A man and his dog….

“God, I need a faithful friend who will love me unconditionally.” This silent prayer was uttered from the loneliest part of my soul. For too long, I had been solo. The constant barrage of beatings that life has been handing me seems to have no end.

I sat under the oak trees that provides shade from the life-sucking heat of a Tennessee summer. Constantly, I glance down the road, waiting impatiently for something to happen. When out of nowhere walks this small Beagle puppy. “Hey there buddy, come here.” Obediently, he wanders over to where I am sitting. I reach down and rub his ears. He turns his head left and then right, so that I can reach the place where he itches the most. My mother and father watch as I quickly make friends with the pup. “Are you going to keep him?” I smile. “Yeah, I think so.”

With the day’s work complete, I load my gear into my truck, I grab Buddy and we head back home to Mississippi. Buddy nudges my hand and I rub his tiny, round head. We are inseparable. The first couple of weeks pass by quickly, and Buddy seems to be having a hard time adjusting to his new location. He howls all night. Me and Buddy have several discussions how this impacts my sleep, but my argument with my best friend proves to be a futile battle. He continues to howl, and I bury my head into my pillow.

One morning, I get up and walk outside to watch the sun rise. Buddy is nowhere to be seen. I call for him and he doesn’t come. I feel like my heart is being ripped into pieces. I wait and call, but he doesn’t come home. Driving slowly down the old country back roads, I look for my best friend. He is nowhere to be found. “Where is my friend?”

The next morning I walk to my mailbox, the sun is hidden behind the dark clouds that loom with the promise of rain. I hear the rattle of a familiar truck and I see my neighbor Dee coming down the road. “Hey son, are you missing a puppy?” I blink back tears. “Yes sir. A small Beagle, he answers to Buddy.” The look on his face gave me the bad news. “I’m sorry son. Your puppy is up near the gate to your property. A county worker found him and told me about him.” I nod. “Thanks Dee.”

I walk toward the gate each step breaks off a small piece of my heart. Memories of death flood my mind and the eerie silence fills my soul. Tossed on the other side of my fence lies the body of my buddy. My bottom lip quivers and I force myself to stop from sobbing. Falling to my knees, I cradle Buddy’s lifeless body. Every moment of laughter he brought me played in my mind. Every day that I struggled with my anger and PTSD, that he helped me through, reminds me of what I had lost. I haven’t lost a dog; I’ve lost my friend. Much like God Almighty, Buddy loved me no matter what I did. Buddy didn’t judge me. We roamed the hills around my house, and now he roams the golden streets of Heaven.

I miss him, but he lives on in my memories.

Freeman out.

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