Recently I was organizing one of the closets at the Barn when I came across Buster’s old dog bowls. And I smiled to myself as I remembered Buster Brown the biggest lap dog in the world. He wasn’t a lap dog but he thought he was. He was a very tall, 130 pound Rottweiler and a great dog. When my daughters were very young, they said they wanted a dog and I told them when you are 7 and 10 we will talk about it. They must have been really young because 7 and 10 years old seemed a long way off. Well, when they were 8 and 11 years old they really started bugging us about a dog. They remembered my comment as “when you are 7 and 10 we can get a dog” – really, my girls didn’t remember when I asked them to put their toys away but they remembered that off-handed statement about getting a dog.
Late one Sunday afternoon our phone rang and it was Bill. Bill had a wonderful dog named Bo who was the “dad” for a litter of Rottweiler puppies. We had been at a party together earlier in the day and I guess there had been discussion about puppies. He wanted to stop by and show us one of the new puppies. Bruce said “sure, come on by”. I gave him a weird look and he said “no problem when Bill mentions how much the puppy is we will just say we can’t afford it” which was the truth. Great, we have a plan. Well either God has a sense of humor (which I believe He does) or my kids had really been praying because what happened next was amazing and only God. Bill stops by with this adorable pure bred puppy with very big feet. He tells my kids that they can name the puppy. My girls pick Buster Brown. And then Bruce says “So how much does a puppy like this go for?” and Bill says “Free to a good home” Bruce mentions “we are going on vacation”. “No problem, we will keep him at our house until you get back.” Really!?! what just happened here. And that is how at 8 and 11 years old my girls got a dog.
When my kids told my mom we got a dog, my mom thought I was having some kind of mid-life crisis because growing up I didn’t like big dogs. I told her if I was having a mid life crisis it won’t involve getting a big dog maybe a fancy car but not a dog. My dad loved Buster right a way but didn’t let on in front of my mom. My dad would say “most people don’t keep a small horse in their house”. My mom did eventually love Buster.
When Buster was a year old, we went on a 5 week camping trip – our National Parks tour as we affectionately called. We were a family of 4 traveling in a Ford F-150 with a cap, pulling a pop-up trailer with New York license plates and we had a Rottweiler. We were sure most people thought we were drug dealers. There are many stories from that trip that I will share at another time. I would like to share one Buster story from that trip. We visited Bruce’s sister in Kansas. She has a built-in pool. I was out by the pool watching the girls swim and Buster was pacing back and forth. He really didn’t like that they were in the pool. He looked like “oh no, if something happens I am going to have to jump in.” When they got out he won’t let them get back in. He kept herding them away from the pool. We finally had to hold him by his collar so the girls could get back in the pool.
One year a few days before Christmas, Buster pulled down the Christmas tree. The girls were watching television with Bruce and I was taking a relaxing bath and I heard “boom”. The Christmas tree had fallen over. At first we didn’t realize how it had happened but then we figured it out Buster had walked up to the tree to take an ornament off – he did that when you weren’t paying attention to him. Anyway, his collar got caught on the tree and as he pulled away the tree fell.
After September 11, when there were so many different people stopping by the house to see if we needed anything or to bring food, Buster would stand between me and the other person. But if the girls walked into the room, he would go stand between them and the person. Buster took his job of being “the man of the house” very seriously. Buster died 5 years ago. He was 11 years old which is actually kind of old for such a big dog. He was a wonderful dog and a “priceless” gift to our family.