Bud | A Vermont Dog
Tim Cook, whose sister Polly manages the general store, moved into a cabin in the woods on the quarry road a half mile from the village. Tim was 85 percent deaf and blind from a progressive neurological condition. By living in a cabin without water or electricity, Tim was fending off the realization that he couldn’t live independently much longer. Bud must have noticed Tim’s struggle because he became a self-made seeing-eye dog, walking back and forth with Tim, guiding him away from traffic and obstacles.
The amazing thing was that Bud could maintain such a tight schedule of duties, obligations, and social calls. Over the years, Bud knit the village together with his zigzag trail. One resident said, “We all had this dog in common. We called around on the phone to see what he was doing.” In the end, nobody really owned Bud. He became a public institution.
Dr. Eleanora Sense, at 100-plus years old, was one of the deans of the Adamant Music School, which draws piano students and masters from around the world every summer. She is described by those who remember her as imperious and magisterial, with a daunting ability to control and dominate those around her. The story goes that Eleanora would bring a string when she walked down to the general store. If Bud happened to be at the store, Eleanora would loop her string through Bud’s collar and lead him to her cabin. Bud would spend a few days and nights under her tutelage. It is also said that she and her willing prisoner enjoyed tea and Lorna Doones together. On one Fourth of July, Eleanora led Bud in the village parade with a crown of flowers on his head.
It was on a wintry walk with Marion Parauka and Lois Toby up by the county road that Bud first showed signs of kidney disease. “Buddy took his first spell over by Mary Radigan’s house. He fell down in the road for no apparent reason,” Lois remembers. The local veterinarian prescribed a special diet and, pretty soon, village houses and the general store were stocked with cans of the right food. The store bulletin board carried alerts on Bud’s condition. Word spread that people should stop feeding him cookies and ice cream: Bud needed protein. People took cooked meat, often moose meat, to the store for Bud when he stopped by.
Later, Bud’s declining health necessitated that he be administered medication every day. A sign-up sheet was posted in the store with instructions on when and how to give Bud his medication. Bud began to spend more time in front of the general store’s woodstove as he became less able to work his territory. He shifted his locations less frequently, and he lengthened his visits.
When Ruthie noticed that Bud was failing to the point that he could no longer maintain his customary lifestyle, she took him to a homeopathic veterinarian and left him there for several days of treatment. “We were just trying to help Bud feel more comfortable, but when we brought him home, he was so sick he couldn’t even walk. We knew we were going to have to put him to sleep. We decided we would give Bud a few final days so everyone could come and say good-bye.” Word spread quickly. Someone posted a notice: “Buddy is dying.”
Ruthie recalls that over the next few days there was a steady stream of Bud’s people. “There were so many people I didn’t even recognize, much less know. But Bud knew everyone.”
Some chose not to visit Bud’s deathbed. As one person put it, “I didn’t want to embarrass Bud. He had had such dignity in his life.
On February 24, 1996, Ruthie’s journal reads, “Buddy can’t even stand. His face is all swollen and he can’t stop shivering.” On February 28 she wrote, “Today is the day. My heart is aching. I found a little girl sitting and sobbing by Bud’s side. I had never seen her before.” That afternoon, the veterinarian was called, and Bud died in Louis’s kitchen surrounded by a small circle of family and friends.
They brought Bud’s body down into the village at nightfall on March 3. An icy wind blew fresh snow in swirling eddies. His body was shrouded in a blanket and laid across the back seat of an old red sedan. As the car slowly wound its way along the steep, twisting dirt road, a crowd of Bud’s friends, lining both sides of the road, was caught and held by its headlights. Next to a frozen pond and beaver dam was an open grave bordered by mounds of loose dirt. The body was lifted out of the car, gently lowered into the grave, and then covered with a brilliant red scarf. The villagers silently took turns shoveling dirt into the grave. Someone murmured, “We’re sure going to miss him.”