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  • Mike Martinez

Dreaming Out Loud, Postscript (Goodbye, Mister Buster)

Back in January 2015, I posted my last blog about my mother’s stroke and our family’s efforts to deal with the repercussions. It was part of my book titled Dreaming Out Loud.

I have one final posting about my mother and her legacy.

It is with a heavy heart that I report on the death of mom’s beloved little Chihuahua-mix, Mister Buster. He was only nine-and-a half years old. I thought he had more time with us, but I was wrong. He died on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at 3:38 p.m. eastern time.

Mister came to live with us when he was a puppy. Back in 2005, our housekeeper, Shirley, lost her Chihuahua, Chester. Shirley’s brother bought her two little Chihuahua-mix puppies to help her recover from Chester’s death. When Shirley brought the two puppies to our house and said she could only keep one puppy, mom begged me to buy the other dog. I agreed.

Shirley brought two puppies to our house in 2005. Mister Buster is on the right.

Normally, I would have been irked with Shirley for bringing a puppy to our house and sticking me with its care and feeding. In this instance, however, I was pleased. Mom had been pleading with me to buy her a goat. Because I knew mom probably would die before the goat expired, I harbored visions of being stuck with the animal long after my mother had passed from the scene.

As a condition of purchasing the little Chihuahua-mix from Shirley, I told mom we would not buy a goat. She reluctantly relented. If I was going to be stuck with an animal, I preferred to have a small dog rather than a large goat. I never regretted the tradeoff.

We decided to name him “Mister Buster” because that was a pet phrase my mother used when I was an adolescent and she was angry with me. “I don’t know who you think you are, Mister Buster,” mom would bark, “but you need to shape up and act right!”

Mom adored Mister. He could do no wrong in her eyes. If he peed on the rug, she would laugh. “That okay,” she would say. Shirley and I were less sanguine because one of us had the unenviable task of cleaning up the mess.

When we learned that mom was suffering from terminal cancer, she tried to bequeath Mister to my cousin, Barbara Wise. Being a good-natured person, Barbara would have taken Mister if he had had no other home, but I assured her that he would stay with me. Barbara appeared to be relieved.

I was never a big fan of Chihuahuas, but I came to love Mister. He was not a handsome dog, nor was he especially bright. He always experienced difficulty navigating stairs. Still, he loved me wholeheartedly, and there is something to be said for such unqualified devotion.

In a dirty old world where hearts crack and break, where disappointments proliferate, where officious bosses pontificate, and adulterous spouses fornicate, such loyalty I can appreciate.

Mister decides to stay in bed for the day, 2015.

Mister was never a large dog — he topped out at 18 pounds in his salad days — but I noticed in February 2015 that he was wasting away. The young Mister wolfed down his dog food, but the old fellow was disinterested. He fell to 12 pounds — a loss of one third of his body weight.

I hauled him to the Walton-Gwinnett Animal Clinic for a series of tests and medications. Three weeks and $700 later, we discovered that Mister was riddled with cancer. It had metastasized throughout his body. With no treatment options available, we put him to sleep.

I have lost many pets during my life, and it is never easy to say goodbye to a trusted friend. Mister always seemed too fragile and frightened for this world. The little Chihuahua often shook with fear over small daily events. Yet he bravely went to his death. I was with him at the end, staring into his eyes as he sank down into wherever we go after we leave this life.

Mister was one of my last tangible links to my mom. She has been gone for more than eight years now. Time heals all wounds, but it will not erase memories of those we have loved and lost.

Goodbye, Mister Buster. Thank you for your devotion to my mom — and to me.

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