Bucky was the first dog I adopted that I had not fallen in love with at first sight. When I went to meet him in Weaverville, it was because a friend had told me his owner had a terminal illness and was looking for a good home for him. I was newly dog-less at that moment in time, so decided to take a look. His name then was Shadow. Since we had a neighbor dog named Shadow, we changed it to BuckSnort, a name my husband had seen on a road in Tennessee and vowed to steal for our next pet. Matt has a somewhat perverted sense of humor, but I agreed to the name and promptly shortened to Bucky. God knows he was cute. BuckSnort – not Matt. Although Matt is cute, too. But BuckSnort was six years old and 25 pounds of black fluff with a tail that stuck up from his butt like a pompom. Matt has no tail.
But there was a look in this dog’s eyes that first day that said, “Do not think I’m adorable. Everyone thinks that, but I will defeat you, you skinny bitch, just as I’ve defeated her.” Meaning the poor, sick woman who was his current owner. “He’s a good dog,” she said. “Just one bad habit – he likes to chew on my bed pillow.” So, I’ll close the bedroom door, I thought sagely. That should solve the problem. And it did, until he discovered sofa pillows. I’ll never forget the day I walked into our den and noticed the floor was white with fuzzy batting. At first, I tried to re-sew that sofa cushion until I realized It was useless. Then, I just turned the gnawed corner down so that no one could see it. It became a battle of wills between me and Bucky. If I would forget for one second to block that den, he’d get in and once again my carpet would look like a white blizzard of stuffing had descended on it.
But I persisted. And so did he. BuckSnort, aka Bucky, became my buddy, canine variety, my tormentor, my muse, and my all-around shadow who follows me every step of his and my life. I love him dearly now, in spite of his many peccadilloes in regard to upholstery. He’s now 11 years old. Dog behavior is really interesting. I do everything for Bucky – feed him, walk him, bathe him (which he hates), and take him to the hospital where he plays with kids and adults alike as a much-loved therapy dog. That said, you would think he would worship me, right? Wrong! Who Bucky worships is Matt. Me? I’m the serving girl. His preference is clear – unless it’s time for dinner. He adores Matt, another male I fell for 35 years ago. But Matt was and is a keeper. Just like Bucky. Matt does not chew pillows. When I brought the dog home that day, his previous owner, a single woman, was most concerned about how Shadow/now Bucky would respond to “male energy.” He had never been around a man, and she wasn’t sure. I sure wish she was still here to see the dog lick Matt’s face in utter and absolute rapture. This is a bro-mance that never ceases. I remind Matt that initially he wanted a girl dog, a fact he steadfastly denies.
The day after we brought him home, Carol, his previous owner, came with a bag of his food to our house. I expected Bucky to go crazy with affection for her, but boy was I mistaken. He shunned her. Literally. Would not go near her. Turned on his heel and ran from her, his pompom tail wafting in the breeze. It was embarrassing. I finally figured it out. In that one night with us, this dog had been walked outside (something she was not capable of doing), met other people and other dogs, and had figured out in his little pea brain that this gig was far superior to the one he was abandoning without a backward glance. Sort of broke my heart. That was before his first upholstery encounter, though. Bucky is a good will ambassador in this neighborhood. He has no fear and runs to greet neighbors and other dogs with equal excitement and affection. Once at the doggie park, a wolf hybrid four times his size got aggressive with him. He just stood his ground and gathered up all the energy in his 25-pounds body until the wolf dog backed down. Then, they played together.
He has zero fear! Wouldn’t that be nice? Anyway, I have a doggie tip for you: There was a female Corgi in our block who was terrified of all dogs, especially Bucky. Try as he might, he could not win her friendship. Finally, a new woman was walking her and noticed the hostility. “Hold your dog,” she said. I did. She brought the Corgi up and let her smell Bucky’s butt. Then she held the Corgi, and I let Bucky smell her rear end. It was a miracle. Funny, isn’t it? The two dogs are pals since that day and greet each other happily every time they meet.
Maybe we should try that approach with #45 and the rest of the world leaders. Couldn’t hurt!
Jeanne Charters is a New Yorker blissfully relocated to Asheville. She lives with her husband, Matt Restivo, and their dog, Bucky. Her novel, Shanty Gold, is available at Malaprops and Mountain Made in Asheville; at Highland Books in Brevard; at Blue Ridge Books and News in Waynesville; at The Book Shelf in Tryon; and, of course, Amazon. Her second book, Lace Curtain, will be available soon. Jeanne invites you to enjoy her blogs on Irish jokes and historical tidbits at www.jeannecharters.com. Contact her at email@example.com. She loves to hear from readers.