Joe's Friend, Buddy

     Joe was born in February of 1992, and was the “apple of his Grandfather and Grandmother's eye”, being the only grandchild! We often called him the Prince, as he was treated like royalty! He meant everything to his grandparents and spent hours and hours with them, all of them enjoying each others company.
     Grandpa became ill when Joe was about 5 years old but he always had time for Joe. In April 2000, after a struggle with poor health for a good 3 years, Joe's grandpa died. He was so sad, but so happy to still have a healthy, happy grandma! Believe it or not, almost a year after grandpa died, grandma got lung cancer that had also went to her brain. Joe is a smart child—he knew what that meant! He is also a worrier and started to worry about not having Grandma!
     Grandma was the best—she could play small soldiers with the best of them and listened to every story Joe told over and over. She let him cook his own version of soup and she even ate it! She took him to McDonald's and often shopped for “little prizes”. She went on vacation with them. She lived only 3 blocks from Joe and he could scoot over there after school until we got out of work.
     She started to fail slowly and had many bouts of illness from her chemotherapy and radiation. She often had complications and had to be hospitalized. Joe was already missing her. He still had his parents to talk with, but they were always so busy. His friends were over often, but it just wasn't the same—a guy has to have someone he can just talk too and not share things with.
     Six months into Grandma's illness, Joe's Mom met a lady who had two Golden Retrievers and they were about to have a litter—in fact they did have a fine litter of 12 pups! They were so cute, but unfortunately they were all spoken for. One of the girls I worked with told the owner that Joe was an only child, with an ill Grandparent, and she decided then and there that Joe was to come and pick out a puppy.
     It was a cold April afternoon, and I picked up Joe after school and went to pick out our puppy. We went out into the back yard and in the warm garage there was a heap of fur on the floor. Jeannine called “puppies” in a high voice and they all tumbled out, tripping and falling all over each other. Joe was so happy. He liked them all but knew he could only take one. He narrowed it down to two, but seemed to favor the lighter one. We were to come back in two weeks and pick him up.
     The two weeks dragged on and on. Joe was so excited. It was Saturday morning and Joe and his Dad and I went to pick up our pup. When we arrived there were two puppies left, the two Joe had favored. He sat on the floor and the light one ran right away to him. You could see they were meant for each other. He said I will take Buddy. Jeannine said, he doesn't have a name, and Joe said “oh yes he does, I've named him Buddy!” So off the four of us went.
     It was the best thing that could happen to Joe. Buddy was so energetic and could make you laugh. I was often involved in taking care of my Mom, and Buddy was there to keep Joe occupied. Joe taught him tricks and was so proud when he could show them to Grandma. I would hear him talking to Buddy about loosing Grandpa and pretty soon Grandma and they would lie together and just “be friends!” Buddy grew and I would hear “ya hoo” coming down the hall and there would be Joe riding Buddy and Buddy's tail just a wagging!
     The snow came and they played outside together. Everyday Buddy would be at the big bay window waiting for Joe to walk home form school—they missed each other during the day! Joe takes cold lunch and always saves his crust for Buddy, who waits patiently to gobble it up. They are pals.
     Summer came and so did the end of Grandma's life, she died on the 4th of July. Buddy was there for Joe and still is. They are the best of friends and spend lots of time together. I truly believe Buddy helped Joe with the death and departure of his beloved Grandparents. They are so happy together and I often hear Joe telling Buddy “you are my best friend.” All the children at school know Buddy and they all like to see him, but it is always Joe he turns to in the end.
     Joe and Buddy are good for each other—they both have lots of love to give and love to give it to each other. I have had many dogs, but Buddy is the best dog I have ever had—he is so loving and smart and it seems like he knows when he is needed the most. What a wonderful day it was when we picked up Buddy!

Entry written by Ruth Kluetz of Marinette, WI
* Honorable Mention Award Recipient

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