My alarm goes off. It’s 4:45 am and I slowly awake after one of the most randomly traumatic days of my life. I slip into my running gear and head quietly towards the kitchen. Today though something immediately felt different. A silence, an emptiness, something is not right. As I proceeded into the kitchen and scanned my surroundings, I saw an open space where a bed used to be, and situated in the corner of the room is a lonely black chair where my best mate once lay. I picked up my shoes, walked out the back door, and started to cry.
I feel I owe you guys a bit of a back story. About 11 years ago, almost to this day. My wife and I made the worst, sorry, best decision of our lives. We were young, had a bit of savings, and a recent newfound interest in dogs. Never having had a dog, I was reassured by the Missus that they are low maintenance, easy going cuddle machines, that are worth every second of your time. I, of course, fell hook, line, and sinker for this belief, we headed to Dromara to “have a look” at some newly born Bulldog pups. We were welcomed in the driveway by two monstrous pig-like cuddle machines and then shown into the kitchen to the sound of 8 squeaking ickle love bugs or bulldogs (not much difference, they both don’t do much and are cute AF). Little did I know at that stage that I was staring down the eyes of my arch-nemesis and future comrade Buddy Hamilton or his official title Buddy the Elf. We exchanged pleasantries with the owner whilst taking in the noise and chaos in front of us. Having been told to go for the most forthcoming dog, the biggest, the one with the straightest tail but all that goes entirely out the window when you see the one you love. Buddy was perched close to the back, beautiful markings and giving off to another dog, half-sleeping, half winding his brothers and sisters up. There was another female who came close that day, but we were the lucky ones when Buddy chose us. The rest is history. At only six weeks old, we had to come back at a later stage to pick him up. We left the house tickled pink, high on life, and excited at the new addition to our family.
Several weeks past and my Bro and I set off to pick up Bud. At this stage, I should probably explain the name. Buddy derived from Buddy the Elf; you know the most amazing Christmas film of all time. We picked him up around Christmas, at that stage he was a tiny elf, and of course, he was a bulldog so obviously need a name beginning with ‘B’ Duuuh (unwritten rule there, most bulldog names start with a B). Simple, no looking back on that name. Anyways, where was I? We picked him up and stuck him in a cardboard box laced with blankets and his first teddy (humping toy, we will get to that). Whimpering most of the way home but I hope happy that his forever home was soon to be revealed.
Life with Buddy was great, horrible, sad, manic, smelly, fantastic, high maintenance, strange, WTF, and much more. Not one of those times would I change. I remember early on, l think when he was like one or two we had to rush him to the out of hours emergency vet as he could barely breathe. A stressful time to say the least but made worse by the Vet informing us that his airway was the size of a biro and we would be lucky to get another year out of him, enjoy him while we can she said. We called BS, ten years on we nurtured that dog to a happy, fulfilling life. Along the way, he did pretty much live in our local Vet. We want to extend our biggest thanks to Cedarmont in Bangor who got well accustomed to seeing Buddy swan into the place and proceed to pee with overexcitement at the sights and sounds which regularly became too much for his little emotionally-driven character.
Buddy grew quickly but not so much up, more so out wide. Don’t get me wrong he was relatively small for a Bulldog as we needed to keep his weight under control to manage his breathing, but he still was 25kg of mobile love machine when that thing was bounding at you to give you licks or just to run into you just because, you knew to brace. Buds had a unique art of wiggling, he had so much power in his tiny stump of a tail that not only did his tail move when he saw you but his whole body snaked about uncontrollably, hence one of his many names Mr Wiggles. My parents always laughed when they came to visit as Bud would be seated on HIS chair in the kitchen so lazy that he preferred not to get off his seat to greet them, but wiggled himself and the chair and raised his face, which could only be described as giving them a massive smile. Buddy had many names, which probably confused the life out of him, but he responded to them all as he no doubt knew there was a biscuit reward at the end of each of them. A few of the more common ones; Buds, Puppy, Mr Wiggles, Mr Gloppy Eyes, and probably my favourite Mr Stink or as we liked to call him Wee Stink.
