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When Love Crossed The Rainbow Bridge

A Tribute To A Life Transformed

By Lois CPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 18 min read
Top Story - August 2023

July 10, 2023, I had woken up around 4:00am to the sound of my dog, Buddy, panting in the darkness. He wasn’t looking good when we went to sleep a few hours prior. I had leaned in close, whispered I love you in his ear, as I had done countless times, and tried to get some sleep. Part of me believed, or at least wanted to believe, that would be better in the morning. Deep down, I knew he was slipping away. I selfishly wanted one more night with him cuddled up beside me. A decision I deeply regretted, as the realization that he was in pain cut through me like a dagger. I had been there for him through so many challenges in his life. I knew it was time to help him pass through his last hurdle. It was time to let him go. This is a decision that every pet owner inevitably faces, one that I would have given anything to avoid. There was no avoiding this. I knew if I didn’t get him to the hospital soon, he would continue to spiral downward in front of me. I loved him too much to allow that to happen.

The ride from my house to the emergency veterinary hospital was only about fifteen minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Buddy was weak. He would attempt to pull himself up to a sitting position, only to collapse into my lap. I did my best to comfort him and get him to be still. When we reached the hospital, he needed to be carried in. He was limp, almost lifeless. My heart was breaking. The vet was amazing, taking time to get his history and explain everything that would happen during the procedure. When the time came, I leaned in close to him, holding his head in my hands. I said, “I love you Buddy." "It’s okay." "You’re not going alone, a part of me is going with you.” I repeated these phrases over and over until she said, “he’s gone.” It’s a moment that will stay with me forever.

There was a special bond between Buddy and I that I haven't experienced with any other animal. He wasn't merely a pet; he was my furry son. In his absence, I'm struggling with the overwhelming sense of loss that I can only describe as a soul ache. Buddy had a long and good life of fourteen years. Still, the end came too quickly for me, I wanted more time with him. I invite you to join me as I retell his journey, relive the memories, and bid farewell to my soul friend.

The greatest gift I have ever received is the unconditional love and trust of my dog. Buddy, formerly known as Rogue, entered my life on Sunday June 3, 2012. I had been looking for a dog for some time. I wasn’t partial to a particular breed, age, or sex. I just hadn't found the right match for me. Since I was running a pet care business, it was essential that any dog I took home would get along well with other dogs. The other requirement was that whoever I adopted would get along with my cat at home, who had a punky dog-like temperament. The staff person at Baypath Humane Society thought Buddy would be a great fit. She led me to the outdoor enclosure. Buddy stopped playing the moment he saw me, and came bounding up to the fence. His eyes met mine with an expression that seemed to say. You're the one I've been looking for! I called you and you came. His body was thin and frail, but his eyes were clear and bright. Whatever journey had led him to Massachusetts had not broken his spirit. The shelter staff didn’t have any history on him, only that he was a stray. I would later learn from the person who facilitated his rescue in Kentucky that Buddy was on a short list of dogs to be euthanized. This is an unfortunate reality for many dogs.

Buddy a few days after coming home

Peek A Boo

The adjustment period when you bring a new dog home is interesting. Buddy was a hypervigilant, anxious soul. I lived in Chelsea, MA at the time, a densely populated city just outside of Boston. Buddy was a Kentucky country boy, so getting him used to city living was going to be a challenge. He was so fearful of strangers that he would either pull with all his might to get back home to safety, or hide behind me; pressing his body hard up against mine. He would shake violently, causing my legs to vibrate. This made walking him in my neighborhood impossible. For the first month, we would run from the building to the car, and I would drive him up to the park so he could get some outdoor time. He loved the park, so I used it as a training opportunity. We would go up with treats and practice letting people walk or run past us. At first it was really short training periods. He was terrified of men running towards him. Some days he only lasted a few minutes before pulling me to get back to the car. If I'm honest, there were moments when I wondered if the best way to help would be to return him to Baypath, so they could find him a quieter suburban life. What gave me hope was Buddy seemed comfortable in his home, and fell in love with my cat Phoenix immediately. Although, he sometimes had odd ways of showing it.

