December 27, 1989 - June 24, 2003

From the moment I saw her, I was in love. She just sat in her cage, pretending not to care. Perhaps she didn't want to get her hopes up. All the other puppies were jumping around, practically begging for me to choose them. All I could see was a tiny brown Lhasa Apso stretched out, with her big dark eyes staring me down. "I want this one." I can still remember my parents asking me, "are you sure, that one doesn't seem to have much life to it?" I stood and watched as the woman took her from her cage, still motionless. She placed her in my arms, and our eyes met. Her tail began to wag, and I smiled, and the deal was sealed with a tiny kiss on my cheek. None of us had any idea that our lives had just changed forever. Buttons, or Bubby as we affectionately called her, became a constant source of love and laughter in our home. Now I sit back and think about that first day, and wonder how different our lives would have been if I didn't choose her. We didn't know it at the time, but she needed us, and we needed her.

When Buttons was a year old, she developed a cataract in one eye. After that, it seemed as though her health just wasn't the same. She had one ear infection after another, despite constant cleaning. She would often suffer bellyaches, and so boiled ground meat and rice became a regular staple in her diet. A few years later, she tore the ligaments in her right hind knee. We had them replaced, only to have her tear the left side as well. Shortly after the left side was repaired, she started to grow a tiny lump on her belly, which later became a benign tumor. By the time she was 9, we had already spent thousands of dollars on medical expenses and special foods and medicines. Then the unthinkable occured. Buttons and I were playing with her favorite ball on the carpet one day, the same as we had every day since we brought her home. On this particular day, I tossed the ball across the room, she went to get it, but suddenly stopped dead in her tracks. She looked confused, scared. I ran to her as fast as I could, and I scared her. She didn't see me coming. She didn't see anything. In an instant, she was blind. We immediately took her to the vet, and not a moment too soon. Her condition rapidly deteriorated. She was in a fight for her life. A severe pancreatic infection threatened the life of my best friend. The vet didn't give us much hope. Frankly, she told us that the survival rate of such an infection was "very, very low." Almost a week passed, and Buttons slowly began to improve. We were so lucky to have veterinarians that loved Buttons as much as ur family did. They always went to great lengths to make her well and send her home. Only this trip home, things would be different. Buttons had diabetes. She required constant care. When I was asked if I could do it, I didn't hesitate for a second. I wanted the chance to return the favor. A few years before she became ill, I was the patient. When I ruptured a disc in my back, I was partially paralyzed for a period of time. I couldn't get out of bed. I was finally about to have surgery to repair the damage, when my pre-operative tests showed an abnormality. Weeks later, I was diagnosed with a rare leukemia. Day after day, for nearly a year, Buttons stayed by my side. If I went to the bathroom, she followed. She wouldn't sit down until I was back in my bed safely. She knew I was in pain, and she was there for me. We had a bond that couldn't be broken. That is why, that day in the vet's office, I realized that we were meant to be. Maybe we both just knew when we looked at eachother in the pet shop. Maybe that is why no fuss was necessary. My entire family was dedicated to Buttons, as she had always given us so much love, loyalty, and happiness. Our daily routine consisted of special diet, at specific times twice a day, followed by insulin shots. There were many times that we had to give up things we wanted to do in order to care for Buttons. Sometimes it was frustrating, but we loved her so much that it didn't matter. All the times we had to take out loans to pay for her medical expenses, and do without so her needs were met. They didn't seem important. If all of our efforts gave us another day with her, it was worth the sacrifice.

In her last year, Buttons had to be supervised 24/7. Her hearing wasn't the best, and her "navigation" skills weren't what the used to be either. On her last day, June 24th, she told me it was time to go. I could tell things just weren't right. She hardly moved, and when she did try, she staggered. I'm thankful that I had some time to spend with her. I played her favorite music, talked to her, and scratched her belly. I knew it was the last time I'd ever be able to "talk" to her, so I reminisced about the good times, the bad times, and everything in between. I made sure to tell her I loved her over and over again. She looked up at me, much like she did that first day, and she gave me a kiss. It was our special goodbye. Within and hour, she took a turn for the worse. She had several seizures, and we rushed her to the vet. Buttons had a massive stroke. The doctor told us there was nothing more they could do, but we knew. For the first time in her life, Buttons cried. She was in pain. We signed the papers to have her put down. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. I knew I had to do it. I owed it to her. The vet gave us some time alone with her to say goodbye. As she prepared the injection, Buttons had yet another stroke. She was screaming and crying, and the vet rushed back into the room. She wanted to take my baby away so we wouldn't have to see, but I wouldn't let them take her from me. I wanted to be by her side. I wanted to whisper how wonderful she was into her ear as she went to sleep. I held her, and I told her over and over again that I loved her. Within seconds, she was gone. We stayed in that room with her for an hour. I didn't want to let go. We decided as a family that we wanted her to come home again, with the family where she belongs. She was cremated, and now not only will she always be in our hearts, but her physical presence will also still be with us.

By now, I'm sure that your eyes are weary from all that I've written about my special friend. Some may wonder why I've gone to such great detail. My reasons are simple. There are many dogs out there that don't have the chances that Buttons did. My first objective is to stop the suffering of dogs like Buttons. Buttons was the product of a puppy mill. Many people don't know what that means. I had no idea when I brought her into my life. Pet stores DO NOT get their dogs from reputable breeders. They are often cross-bred, creating more and more birth defects and health conditions. DO NOT purchase a dog from a pet store. It only encourages them to continue their destructive behavior. If you don't buy, they go out of business. If they go out of business, that's one less puppy mill in operation. My second piece of advice is this. If you DO happen to have a dog with a disability, disease, or other condition, don't give up on them. They deserve so much more than that. I thank god that we took Buttons, because if another family had purchased her, she may not have lived a long, happy life despite all her problems. The likelihood that she would have been put down simply because they didn't want to deal with the burden is very high. She still loved us, whether she could see us or not. The first thing Buttons would do after you stuck her with a needle was nuzzle up to you for a hug. Despite her disabilities, she was happy, and she had a family that loved her dearly. If you see an dog in need, help them. Love your dogs while you have them, because one day, you won't have the chance to hold them in your arms.

Buttons, I will see you again soon. One day we'll meet at the Rainbow Bridge. Until then, Uncle Jim, Grandpap, and Grandma will take care of you. Spanky is there, too. Be nice, and share your toys. :) Make a happy plate girl! You can have whatever you want now. McDonalds hammy-burgers! Fergie misses you, as do Aunt Pat & Uncle Phil. I know you're here with me. I can see you in my dreams. I miss you so much, and I think about you all the time. Thank you for all you brought to our lives. Mommy, Daddy, and Ally all love you so. You will NEVER, EVER be forgotten. Happiness followed you wherever you went, and you left your paw print on the hearts of many, many people. Love you, Bubby. xoxoxo

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