Dad's Best Friend
Copyright 2005 by Dee Sanders
In the spring time of 1992, Dad announced that his marriage to his second wife was over. He moved into his father's old homestead place and decided to remodel and fix the old house up. He got a job at the local lumber yard. An advantage to working at the lumber yard was he received all remodeling materials at a discount.
He ran into an old friend who had some pups he was trying to sell. One of the black and tan hound pups caught Dad's eye. He picked the pup up, paid the man and put him in the seat of his pickup and drove home. As Dad turned into his driveway he said I will call you “Bubba”. Dad carried Bubba onto the porch and petted him for several minutes. Dad told Bubba to stay put while he ran to the store to buy some puppy chow. Bubba patiently waited on Dad to return. Dad was so excited to have Bubba there for company, since he lived alone.
Dad loved to go deer hunting. On weekends he and Bubba would go into the woods. Dad was training Bubba for deer season. Every time Dad would open the pickup door Bubba would anxiously await the command to load up. Or, be sad to learn he could not go. Bubba knew the sound of Dad's pickup and could hear him coming before he turned into the driveway. Bubba was always waiting on Dad at the end of the driveway. He walked in Dad's footsteps with every step Dad took. Dad would talk to Bubba as if he were a child. And Bubba acted as though he understood every word.
Deer season was starting and Dad was busy gathering supplies for his camper. He and Bubba was going into the woods to stay for a week. Dad turned Bubba loose early saturday morning. It was the first day of deer season. Dad was anxious to see what Bubba would do. Before long Dad heard Bubba barking. He had picked up a scent of a deer and was trailing him through the woods. Dad ran to get into position on his deer stand. The woods became filled with silence as if Bubba had lost the trail and then the noise picked up. You could hear the rustling of leaves and Bubba's voice getting closer. Dad fired several shots. The deer was down. Dad was so proud he said “good boy, Bubba, good boy!” He patted Bubba on his head and told him he was the best deer dog he had ever seen. Before they knew it the week was over and they had to load up and head home. Dad always seemed so sad when the season was over. He would look forward to deer season for two months ahead of time and with a blink of an eye it is over.
Dad loved the outdoors. His favorite pastime was sitting under a big shade tree while cooking on the grill. When one of us had a birthday, Dad would plan a big birthday party cook out. One sunday we were grilling hamburgers and hotdogs for my brother's birthday party. Dad had the picnic table covered with all the trimmings. He and I had just set the hotdogs on the table and were taking the hamburgers off the grill when we heard a noise behind us. We turned around and there was Bubba sitting at the picnic table with the half of a hot dog bun sticking out of his mouth. He quickly swallowed the remaining half and looked up at Dad with an innocent look. Dad scolded him and told him to go get on the porch. He jumped down from the table and stayed the rest of the afternoon on the porch. We laughed it off, cleaned up the mess, and enjoyed the hamburgers.
Dad was not one to complain about anything. It came as quite a shock to my brother and me when Dad announced he had been diagnosed with lupus. He said his joints had been swelling so he decided to go for a check up. The doctor ordered him to stay inside. She advised him that the sunshine would make his condition worse. Dad refused. He loved the outdoors and said it would not be living if he could not be outdoors doing the things he loved to do.
Within the next year my Dad's condition became worse. He was forced to file for disability and was no longer able to work at the lumber yard. He knew that he would not be able to do as much outdoors but refused to let the lupus take full control of his life. On the days that Dad felt good he and Bubba would drive into the woods and mess around. It just was not as often as it used to be. It was a few months before deer season started again. Dad kept saying I have got to take care of myself so I will feel like hunting this year.
Deer season was approaching and Dad was loading the camper with supplies. He had been feeling better than he had felt in a while. He and Bubba loaded up and headed to camp. The second day of season Dad and Bubba tracked and killed the biggest 10 point buck Dad had ever killed. Dad was so excited he saved the rack to have it mounted to hang on his living room wall. By the fourth day of deer season, camp was starting to take its toll on Dad. He decided to come on home for a day or two and rest. He called me and asked if I would bring him some Tylenol. He felt feverish. I immediately bought some Tylenol and took them to Dad. I stayed with my Dad during the next three days. I tried several times to talk him into going to the doctor but he refused. He told me I could take him the next morning if he was not feeling better.
Morning came and I called Dad to ask how he was feeling. The phone rang and rang, there was no answer. After trying to call several times I panicked and headed to my Dad's house which was thirty five miles away. A couple of miles from Dad's home I picked up my cell phone and called my brother. He lived a couple of miles from Dad. I told him something was not right. Dad was too sick to leave home. But, he was not answering his phone. My brother agreed to meet me at Dad's house.
We arrived and turned into the driveway at the same time. We knocked and knocked but there was no answer. Dad had a house key hidden outside of the house. We got the key and let ourselves in. We screamed and hollered Dad's name as we walked through his lonely house. The bathroom door was shut. We knocked on the door a couple of times but he did not answer. We opened the door and found him on the bathroom floor. He had passed away through the night from a heart attack.
My brother and I walked to the porch. We were crying and trying to decide what to do next.
We had a very nice funeral for Dad and buried him in the family cemetery about a mile past his home. Over the next couple of days we decided to take turns driving to Dad's house to take care of Bubba.
My brother called the next day and said he could not find Bubba. He called his name several times but Bubba did not come home. The next day I went down to Dad's. I called for Bubba but with no response. My brother and I started searching all over the place for Bubba. That is when we realized that Bubba had moved. Bubba had moved about a mile from home to be with his best friend. He laid next to Dad's grave everyday.
We picked Bubba up and took him to our cousin's house close by. Our cousin had other dogs. We thought it would help for Bubba to be around other dogs. Bubba refused to stay there. Each time we would look for him we would find him at Dad's grave side. My brother and I decided we would leave Bubba at Dad's grave side and bring food and water to him there. We would pet and love on Bubba but his happy spirit and zest for life was fading away.
Bubba died three months later. He had mourned himself to death.
I now realize the true meaning of “A dog is a man's best friend”.
In loving memory of our Dad, Dale Jewell.
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