Phoenix never understood the head in the mouth thing, but he wasn't bothered by Buddy's unique displays of affection. I was never concerned Buddy would harm him, it was a true bromance between them. Phoenix identified as a dog, and played a big role in helping Buddy adjust to his new life. He would hang out with him in his crate and cuddle up next to Buddy whenever he sensed Buddy needed a little extra comfort. Unfortunately, Phoenix's desire to be outside and explore led to his demise in 2019. Buddy looked around the house for his cat for the longest time. He grieved for him, and helped me through my grief. Animals have the same feelings and emotions that we have, they just don't have the language to express it.

Buddy was a Redbone Coonhound, they are supposed to be a hunting dog. He apparently didn't get that memo. He was the only dog I have ever known who didn't react to small scurrying animals. He would see them while out on hikes, but he showed no interest in chasing them. If he was around other dogs and they were barking or chasing, he would join in. I don't think he knew what all the excitement was about, he was just happy to be included. One day, he walked past a skunk. Since he didn't care about the skunk, the skunk didn't care about him, so nothing happened. It was a doggie miracle. Buddy's oblivion to small creatures gave me a clue into his past. Coonhounds in Kentucky are used as a tool for hunting. If they aren't expert hunters, they are often abandoned. I think this was the case with Buddy. His lack of interest in scurrying animals was good news for me, however. It meant I could work with him on being off leash on hikes. I started with a long lead, giving him more space. Whenever he was unsure, he would look back to see where I was. Even as his confidence grew, he was never far out of my sight. By September, I knew it was time to let go of the end of the leash, but I wanted to do it in a safe area. I took him out to Deer Island in Winthrop, MA. There was a small beachy area out by the harbor walk. It was his first time seeing a beach.

"A picture is worth a thousand words." ~Fred R. Bernard. This moment sparked a lifelong love of the beach. The beach was his happy place, especially when we lived in Maine for a few years. The beaches are much more dog friendly than here in Massachusetts. He knew the exact route to his favorite spots would stick his head out the car window and bay loud and proud all the way. As much as he loved the beach, he hated the water. He had webbed paws, so I thought he would take to the water. Nope, not even a little. He liked the idea of it, I think. If he saw his friends in the water splashing around, he would want to join in, but he hated being wet. He would run back and forth along the beach, baying for them to come out of the water and join him on the safety of dry land. He loved everything else about the beach, though. He loved the sand and the scents. Eating shells, which I called dog sushi. I used to worry that this delicacy might cause a problem, but thankfully it never did. The best part of being off leach for Buddy was the running. In his younger days, he could run like the wind. I loved nothing more than watching him fly down the beach or through the woods with those long ears flapping.

Buddy was making steady progress in his adjustment to his new life. After about six months, he finally felt comfortable in his own skin. A year later, he was almost a completely different dog. He was no longer afraid of men or meeting new people. He greeted strangers with his loud Coonhound bay, and it was fantastic. Buddy's volume settings were limited to loud and louder. Tossing his head back towards the sky, he would release a long, soulful sound. I'd do anything to hear that sound again.

Singing The Song Of My People

It made my heart happy to see him flourish. Life was a bit roller coaster for Buddy. Seeing him come out the other side was rewarding, to say the least. He was truly happy. Our relationship had changed as well. I loved him from day one, but now I could no longer imagine life without him. Buddy made friends, practiced running, and even experienced a little Karma through his friend Falkor.

Buddy head Karma

wooo hooo

Excuse Me, That's My Ball

The highlight of many summer weekends was visiting my sister's camp in Maine. He loved going to camp, perhaps even more than the beach. Even in his old age, he would perk up when we got off the highway, stick his head out the window and bay all the way until we finally arrived. Hanging out by the fire at night and digging holes under her picnic table during the day were his favorite pastimes. My sister didn’t love this, but I thought it was pretty smart of him, shelter from the sun with the table above him, and the cool earth beneath him creating natural A/ C. He always denied any knowledge of any hole.

The time we spent in Maine was very special to him. If there was a tennis ball or two involved, that made the visits to camp all the more special. No visit would be complete without a few visits to Guild Park, which wasn't far from camp. It's a small nature preserve, maybe 15 acres, with a trail that just loops around. I never figured out why Buddy loved it so much, but he would hardly wait to get out of the car when we pulled up. I would open the door and see a red flash go by me.

