Jack was out of town again.
This time he had left to attend a three-day
course on emergency room surgical technique. I
usually traveled with my husband, but I had
signed up to teach the third graders. So tonight
it was just me and the dog. Buford and I were a
Our youngest had presented
Buford to her dad when she left for college,
"I got him for you for when you miss me,"
she had said. "He's lots of trouble, wants
to go out all the time, and he'll give you great
hugs any time you need one, just like me." I
could see the resemblance. Jenny and Buford were
blondes and they both liked peanut butter
sandwiches. But Buford outweighed our daughter by
twenty pounds, and his hugs were a bit more, uh
... enthusiastic. Nothing subtle about Buford,
his paws wrapped around your shoulders,
enveloping you in a full-body, tail-wagging
greeting party. We told visitors he had a
Jack named the dog Buford T.
D.O.G. (D.O.G. stood for "Diplomat Of Glad
To See You"). Buford fulfilled all of Jennys
promises, for he was a great companion,
especially during those lonely months after Jenny
left for school. And, though Jenny said Buford
was Jack's dog, Buford always had time for me
too, especially when my husband traveled. He was
always at the back door with a smile on his
enormous yellow face, telling me I mattered.
Buford slept in the back
yard. I go out each and every night to check on
the Buford--my husband's pride and joy--to make
sure the back gate is locked. And each and every
night when I check on that gate, I lean over to I
scratch Buford on the head, tell him to be a good
boy and give him a big bowl of chow. I like the
fact that Buford was out there in the back yard,
watching over me.
It was late, so I closed
the back door, locked it and turned the back
porch light off. I then made my way to our room
at the front of the house. I was tired and that
comforter felt awfully good as I settled in for
the night. Then I realized someone was staring me
through the sliding glass door. It was Buford.
Buford had somehow gotten out of the back yard
and now he stood at our glass door to make sure I
It was 1:00 a.m. and Buford
wanted to play. I had the nerve to be surprised.
I heeded the call. I jumped
to my feet, tripped on Jack's slippers, and
called to Buford, "Buford, come back."
Still scurrying, tripping and running, I grabbed
the flashlight. It didn't work. I ran out into
the front yard. The automatic sprinklers were on.
I yelled to the dog. He kept running. "No,
I'll never find him in the
middle of the night like this. How will I tell
Jack? I know I checked the gate. I'm sure it was
locked. I should have it checked more carefully.
I ran back in and stood at
the door, thinking of Mike Pardue. Our neighbor's
voice filled my head. "Sarah, there's some
dog getting into our chicken houses at night. You
seen any dogs around?" I groaned. He must've
thought Buford had been that dog and I wondered
myself. Just in case he was right, I had been
keeping an extra close eye on the Buford,
watching to make sure he didn't get out. I didn't
want Mike finding Buford with feathers on his fur.
But now, Buford headed down the road toward the
I grabbed Jacks old
Army coat, his size 10 slippers, and my keys.
Then I flew down the hall and jumped into our
truck, making dust toward the Pardue's property.
I put the truck in neutral, coasted past with the
headlights off and hoped the Pardue's didn't hear
me. I didn't want Mike to come out and see what a
fashion statement I made: my husband's 40-year-old
jacket, his size 10 slippers and my new yellow
princess gown with the danty blossom sleeves.
The Pardue's chickens
started making all kinds of racket as I passed
and I cowered lower behind the steering wheel.
But I didn't see Buford. Where, in heaven's name,
is that dog? I'd never lost a dog before.
Up and down the road I
drove. For over an hour I covered the four-mile
distance which stretched from our house to the
Pardue's. Me, the woman who wore her husband's
Army coat over her nightgown and drove around all
over the countryside in a 3/4 ton pickup, peeking
in chicken houses in the middle of the night.
Finally I headed toward
home, pulled into our driveway, parked and turned
off the engine. I reached over and jerked the
truck handle, slid out of the truck onto the
garage floor and closed the door behind me. As I
turned around to go into the house, I suddenly
found myself nose to nose with a very large dog.
Buford--all 120 pounds of him--stood there in the
back of the truck, smiling, wagging his tail,
drooling and thanking me for the fun ride.