Buster was a very sad example of the sick abuse and neglect that people can inflict on an innocent creature. Buster came to us from a New York City shelter emaciated down to his bones - every rib protruding through his skin, his skull all angles and no flesh beneath it. Buster was a white Pitbull Terrier but he had more yellow and brown in his coat from the filth that he had been confined in. His hips and knees and hocks and tail were yellow, scalded from urine and open and oozing from the sores. Buster was a sad sight. His drooping features showed the depression of years of time spent alone and neglected. Something in him must have held onto some amount of hope as it seems almost impossible that he had even survived his torture. Buster was an elderly dog already and it seemed he had not known a good day in all his life.
Immediately, we lavished Buster with every comfort that we could muster. He was doted upon in every waking moment with warm blankets and plush beds, soft stuffed toys and bones inside and the carpet of thick grass under his feet and warm sunshine in the yard outside. Buster no longer had any boundaries. The world was his to enjoy and we never wasted a minute showing him that his new people were only here to help him and most of all love him. Soon with big meals, he put on the weight that he was drastically lacking. With baths and medical treatment, his sores healed and his coat regained its former white color and thickness. Buster had to have surgery to remove stones from his belly, undoubtedly consumed when he was left to starve in his former isolation. He was also neutered and this helped him to put on more weight in his old age. He became the relaxed, fat and happy old man in his final years with us.
Buster loved all of the other dogs that he met while here with us. He took a special liking to 'Buckshot' our Jack Russell Terrier who was a puppy when Buster arrived and grew up with him as a role model. Buckshot would bring out the puppy in Buster and we got to see our beloved old man experience a second puppyhood - one that he doubtlessly had been denied the first time around. Buster would wrestle and roll and put little Buckshot in his mouth - groaning and reveling in the youthful play. Buster loved to play fetch in the yard with a tennis ball and as he would approach the ball, he would always make a final leap, pouncing down on the ball with his front paws. Sometimes he would roll the ball around under one of his paws like he was dribbling a soccer ball with a determined grimace on his face. Buster was never without entertainment here, and indulged himself with every moment, like he was trying to make up for lost time.
Buster spent two years and twenty days as the object of our every affection. The morning that he left us, we noticed some confusion and a stammer as he was coming in from the yard. There was a strange moment of pause that did not go unnoticed by us and we suspected that something was amiss. A couple hours later as he was napping on the bed, he cried out suddenly. When we attempted to move him, he cried out again. Buster had had a stroke. We managed to use the blanket he was on as a sling and carry him out to the car where we would bring him to the vet immediately. Not being able to both leave the house and all the other dogs, Eric would bring him and I would stay behind. My final goodbyes were said in the back of the car. I pet his face one final time and told him that I loved him and that everything would be okay soon. For him I knew it would be, for myself and Eric I knew the pain was only just beginning.
Buster was the first elderly abuse case that we reached out to. Likewise, he was the first rescue that we lost in this sudden and traumatic fashion. There was no waning disease that gradually took him from us. Although he was an old man, his spirit remained youthful throughout his time with us and up until the very end. We never had begun to accept that his time with us might be at all limited or close to ending. Part of us believed that Buster would be here forever. When you do not know the dog as a puppy or in the prime of their life, you accept their age as a part of their identity. When the dogs come to you in a state so close to death, you cherish every bit of spirit and life that they show you as a miracle. To us Buster was an amazing testament to the pure will of dogs - to enjoy life for everything that it may have to offer. We knew that if it was up to him, he would live forever. When he was gone so quickly, we just as suddenly felt regret for not being able to give back to him the many years of his that were wasted in his neglect. It was strikingly painful that he was only given the two years to recover and make up for lost time. And yet, we felt that our time with him was an opportunity to do truly pure good in this world - a chance to perform a miracle. Buster was an angel that was spared from certain death to be given the chance to bless us with his gift of forgiveness and resilience and strength of species. Buster was a dog through and through and his memory will be cherished forever.
Watch Buster's transformation on video.