If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have an inkling of my love and adoration for my big, handsome, red pit bull/mastiff mix, Buster. Today, I feel inspired to share with you the story of Buster and the greater role he plays in my world. To tell his story, I have to go back into my story just a bit. Please bear with me. In 2006, I lost my dad to soft tissue sarcoma. My dad had a love/hate relationship with his rescued West Highland Terrier, Wally. On one hand, he thought Wally, with his big, bad-ass dog attitude, was the coolest dog around.
On the other hand, my dad found Walter's obstinate streak and propensity to roll in green goose poop frustrating. Walter and I always hit it off. When my dad passed away, my mom decided she would "get rid of Walter." Why, I don't know. However, I did know Walter was not leaving this family. So, Wally came to live with me. I had thirteen wonderful years with Walter. He was my boy, my great protector. In my book, Walter was the bee's knees. He was one last living connection to my dad.
In 2019, our world imploded. We suffered an unthinkable betrayal. While reeling from this devastation, my Walter, who at age 16, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. This was an insult to injury. To say I was not doing well is an understatement. I was going through the motions of living, but emotionally and mentally, I felt shut down and numb. When Walter passed, Eric, being the kind, loving man he is, offered to get me another dog. I know his intentions were good. I know he thought it would help me heal and feel better. However, I was not ready to move on from any of the losses we had suffered. I responded rather tersely that I would tell Eric when I was ready for another dog. He was not to surprise me, force me, or bring one home. I would decide when I was prepared to move on. With that, the subject was dropped.
In that time, we talked a lot about creating safety and security for our family. We discussed and implemented security measures all around the farm. We discussed and created a plan of action for various dangerous scenarios. I know now this stemmed from our feelings of betrayal, feeling violated, and feeling out of control. One of Eric's suggestions was to adopt a Mastiff because they have a reputation for being loyal, protective, and fiercely devoted to their family. Protecting our family was of the utmost importance. I told Eric I thought adopting a Mastiff was a good idea at some point, but I was not ready to take on a new dog just yet. He understood and dropped the topic.
Fast forward a month later. Walter had been gone a mere month. I was grieving him and, in a way, grieving my lost last connection to my dad. Our family was dealing with issues we could have never imagined possible. At that time, I had been avoiding social media. Circling the wagons and staying to ourselves seemed like the safest, most secure, and protective option. Frankly, I did not care what was going on in the world. My world was a wreck, and I was trying to clean up the aftermath. My first click on Facebook prompted a post from the Humane Society. I did not follow the Humane Society at the time. I had never seen a prompt from them before. However, sitting looking back at me was an image of a beautiful, huge, red dog with a massive head, intelligent eyes, and a proud demeanor. I looked, I paused, and I kept scrolling.
Later that day, I logged onto Facebook. Again, the first image to appear was from the Humane Society of this big, beautiful red dog with a massive head and impressively intelligent eyes. I looked, paused, scrolled, and then scrolled back to the image of the big red dog. I clicked on his profile. They were calling him Turner. They believed him to be a pit bull/Mastiff mix about a year old. My first thought was he doesn't look like a Turner. His profile was limited. It read that he was not food aggressive, was a volunteer favorite, and was good with kids and other dogs, but cats were unknown. I clicked off and continued to scroll.
The next day, I logged onto Facebook and guess who was the first image to appear. It dawned on me that this was odd, considering I don't follow the Humane Society. I mentioned the dog and the image to Eric. He responded, "We aren't ready for another dog, right?" I confirmed his thoughts and put the idea aside. Later that day, Eric asked to see the picture of the dog. It never happens; when one wants to find an image on Facebook, one has to dig deep into the archives of millions of posts, but his time, the image was right there. That big, beautiful head with those intelligent, piercing eyes was looking back at me. I showed the picture to Eric. He commented on what a handsome boy he was, read his profile, thought briefly, and then said, "No, not right now."
Over the course of a few days, this image repeatedly popped up on Facebook. I mentioned the big red dog to Eric again. The big red dog called Turner was in the back of my mind like a niggling idea trying to make its way to the forefront. This was on a Friday. On Saturday night, we were sitting on the porch. Eric told me, "I can't get that big red dog out of my head." I responded, "I know, me too." Eric asked if I wanted to go and meet the dog tomorrow. I said it's Sunday; I don't think they are open on Sundays. I Googled it; the Humane Society had limited hours on Sunday. I firmly stated, "WE ARE JUST LOOKING. We are not coming home with a dog because we feel bad, and it needs a home. We are in the situation we are in because of this mentality. We are going to be careful, think, and be honest." Eric said, "Agreed."
On Sunday, I called the Humane Society and inquired about Turner. The volunteer was rather abrupt on the phone and said, "If you're interested, just come meet him." Well, alright then! I got off the phone, shared the conversation with Eric, and then it was time to share our idea with The Bean. When we told her about the dog and showed her the picture, which again was the first image on Facebook, she squealed, clapped, and did her funny little foot-pounding dance. We told her to take a minute, calm down, and understand this did not mean we would come home with a dog. We emphasized we were merely going to meet him and inquire about him. If he were not a good fit for our family, we would be honest about it and walk away. The Bean said she understood but, under her breath, said, "We're getting a dog!" I gave her the stink eye, and she laughed.
