As far as I was concerned, there could have been no finer creature than Buster. He was the best dog in the world. He was a personality more charming than Alf. He was my shadow, my pride, the sponge of all my free time. And I was to him, the finest owner a dog could ever have. His loving gaze and infinite patience in waiting for me for hours clearly indicated his feelings. Our bond was as strong as Gorilla Glue. Whenever we had the choice we would be together.
Buster got diagnosed with a serious lung cancer after eight years of being my best dog friend. He was dying. I reeled and reacted to the news no differently than if he'd been an important human member of my family. Upon returning from the vet's office, I sat on the basement steps and told Tom the news. We sat in the basement in shock and sadness for more than an hour.
We decided against heroic efforts. Buster would not understand the side effects from chemo therapy. These efforts had no guarantees of helping and would have only prolonged his life but a few months. Instead we decided to try to just make him comfortable, stick has much as possible to our normal life. We would walk with him when he could and sit about with him when he couldn't. I talked with the vet a few times and read up on his illness. The vet said we would know when to put him down.
That day came, not long after, on a Saturday in New Hampshire. Buster had stopped eating. His eyes and tongue were purplish – a clear sign that he was no longer getting enough oxygen. It was time to help him on his way.
Tom and I took him to a nearby vet. We were not near our own vet. The new vet was very kind. He looked Buster over and agreed that we were making the only humane decision.
We held on to Buster as the vet injected the drugs that would stop his heart and abruptly end his life. We both had a hold of his paw and I was hugging him. When he died there was a jolt of energy. Tom felt it as a shock to his hand. I felt a surge of energy leave Buster. There was a strange almost electrical smell in the air. Tom and I both smelled it. Then I felt Buster's body go limp in my arms. An overwhelming sadness took hold. Buster was gone. I had lost the world I knew. He had meant so much to me. How was I to be without him?
We put Buster in the pine box Tom had made for him and went home. We had carried the box around on the roof of the Subaru like a home made roof box. We did not know when we would be needing it so we had strapped it on the roof to be sure we had it when we did.
When we got home we left Buster in the back of the Subaru in his pine box. We went in to the house, sat on the couch and cried through a roll of toilet paper. Then we got up, drove the car with Buster in it up to the place that would be his grave site. We got a shovel each and dug at Buster's grave till dark. Exhausted, sad and with an unfinished grave, we quit for the night. We left Buster in his box in the car for the night and walked back to the house.
Buster was a big dog. His pine box was 2 feet wide and 4 feet long. We needed the hole to be 6 feet deep. The next day, a Sunday, we got up early and resumed digging until we had a hole of almost the right dimension. We had to quit a little before 6 feet down as we started to see water in the hole.
To pass the time digging we listened to the car radio. It was NPR and we were listening to Car Talk. After getting the hole dug we carried Buster's box to the edge of the grave. Tom rigged some ropes around the box so we could belay the box into the hole.
Then began a series of coincidences I shall never forget. The day had been overcast and dark. At the moment we started lowering Buster into the hole, the sky began to brighten. I heard the announcer on the car radio say, “we shall now play Queen Mary's Funeral March.” As we lowered Buster's box the radio speakers blared out the solum funeral march. When the coffin hit the bottom of the grave the doors to the church across the street opened and the bells started ringing “Dong, Dong, Dong”. The sun burst from behind the clouds and the rays shone down in the field where we were standing. It was the kind of pomp the world's best dog deserved at his funeral.