In Memory of Thunder
Thunder was a dog that we rescued from an elderly gentleman in Dallas who could no longer care for his animals. We picked him up at a coffee shop one late April afternoon and drove him the whole way home to Austin. He stank of junkyard and the skin on his body was riddled with infection. The first thing we did was give him a bath, twice. The next day we took him to the vet where he was neutered and the folds in his eye that had become so inflamed and red from infection fixed. For more than a month he was on antibiotics and other medicine to help his skin heal. After that he felt much better but he still had trouble breathing and many of his teeth were rotten so not long after he went to the vet again and had a thorough teeth cleaning, several dead teeth removed and his nostrils enlarged. We put him on a special diet to clear up his skin allergies and once he recovered he was a new dog. For the next four years he was loved to pieces. He was passionate about tennis balls and could play for hours on his own chasing his ball back and forth in the yard, picking up the ball in his mouth then dropping it and kicking it forward with his paws. He loved the water hose and whenever we watered the garden in the hot Texas summers he’d chase the spray and try to eat the water as it drenched his face and body. One day Thunder was outside and we noticed he was having a hard time peeing. There was blood in his urine and we were worried so we took him back to the vet. The vet told us he had a tumor in his bladder and that it needed to be removed. All through his illness Thunder smiled. His long tongue reached down to his side and he always had a happy face to greet everyone he encountered. He had another surgery and the doctors at the animal hospital removed half his bladder and most of the tumor. They told us he had a form of canine bladder cancer and there was no cure. So we gave him medicine to help with the pain and slow the growth of a new tumor. At night he would jump up on our belly and snuggle us as we watched tv and petted his thick yellow fur. You couldn’t tell his way sick, he kept smiling. We called him the Buddha dog because no matter what the circumstance, no matter what pain he was suffering he exuded joy and love. Winter came and Thunder began to slow down. He had trouble keeping his food down and began to throw up in the evenings. Using the bathroom became hard for him and one morning we woke up and Thunder was not himself. He didn’t want to eat anything, even though he would have eaten anything in the past. Once he had eaten a whole box of crayons and for a couple of days his poop had been a rainbow of waxy colors. It made us laugh. But on that morning Thunder didn’t want to eat. He didn’t want to drink from his water bowl and he just lay there on the floor, his sad eyes looking up at us. We decided it was time to take him to the vet, something was dreadfully wrong. When we got to the vet Thunder took one more look at us and decided for himself that he really didn’t want to have another test run. He died in our arms, the life blinking out of him. We cried. The whole day we cried from six in the morning to well past dinner time. He was gone. We took him home that day and laid him in his favorite bed. We petted his soft fur and told him again and again how much we loved him. We thanked him for teaching us about compassion, generosity, and love. We dug a hole in the garden underneath a fig tree and laid his body in the earth. We bought yellow flowers to match his tennis balls that he loved so much. We put a tiny stone Buddha in with him, a handful of colored crayons, and a starfish to accompany on his journey. He looked so peaceful and joyous. Then we covered his body in earth and our tears. The house was quiet now, no more gentle snoring, no more ears that perked up at the slightest sounds coming from the kitchen. He had had more lives than a cat we said. And when he was gone a hole the size of a bulldog was left in our hearts.
There are special dogs and then there are dogs that change your life forever. Thunder was one of those dogs. He taught us how to be better people, how to love unconditionally and play even in the face of death. We will forever remember him, forever love him, and forever be better humans because he showed us how. We want to thank the French Bulldog Rescue Network for this gift of Thunder, our Buddha dog. We love you. You’re the best good boy we ever had.