The community of Woodhill lost a dear friend and neighbor Dec. 14. Part of the tragedy is it was so unexpected and just days before Christmas.
Our friend was only 10 years old. He could do back flips and chase down a ball faster than you could say his name ... Buster.
He protected his ball with his life. In fact, once a dog tried to take it away from him at the off-leash park, but Buster held on, despite $400 in puncture wounds to himself.
To some, he may have been just a dog, but to his guardian, he was a best friend and companion.
The hardest part is knowing that the person who ran over him in front of his house is our neighbor, too.
Buster's owner will tell you it was not the driver's fault. Buster ran out into the street. Buster's owner was feet away from him when the accident happened. She called for help and was heard by a neighbor who rushed her and Buster to the only veterinarian still open on a Friday afternoon.
The vet did his best to stabilize the fragile, little dog with the spirit of a lion. He was then put into the neighbor's truck and rushed down the hill to an emergency clinic. The ride took an hour and a half, but it seemed much longer, listening to Buster's whimpers as he went into shock.
Buster had multiple fractures to his pelvis and legs, but the doctors assured his owner that their orthopedic surgeon was one of the best and Buster could be his old self in a few months, barring no internal injuries. This was hopeful news and his owner went home, knowing there was nothing more she could do for him that night.
The next morning the call came that our little friend had internal injuries. Surgery was risky and the cost would be great. There was no guarantee that the little energetic dog would be able to chase down his ball as he was used to doing.
Buster's guardian made the difficult decision of saying goodbye to her companion who had been through thick and thin with her. She held his little broken body while the veterinarian euthanized him.
She still doesn't know how she can go on without him. She blames herself for not watching him more closely while they performed the task they had done so many times before -- getting the mail. We've all let our guard down from time to time. Any of our pets or children could have fallen victim under the same combination of circumstances.
If the driver who ran over Buster is reading these words, I hope they realize that it's not their fault they ran over this dog. It was a terrible accident. I do, however, struggle with how they could leave a fellow neighbor desperately in need of help in their rearview mirror while they went home for dinner 11 days before Christmas.
Buster lived on West Sherwood Drive in Woodhill. A memorial is planned at Green Valley Park, Jan. 8. I think it will be well-attended because he sure could draw a crowd while performing his acrobatic stunts. He is missed by all who witnessed his unrivaled spirit.
See you later, little friend
Because we know it's not the end
Hope to see you in God's halls
With the angels, playing ball.