The Mad Devil
An Ode to Butch
(butch waiting to be walked June 04)
Butch came into my life in the summer of 2000. Kate found her running around near her house, I think on Wake Forest Road. If not Wake Forest, then some other busy interchange. Kate had had the misfortune of taking one dog to the pound while she tried to find its owner only to find that they had put it to sleep after a week. Fearing that outcome for Butch, she put Butch in my house while she put up signs seeking her owner.
Of course, she did not start out Butch. She had a collar and trimmed nails, but no tags, no RFID chip. I needed something to call her. Something to which I would not grow attached so that when her owner reclaimed her, I could cope. She had a reddish coat that was frequently all spiked up in a fear reaction around men. She was less skittish around women. Butch she became. The days turned to weeks. She was hyper. She jumped the fence. The six foot fence. She ran around the neighborhood, forcing me to chase her down. I got Jewel. They played. She calmed down. She became part of the family.
We moved from Cary to Raleigh. She jumped the short chain fence in the new house. I chased her all over the neighborhood. I got a new fence. A new six foot fence. She jumped it. I put up a livestock wire to shock her as she jumped it in an effort to discourage this jumping. She jumped it anyway. I put up an ever so attractive bit of chicken wire on top of the fence and curled inward. That finally seemed to do the trick. That or she finally decided she was home and could hang out with us.
I got Knuckles. Jewel left us. Butch stayed. She was a rock in the chaos of 2005. Always with demanding to be walked. Always with the frisky little tail wags and aggressive play bows. Always with the barks for the UPS truck. It clearly must be the steed of satan. I could rely on Butch to provide sanity when everything else seemed to be a mess.
Butch went to CT with me. O how I hated walking in the rain and snow with her up in that miserable, pestilent, little hole.
Before Thanksgiving of 2007, she started throwing up. Butch always ate a lot of grass, so I did not think too much of it, but she continued through Thanksgiving at the farm, and then was not well when we returned to CT. I took her to the vet. She was very jaundiced. Her bilirubin levels were over twenty times normal. They kept her and gave her fluids. Antibiotics. Time passed. She did not get better. In January, I brought her back to NC to have a biopsy. An E.coli infection in her liver. Advanced. We struggled with a 6 pill/day regime. She recovered somewhat. Her bilirubin fluctuated up to thirty times normal. It came down to about ten times normal. Her other values improved. She ate. She ran. She beat up on Knuckles. She assaulted Will when he was sitting in the kitchen. She stopped barking at Brian. She even tolerated the pizza guy on the porch. The UPS truck merited only a single bark or three rather than a full bore assault on the front windows. She picked fights with the neighbor's dogs. She got bit. I took her in to have the wound examined. It wept. The bloodwork showed reduced albumin levels. She was anemic. We went to the farm for Labor Day weekend. She had a good visit. She chased the cows. She talked to the burro. She walked to the back. We came back to NC and she faded. In three days she was gone.
I hope I did the right thing, keeping her with me these past ten months from the original diagnosis. I was not ready to let her go. Now that she is gone, I am still not ready. I keep expecting to see her in the living room or camped outside the dog door waiting for Knuckles to come through.
Butch ??-September 6, 2008
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