Buster Blues

Buster was our "first born". I convinced Mark that I needed a dog when we first moved to Colorado in 2003, right after we were married. So, he's been with us since our beginning. He kept me company on the many nights when Mark was traveling for work. Although he was supposed to be my guard dog, he's turned out to be quite a sissy. More mouse, than monster. But he's our sissy, and we love him.

Boxers are known to be a wonderful breed of dog. He has spoiled us. When he first came, I worked hard to train him. He was my "project" during that time. And I must say, I can give The Dog Whisperer a run for his money. I actually taught Buster to ring a bell every time he needed to go potty. So, now I have even trained the kids to open the door for "Bubba" when he rings his bell! He obeys commands such as "leave it", "crawl", "back", and "wait" as well as all the usual sit, stays. He doesn't jump up on people, dig holes, chew on furniture, bark, or have crazy Alpha dog traits.

But even training can't take the "weirdo" out of the dog easily. Buster once disappeared into the woods on one of our camping trips because Mark decided to help him get used to the sound of a shotgun. Not a good plan. Finally, after 3 hours of searching for him- me crying and Mark apologizing- Buster came back to us, tail tucked between his legs, scared out of his wits. Yeah, Buster does not like loud noises. He also is a Nervous Nelly in general. At the vet, he sits and shivers the entire time, accompanied by a nervous licking habit. Okay, maybe I can't claim Dog Whisperer status, but let's focus on why we love him for a minute.

When each of our kids were born, Buster took on the Nanny role. Much like that of the dog in Peter Pan. He would lay on the blanket next to them, making sure everything was alright. When they cried he would nudge them gently with his nose or look up at me, saying, "What are you going to do about this?"

As he has grown, our kids have accepted him as part of the family. When we camp, he stays right with them when they go exploring. He has been loved on, ridden on, and laid on, and seems to soak it all up!

So, we can take Buster camping, sure, but sailing is a whole different animal. An eighty pound Boxer with drool and claws is not a great match for new leather seats and wood floors. But the question is not "can we take him with us?" (that has been emphatically answered with a resounding "NO" from the captain), but rather "where does he go while we're gone?"

No one is going to love our "Bubba" as much as we do. But, here are some of the options...

My sister lives in Nashville and has hesitantly said, "I can take care of him". Quickly followed by "How long will you be gone?" Hmmm, not a great idea to plop a dog on a family member. The next family reunion could be a bit tense if things don't go well. Plus, driving Buster to Nashville seems a bit excessive.

This is a fair option, but they've got other dogs who don't necessarily WANT another dog encroaching on their family unit. Will Buster be the red-headed stepchild? Yikes. And does the new master have the Dog Whisperer skills he is used to?

High Cost. Kennel Cough. Enough said.

High Cost. My lowest offer was $500 a month for him to stay in someone's home. Really?? That's like rent for a small apartment! Or private school tuition! Um... no.

This might be the easiest emotionally, but I'm just not ready to let go yet. The 4 months we'll be sailing is a trial for everyone. That includes Buster.

So, this is what has kept me up all night and caused me to feel horrible abandonment guilt. There doesn't seem to be an easy answer. Do I burden relationships by asking friends or family to take in our loveable lummock, do we suck it up and give him away for good, or do we fork over our kids' college savings to have him cared for?

Poor Buster. I know he's singing the Elvis blues..."Since my family left me..."


  1. Hi Sarah, Mark, and kids,
    This is to you all cuz I know it will greatly impact your lives to part with your loyal companion. We just lost our beloved Border Collie last year and we're still devastated. But in hopes of sailing quite a bit in the next 2 years, we are waiting to adopt. But my point, and I do have one, is that this blog will generate the solution for you. The right thing will happen and the blues will morph into jazz. Someone out there is going to welcome this special critter into their lives short or long term. Believe it!!!


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