Guild Park

In 2015, we took the most epic adventure of both of our lives, a six month road trip. We started in Maine, ultimately traveling as far as British Columbia in 2006 Ford F-350 and a truck camper. It was a bittersweet journey, because the money I received from my mother's estate helped to fund the trip. Her sudden passing had prompted me to reevaluate everything in my life. There were more practical decisions I could have made at the time, but I knew this opportunity might not come this way again. After a period of preparation and planning, we loaded up and departed in October of 2015.

The first week or so on the road was hard. He always loved going for rides and road trips, so I thought the transition to full time travel would be seamless. The problem was the bed area of the camper hung over the cab of the truck. Whenever I drove over any bump, it would either scrape the top of the cab, or slam into it. The sound of the camper hitting the top of the cab terrified Buddy. To the point that he dove under my legs while I was driving a few times, attempting to hide. Thankfully, I was able to pull over to the side of the road both times without incident. His anxiety sent me into a tailspin of "what if" that plagued my brain. What if this was a huge mistake? What if I can't sell the truck and camper? It was early November, not exactly the time of year people are looking to buy a camper. What if I can't find a new place to live? What if I look like a fool? I made myself a deal. I would give it a month, and if I hated it, or Buddy was still having a hard time. I would head home. It didn't take that long for Buddy to settle into the travel life. Although he never really got used to the sound of the camper on the truck. He accepted it as part of the journey to some awesome adventures. I am so thankful that I didn't give in to the "what if's.", because this incredible journey created memories that will last a lifetime. When I'm an old woman, I'll be entertaining people telling them stories of the time I drove across the country with my dog and my punky cat, who enjoyed the trip as much as everyone else did. In fact, Phoenix decided early on he wasn't going to be confined to the camper the whole time. He would find an opportunity to escape at each campground. The first time this occurred, I thought he was gone for good. He would explore the campground, visit the other campers, and when he was satisfied with his expeditions, he would come sauntering back to our camper.


Buddy enjoyed the beaches of the Outter Banks of North Carolina. The highlight for both of us was driving out onto Corolla Beach, which I quickly learned is pronounced Kor-ralla not Carolla like the Toyota car. Buddy loved riding on the beach with his head out the window and those long ears flopping in the breeze. We were lucky to see the wild horses on the beach. Buddy didn't know what to make of them, but thought they were fascinating. From there, we headed to Edisto Island, South Carolina, where we had an amazing spot close to the beach

In Texas, he experienced cattle for the first time. The campground we were staying at was next to a farm. We would see them out grazing when we were out on a walk around the campground. Buddy surprisingly wasn't afraid of them, more curious than anything. He would stand near the fence and tilt his head back and forth in an inquisitive manner. The cattle didn't seem fazed either, they would just stand at the fence staring at Buddy. Probably trying to figure out if he was some weird looking cow.

Another memorable stop was Sedona, Arizona. There are no words for the beauty of that place, with its majestic red rocks and breathtaking hikes. It was a stressful stay, because the owner made it clear if Buddy made any noise, that we would have to leave immediately. They not only verbally told me they had it in writing circled with red ink on the paperwork I was given when I checked in. Not exactly the pet friendly place it was advertised as. Thankfully, Buddy was always a quiet dog when he was indoors. There would be no fires, no exploring the campground. We were up and out in the morning, and Buddy did his best to blend into his surroundings.

Red Rocks, Red Dog

I was tired of being land locked, so from Sedona we headed to California. Our first stop was in Pismo Beach, which we loved. It was at this point we picked up coastal route 1. This is a drive everyone should do at least once in their lives. The drive through Big Sur, California is an epic drive with the scenic views as the highway curves its way through the hillside. Driving a truck through Big Sur with a camper on the back is not for the faint of heart. It was one of the few times I got nervous driving. There are so many areas to pull over and take in the views that we made a full day of it. We followed the trail down the side of Ragged Point. This short hike zigzags its way down the side of the 300 foot cliff. I didn't want Buddy pulling me, and I didn't want him off leash either, so I walked in front of him on the way down. He was so eager to explore that he pushed me along from behind, nearly taking me off my feet a few times. The reward when you get to the bottom is this beautiful cove. We had that spot to ourselves and spent the better part of the afternoon just soaking up the sun.