We got ready for the day, got in the car, and drove to the Humane Society. When we arrived, a volunteer greeted us, called for another volunteer to show us Turner, and we entered the kennel area. The sound of barking, baying, and whining dogs was deafening and overwhelming. We saw dogs of every breed, mix, size, age, and color. Some were excited and boisterous. Others seemed resigned to their fate of kennel life. Amid all the chaos, there stood a huge, calm, regal red dog with a block of a head, an intimidating mouth full of teeth, and the most intelligent, humor-filled eyes I had ever seen. I was smitten. The volunteer put a leash on him and walked him to the dog yard. The dog did not pull or demonstrate any rambunctious excitement. He was dignified and intelligent. He stood for the volunteer and let him pet him. He was cautious with us, as we were him. We moved slowly, talked quietly, and asked the volunteer questions. We learned this big, handsome red boy was found as a stray in Blairsville. He showed signs of being worked with by someone. Someone had loved him. The volunteer said, "He's a good one. Not all of them are like him. He'd make you a wonderful dog." I could not have agreed more.
Turner responded well to Jordan. He wagged his tail and was taken with her instantly. Eric tested Turner's level of patience. He stuck his fingers in his ears, pulled his tail, picked up his feet, and stuck his fingers in his mouth. Turner's response was calm, if mildly annoyed and confused. The volunteer then suggested I take him for a walk by myself. I thought this an odd request, but I did it. He stayed close to me as we walked around the yard, up a steep hill, and back to the kennel. Eric and I locked eyes, and Eric said, "We found our next dog, didn't we?" I quietly responded, "Yeah, definitely."
We did the necessary paperwork, paid the adoption fee, and before we knew it, we had this massive red dog in the back of our car. He did not stay in the back long. Within seconds, he was trying to sit on Jordan's lap. As she laughed, I looked back and saw sheer joy in his eyes, and if a dog can smile, this one was smiling from ear to ear. We walked our new friend around the house, farm, and barn when we got home. I talked to him the entire time, and I could swear he understood every word I said. He has a way of staring at you that feels like he can see your very soul. We have been inseparable ever since.
It took me a few days to find the right name for him. I tried them all. I am not kidding when I say he had an active role in his naming. Some names he ignored. I got the side eye for other names like, "You're kidding me, right?" Still others, I swear, were considered but eventually rejected. When he got a little mouthy taking a treat, I said, "Okay, Buster Brown, take it easy!" He looked at me as if to say, "Finally, you nailed it!" I repeated Buster over and over again, and I swear he smiled and then wagged his tail. Buster, it is!
Buster has been a God-send in every sense of the phrase. You may mock me or think I am crazy, but I genuinely believe higher powers brought this dog into our lives. I have since joined the Humane Society's Facebook page, and not once has another image randomly appeared from them, let alone multiple times. Buster has forced me to walk at least a mile daily, which helps my arthritis, weight management, and mental health. He is a source of friendship and comfort when I need it most. He makes us feel safe and protected. Buster hates young men and has to be restrained when one comes near; that adds to our level of protection. He adds humor to our lives. His antics are over the top, and his absolute joy in daily life is contagious. I know, this big, handsome red boy with an intimidating growl and a mouth full of teeth always has us in his sights and is willing to die for us.
Most importantly, he restored my faith in good things. He has shown me that not all good deeds are punished. Buster has reminded me that kindness is not a weakness and that love given freely is not a waste. He restored hope for me when I thought all was lost. Buster brought me light when the world and everyone in it felt like they were against us, and all was dark. I know, dear reader, that's a pretty tall order for a dog to fill. However, this guy, this big red stray who was discarded and thrown away, he is an angel wearing a fur coat. Albeit a naughty angel who sits on tables and spite poops in one's room when crossed, I will always believe he was sent to me for a purpose from a higher being. God knows exactly what we need when we need it, even if it is a goofy red dog with anal gland issues that loves Ranger rides, long walks, and couch cuddles. Never underestimate the powers that be. Miracles happen in the strangest, smallest ways. Every creature on this earth is here for a purpose, has a soul, and has the capacity to feel the full range of emotions.
The next time you consider taking your bad day out on your pets, ignore their requests for the very basics in life like food, water, shelter, and care; remember they are creatures made by The Great One. To do them wrong is to do wrong by Him. Miracles come in all forms. Don't abuse and neglect your gift.
That, dear reader, is the story of my dog. That is how I truly see my boy. This is the reason he has my undying devotion. He is my miracle worker. He has been my guide back to the light. He is a gift from the Higher Power, and I will cherish him for as long as I am blessed with his presence. When humans fail me, and they have at so many levels, animals, especially a big red dog, have shown me the goodness I need to see to go on. Stay safe, be smart, cherish your small miracles, be a decent human, and keep washing your hands.