was malignant.  With his diabetes, the vet said she didn’t want to put him through a surgery, and neither did I.  It was not a particularly aggressive cancer, and he lived a little over a year after the diagnosis – and it was a good year – filled with some play, long walks and lots and lots of love.

When Bud’s time came, he left us as gently as he had lived his life with us.  He went to the Rainbow Bridge with his head in my lap and his face in my hands – both of us on the floor in the vet’s office.  Just one long sigh, and he was gone.

I know, after losing a pet, many folks wait a long time before bringing another four-legged creature into their homes.  Others never want another one, choosing instead to not go through the pain of that loss again.  Those decisions are right for those people.  But not for me. There’s a special part of my heart that can only be filled with a dog.  To not fill it is unfathomable to me.

A week after Bud died, I was looking for another dog.  My last big dog.  A Golden Retriever.  I was about to start the rescue process again when I found Bear on the Internet at a breeder near Atlanta.  We rode up the next day to see him and brought him back home with us.  He was 13 months old, and you all know the rest of that story.

Bear is a very special dog.  He is beautiful and smart and loving and giving.  But he came to us from a very good home where his owner doted on him, and – except for a crooked front tooth – he could have been a national champion like his father and mother.  Bud had very little in his former life – and he knew he had landed in doggie paradise.   He never stopped saying thank you, and one small part of my heart will forever belong to Bud – my trash can dog.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of Heaven is a place called The Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to The Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.  His bright eyes are intent.  His eager body quivers.  Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.  The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together . . .



  1. A beautiful tribute to Bud. I have sat and held my friend as she took her last breath. Her name was Veronica and not a dog but a cat. I miss her to this day. Thanks for sharing Bud with all of us.

  2. When I first seen the title and the picture of this blog, I thought you were gonna tell of Hershey’s misadventure!
    But as I read the story I came to see why HersheyBelle has such a special place in her Aunt Brenda’s heart.

    • Yep – chocolate labs melt my heart.

  3. You and Bud were blessed to have found each other. I had a rescue Russell for 12 years and we too were happy that the fates brought us together. He went to heaven in July of 2010, and our remaining gal (who will be 16 in February) misses him dearly still. They truly are one of the most pure of heart creatures on this earth

  4. Brenda,

    I don’t want to spoil such a beautiful blog by saying anything except thank you so much.

  5. Beautiful story! Made me teary eyed!!! Like you, I could never imagine not having a dog. All dogs are wonderful! But those we find, rescue and offer a better life to, are that much more wonderful to me! Their little grateful hearts rain love on you every day. Lucky Bud and lucky you 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing your story about Bud. A poem my grandmother always recited on the passing of a dog in the family:

    Those Hard Good-byes

    I explained to St. Peter,
    I’d rather stay here,
    Outside the pearly gate.

    I won’t be a nuisance,
    I won’t even bark,
    I’ll be very patient and wait,
    I’ll be here chewing on a celestial bone.

    No matter how long you may be.
    I’d miss you so much, if I went in alone,
    It wouldn’t be Heaven for me.


    • Billy Graham was once asked if he thought our pets would be waiting for us in Heaven. He replied that he believed “if God thought Heaven wouldn’t be complete for us without our beloved pets, then they will be there.”

  7. Your beautiful story about Bud -The Trash Can Dog, brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

  8. And Oscar is there with them…Oscar was a truly unique Dachsund….

    • Yes he was, Samille. I know how much you miss him.

  9. It is just a beautiful story. I always cry when I read the Rainbow Bridge poem. Bud had a wonderful life thanks to you, Ted, Maddie and even Shotzie.

  10. Yes, I know Bud had a wonderful life with you and your family & especially his wonderful friend, Shotzie. Just shed my first tears of the day. Wonderful story, wonderful, sweet, photos. We can change things while hubby is at work can’t we? I”m glad he did not take a chunk out of the couch the first time he was in the house!

  11. Crying at 5:49 in the morning was not what I expected when I got up today, but it happened nonetheless. Thank you so much for sharing Bud with us Brenda. I can’t believe how much he reminds me of Rocky who we had to put down 2 days after Christmas almost 3 years ago now. I still miss him so very miss. He was the best dog I ever had!

  12. Great story! Sometimes I think I love my dog more than my wife (ha,ha – just kidding!) We have 2 Westies, one of which is 15 years old and we know his time is not long off. He has been a wonderful dog. His legs don’t work like they used to, and now at night, he patiently waits for me by the steps to carry him up and put him on the bed. And in the morning, I carry him back down. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. He is still a happy dog, even though he is about 98% deaf. There is something about that unconditional love that they give back that you just can’t get enough of!

  13. I am sitting in a hotel room in Atlanta ready to fly back home to Iowa and I am crying so much that I need to redo my makeup. When I get home I will get a big hug from my husband and a big doggy kiss from our collie/german shepard mix dog whose name is Bear. Nothing better than Bear kisses!

    • Awww . . . . so sorry about the makeup, Yvonne. Safe travels back home, and give your Bear a big hug from another Bear-lover.

