We got Buttons a little over 14 years ago, my wonderful brother sent up a puppy for the kids to 'play' with. We didn't want a collie/retriever cross puppy, we weren't sure what breed but really weren't ready for a puppy quite yet. We had lost our other old dog a week after we moved to Bismarck, he had a heart attack. Thumper was enough at the time. But just as we were handing this little black puppy back to my little brother who had brought her up, our 9 year old daughter starting crying and said, "You can send her back if you want but she's the best friend I've ever had!" My husband and I looked at each other and took her back and handed her to our daughter. We never regretted it.
Buttons was the alarm clock who got our son up; he hated to get out of bed. All I had to do is send her downstairs, she got him up. She pulled our daughter on her sled...backwards with the rope in her mouth. She went on long horse rides with us and lite up our lives wanting to play tug. When Thumper died unexpectedly at age 8, Buttons 3 at the time, cried while we buried her, she stood by the hole and kept wiping her eyes with her legs. She mourned with us, she would crawl up on the Lazy Boy with me and lay on me, her head on my shoulder. She weighed about 100 pounds. I think it was that point she befriended the cats and became their friend. All cats still love her and will miss her too.
3 years ago I knew her time was limited, she had slowed down. At that point we all tried to talk DH into getting a puppy for her to train in since we thought we wouldn't have her that long. Finally we rescued Doogan and she perked up and seemed to get better. We started taking long walks again (the puppy demanded it) and she got healthier. We were sure she would have to be put down last fall but kept going and at Christmas with the kids home she seemed happy as ever. I think that added a few months to her life.
But all good things come to an end. She gave us so much joy and it was time to say goodbye. We will miss her but have to remember the good times she gave us. Goodbye Buttons my friend, say hi to Thumper.
Drawing at top by Erica Vojnich
One last word of farewell, dear master and mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: "Here lies one who loves us and whom we loved." No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.