He did not smell, BUT he could stink! Let’s get that out there first and foremost. When buying a dog you have to take the rough with the smooth, like humans they need to deposit waste, humans tend to after babyhood become self-sufficient, dogs however do not. You will have to clean, pick up, rub, poke, pull things which you would never have dreamed you would have to do. That one time, after a Halloween party we came back to 7 different presents in which could only be described as a dirty protest around the kitchen. It had me wretching while my hero wife cleaned until the smell of bleach tore out my eyes. Wee stink was high maintenance; we had to regularly clean ears, flaps, creases, tails, feet, etc. Bulldogs are not the most flexible, so reaching places to self-clean is not an option and because they are pretty much one big wrinkle cleaning their folds is a must. Once again a shoutout to the wife for taking this role on a lot more than myself, women must have a better gag reflex, but the smell of ear goo had me close to making more of a mess on numerous occasions.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or you can’t teach Bulldogs tricks unless you have 100 crappy tasting (yes I’ve tried, when drunk) cardboard biscuits at your disposal. Buddy may have had the appearance of a ruggedly handsome, weather-beaten, muscular battleship (like me) but he was delicate and agile when it came to earning biscuits. I shall link a video for your amusement, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyev8cK58m4, he could sit, high five, spin, give paw, lie down, and the best one which I taught him was Bark. This one did get out of hand though (my bad), as he got accustomed to going to his biscuit drawer and letting you know when he wanted a biscuit. Either by barking, or pawing his drawer. He also had his own policy of ‘ask me three times’ before I do anything rule. Pretty much exactly as it says. Nothing was done immediately; his life was one significant delay. Buddy? Buddy? BUDDY! Five seconds later, he would come strolling around the corner and into his bed looking for his cardboard delicacy. He was lead by food, plain and simple. Once around Christmas, we went into the living room to an entirely devoured box of Liqueur Chocolates and a dog with a guilty conscience. Later he created the stink and also felt sorry for himself, but deep down, we were happy he was alright, learning our biggest lesson to avoid leaving low-lying edible objects around.
Life went on, with many more amazing adventures but like all good things, they must come to an end. His playfulness became sleepiness; his boisterous nature became observant, his body wiggles became tail shakes. He was old. Bulldogs tend to get 8-9 years, but we had given this boy a whopping 11 years of excitement and love, which he gave back buckets in return. You have to remember that you cannot keep a dog alive just for you. It became apparent that by him slowing down and his appetite diminishing that our playful wee puppy had come near his time. Now whether or not you want to believe he would go off to play pain-free in the fields with other dogs or my favourite sitting on a throne of freshly cooked fillet steaks eating till his heart is content. There is one thing for sure that he would be happier there than he would be in his current situation. I made the call (the most challenging, weirdest thing I’ve had to do), we booked the appointment and watched as our furry family member came to peace. Happy for him but selfishly heartbreaking for us.
I could pretty much write all day about Wee Stink, he made such an impact on our lives and made the 11 years the most fun-filled, trying adventure we could have asked for. I do feel in this day and age since everything is being reworded that the term ‘Mans best friend’ is a bit too gender-specific because I can tell you now the love that both my wife and I had for that dog was like no other. He was our Bestie, he was the maker of noise, the creator of stink but most importantly, the bringer of happiness. You will be missed puppy.
I know they say, “It’s just a dog,” but we can assure you they are so much more.
RIP Buddy Hamilton (Oct 2009-Nov 2020)
Experienced Model and Personal Trainer with a demonstrated history of working in the motion pictures and film industry. Skilled in Acting, Comedy, Stage Combat, Boxing, and Music Videos. Strong entrepreneurship professional with a BEng Hons Mechanical Engineering focused in Mechanical Engineering from Queens University Belfast.