  14. What a lovely story- Bud was lucky to have you and you were lucky to have him. This reminds me of my Taz-lost him 4 years ago to cancer and old age. He wasn’t the smartest dog but he had a huge, huge heart. I always cry when I read the Rainbow Bridge poem too-but it makes me feel good to think that we’ll all be together with our beloved animals someday… Thanks Brenda.

  15. I also didn’t expect to start my day crying, yet here I am doing just that. Thanks for the great tribute story and poem. I’ve only had 2 dogs in my life and I can’t imagine a day without their special kind of love.

  16. I should not have read this at school (it’s recess time), as I now have 26 third-graders asking me why I’m crying! This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Those of us who feel this way about cats and dogs can’t understand how anyone is immune to a pet’s wonderful love. Have you ever read ‘The Good, Good Pig’? Its full title is that plus ‘The extraordinary life of Christopher Hogwood’ by Sy Montgomery. It’s about a runt piglet she rescues, and so much more. I think you’d like it! Easy read. Warning – you’ll learn a LOT about pigs, and never look at them the same way again (which could be hard for any pork lover. . . .) As always, good column!

  18. Bud was so special and it was impossible not to see the adoration in his eyes when he looked at you. He was the perfect dog….always quietly attentive but never pushy. I fell in love with him, too. One of my fondest memories is of him chasing a ball in the back yard. He was looking backward and didn’t see me as he was planning his recovery. When we collided, it was like being hit by a linebacker and I was relocated about a yard from where I had been standing. He came over and snuffeled me as if to say “sorry ’bout that. We ok here?” I have tears remembering him but am so glad he was in your life.

    • Oh my gosh – I had forgotten that Cathy! The look on YOUR face was priceless!

  19. Thank you for sharing Bud’s story. We share the chocolate lab (Buzz at 3) and the doxie (Chilidawg at 11.5 years) and hope that they live forever… but I know better so I try to enjoy each day we have (along with Schlomo the corgi 13.5 years and Otter the schip 9 years). Thank you for sharing and happiest of holidays!

  20. Ok girl, you did it again…tears streaming down my face…we had a black lab, that was a stray, He was with us till the grand old age of 14….miss him so much…his name was “Chainsaw”…anyone that had or has labs can just imagine where he got that name…..

    You need to write a short stories book, i will be the first in line…you and Ted and your family have a wonderful Christmas, keep writing…love to you all.

    • Hmmmm . . . a book of short stories . . . .

  21. Great story Brenda. Chloe is starting to get that white face just like Bud’s. Chocolate Labs are the best. (Is there a Rainbow Bridge for cats too? If so, I have 7 waiting for me.)

    • Absolutely – all pets, Joan!

  22. I have tears in my ears reading about Bud’s story. I’m so glad for the precious years you were able to have with him in your lives. Happy Tuesday!

  23. So beautiful! I would say more but the tears are flowing as I remember my lost special buddy Sebastian. I lost him to old age three years ago.

  24. Me too…tears are flowing just because I can relate to the story. The loss of a pet and the deep hurt we feel when we lose them. We waited 3 years to get another dog & our dog now also went to “doggie heaven” when she came to live with us. Also had heartworms when we got her (a 2 yr. old german shepard). She belonged to my stepson who moved and couldn’t take her with him. He didn’t have the money or time to really spoil her and had her in a small pen most of the time. Boy, is she spoiled now! It’s hard to believe there are people out there that just abandon their pets….but they must be people that look at them as just a dog and not a family member. I pity those kinds of people.

  25. Our family is a lab family. Between all of us, we’ve had 5 labs (4 black, 1 yellow).

    My dad who had limited sight and liver cancer, decided a few years back that he wanted a dog again. After going years without one, he was determined to have another dog to love in his life. He answered an ad in the paper for a very young, yellow, female lab.

    He went to pick her up and the people who had her said she was a bad girl, wasn’t housebroken, etc, etc. The owners worked long hours and their mother came to let the dog out once a day, other than that, was alone all day. My dad was instantly in love – and Chancey instantly loved my dad. When he told her to jump in the truck, she more than happily came with him.

    She got to her new home, sniffed around, had one accident in the house and never had another one. I think she needed to know that my dad and mom would always be there for her and all she had to do was let them know what she needed and she’d have it (and then some as my dad fattened the girl up over time!)

    My dear dad passed away a few years ago and little Chancey girl stepped up to the plate. Now, we realize, that dog was a gift for my mom from my dad. Chancey girl has taken over a place in my mom’s heart and has helped to heal her after my dad’s death.

    I can’t say enough about this breed of dog. Once a lab lover, always a lab lover! These animals are a warm and always welcoming companion, so expressive, completely devoted and loyal to anyone who loves them, and they have the softest ears you’ve ever felt.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    • What a wonderful and heart-warming story, Andrea. Thank YOU for sharing it with all of us.

  26. Wow, what a great story. Thank you!

  27. Bud,Bear, and little Maddie are very fortunate to have a mom and dad like you. Animals add so much to our lives. My Izzie Marie is one such animal. I lost my first kitty, January 2010. One week later, I adopted Izzie from our local animal shelter. She has turned out to be one of the best things I have ever had happen in my life. She also won the heart of my dear father. I swear they would all their days together, if only my mother would let that happen. Warm Regards, Jennifer and Izzie Marie.

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