Buddy and I loved the west coast vibe. In Newport, Oregon, Buddy discovered Sea Lions. They barked, he bayed. They were his nautical soulmates. The beaches along the Oregon coast were among his favorite places. I actually considered settling in Oregon, but the heart strings were pulling me home. We eventually made our way back across the states and lived in Maine for a few years. In 2021, I moved back to Massachusetts. Unfortunately, I lost my external storage drive of our time on the road, but the following two photos captured some of my favorite moments.

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Buddy was a unique dog in so many ways. I can't end this story without sharing one of his more endearing and sometimes embarrassing quirks. Buddy had a way of letting everyone know he was happy with random and full erections throughout his life. This was a surprise to me, as he was neutered, so I didn't think that was possible. Car rides, the beach, camp fires, sometimes for seemingly no reason at all. It would pop out and stay out for a long time. Later in life, it most often happened with food and treats. If I had a dime for every time I said "Buddy, put your penis away." I would be a wealthy woman.

Writing this story has been cathartic, and made me laugh more than it made me cry. I hope reading it was the same for you. I miss my dog, and I think part of me always will. I have heard that animals come into our lives to teach us something. Buddy taught me how to love someone more than myself. His passing showed me that I had the courage to commit the ultimate act of compassion in the face of my own breaking heart. I know I will adopt another dog when the time is right. I need time to heal first.

If you yourself are an animal lover, I have a few favors to ask of you. First, if you are thinking of adopting, please check out the adoptable dogs and cats available at Baypath Humane Society. Tell them Buddy sent you. Second, if you got anything out of this story, please share it, and ask your contacts to share as well. If you are able to make a donation in Buddy's memory, I would appreciate it. The need is great in Massachusetts. If I can help one cat or dog through donations made from this article, that would be great. If I can help several animals, that would be amazing. Be sure to put in memory of Buddy in the memo. I need your help to make this happen. You can click this link to donate directly to them.

Also, for the entire month of August, Baypath is waving adoption fees on adult dogs over 50 pounds as part of the clear the shelters campaign. If you have been on the fence about welcoming a new dog into your life, now is a great time. Here is the link for available dogs, tell them Buddy sent you! Please share with your friends and family.

Please comment, and let me know if you would enjoy reading more animal photography type stories. I have many stories from my furry friends over the years. For now, here is more of Buddy:)

Sweet Buddy

Birthday cake


About the Creator

Lois C

I am a self-taught photographer and creative word tinkerer. There are many stories yet to be told, join me on the journey. You can find me on

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  • Deb S2 months ago

    I am so touched by your story and so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for adopting Buddy, sounds like he was very lucky to have you, but you were also very lucky to have him! Sharing this story is such a wonderful tribute for Buddy, I’ll be sure to make a donation in his name!

  • IvanaCh2 months ago

    Tears rolling down my face reading this....amazingly writen...I'm really sorry for your loss... but thank you for beautiful article :)

  • mysoundMusic2 months ago

    Love this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Gabriel Huizenga2 months ago

    Such a beautiful dog and life story- thank you so much for sharing! My heart is with you- I am still mourning the loss of my sweet seventeen-year-old Sierra. All the best, friend <3

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing Buddy's story. I've had to take that final drive to the vet far too many times and I've always made sure that my eyes were what theirs saw as they drifted into that final sleep. Every dog I've owned in my adult life has been a rescue and each has rescued me in return. So many stories to be written! Pam and I currently have 2 active 60-pounders and they're a constant source of joy. Our hearts go out to you. and thank you again for this story and congratulations!

  • Loved this 😊❤️💯🥰🥹Congratulations on Your Top Story 🎊

  • Heidi McCloskey2 months ago

    This was such a beautiful story. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Jazzy Gonçalves 2 months ago

    Im so sorry for your loss! I remember my dear Tucker passing and it was very painful! They always will be in our hearts!!!

  • I am so sorry you lost your best friend. Buddy sounds and looks like a sweetheart. I love all the little stories you told about Buddy, especially his way of greeting people. The pictures added to the stories, helping paint a picture of the wonderful dog you got to know.

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