Buddy was the best person in the room. Always. He was an old soul in a Labrador body.
Ask a dog lover to remember their favorite canine and the answer should come easily, even if the dog belonged to someone else. Buddy was that dog for alot of people.
Buddy shared his time (I hesitate to say "belonged") on this mortal coil with Rob Hamilton, and eventually Mrs. Hamilton. Rob took Buddy off the hands of an alcoholic boor when he was a rambunctious and willful puppy. With a steady hand, Rob was able to bring out the dog I came to know and love.
Buddy became the ultimate outdoor dog. My time with him started after I ended college. I was trying to get out of a relationship that should never have gotten as far as it did. At the time, the solution to this problem was to save up, pack up, and turn my back on the whole fiasco. In climber parlance this situation is described as a long road trip. It was Buddy's idea (he was an accomplished boulderer in his own right). He had wanted to do a bouldering/climbing tour of the southwest and Rob, having just purchased a fragile, gutless, but surprisingly resilient RV (AKA: The Limping Trout) agreed. We three decided to go where Dog and a few good guide books led.
I have so many memories of Buddy's canine contributions to this period in my life. One day I came over to see what he was up to. Turned out he was inverted, up to his mid section in a freshly excavated hole, a legitimate berm of dirt adding to the impression that he was trying to escape to China. I asked what he was looking for, and, with a soiled visage and straight face, he said, "My keys.".
Buddy was renowned for his retriever ability. I have personally cut a notch in a stick and pitched it off a 300ft cliff just to test Buddy's powers. Though it took over an hour, of which Buddy was completely out of sight, he did return triumphant with the notched stick. I've seen him dive into Class IV rapids (and other bodies of water too numerous too count) after a stick, returning bedraggled and bruised with a wounded expression and no stick. Buddy took that sort of thing, the losing of the stick, very personally.
Robert had the good fortune to accompany Buddy on his many road-trips. He lived a dog's life in many places: Sedona, Boulder, Mammoth, Flagstaff, Chico, Bishop, Shasta, and more. He traveled the southwest extensively: Socorro, El Paso, Superior, Red Rocks, Zion, Moab, Durango, Prescott, Joshua Tree, and the list grows long. Buddy was a people person and throughout his travels he made many friends and admirers.
Buddy was proud of his appearance and maintained a healthy and active lifestyle until about the last year of his life. He was as happy as ever to see old friends, fetch slippers, and even hobble after the ubiquitous stick. He did a sort of "farewell" tour last Christmas, and Ruth and I were both very happy to get one more day with him. Dammit, I must have gotten some dust in my eyes or something.
Buddy, you were a great wanderer. You were fun, engaged, conscientious, and a true friend. I am just one of your many friends, but I had a deeper relationship with you than those others, and, though we had not seen enough of each other in recent years, I will always remember you, your friendship, and your generous spirit. Dog Heaven is a richer place.