The Butch Life

by Jim Madden April 28, 2011

First, we would like to thank everyone for your kind words and support on the passing of our very special companion, Butch. In this difficult time we write this as much to inform all of Butch’s life and as a catharsis for us as we process our loss.

Many of you have asked what happened now that we have given Butch his final rest. Forgive me if this gets a bit poetic. Butch was the main focal point of Richie’s and my life for the last 12 ½ years. Every move we made was with his needs included.

From the time that Richie and I decided we would spend our lives together, we wanted a dog. We just had trouble deciding which one. Tim Baradet hosted a party while he was attending UPENN. The next door neighbor brought his dog over. It was a Komondor. Richie and I both fell in love and immediately said, “That’s the dog we want.”

Butch came home for the first time when we were living in Philadelphia, January 1999. Most of you know how obsessed we were about him and he rewarded us for it many times over. We bought him a house in New Jersey for the big yard but the real selling point was the big spa tub in the master suite that he could get his 3+ hour baths and Richie could get in too.

It was preordained that we would show him and Richie would handle him in the ring. On his way to becoming a Champion (CH. Indian Run Acel Ropi) Butch garnered a Best of Breed at Trenton Kennel Club along with a Group IV placing at the same meet. People always wanted to meet him and touch him which he gladly obliged, though Komondors are not widely known for their graciousness.

Butch went camping with us and introduced us to the notion that sleeping in a tent didn’t have to be austere and we began taking little touches of home with us such as area rugs and box fans. He always knew his place – the center of attention – and was a perfect gentleman with strangers. He even took a swim in the Delaware River.

He was the father of 2 beautiful litters of puppies. We have one from each. Cora is the oldest and will have her own story as her appearance in this world was nothing short of miraculous. Josh is smaller than most males but presents the constant notion that dogs do have a sense of humor.

When the weather was right, Butch loved to lay in the grass in the back yard. In full coat, his cords were beautifully contrasting to the green grass. In his youth, he loved to chase his ball before he would unceremoniously tear it apart. No stuffed animal was long for the world in Butch’s possession. We used to give him one and time him to see how long it took for all the stuffing to be removed.

He was the quintessential guard dog, for which they are bred. No sound outside the house occurred without a report from the boss.

In 2007, he developed a cancerous mass on his right shoulder. It was removed successfully and he remained cancer free for the rest of his life. We attributed that to the alternative medical treatment he received and our changing him over to a completely raw diet.

Not long after he recovered from surgery, we noticed a drastic slow down in his activity. On a regular vet visit, he was diagnosed with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. When treated for that, he became more active again.

As he aged, he did begin to show signs of arthritis and neuropathy in his hind quarters and would eventually need assistance to get around. Recently, his neuropathy began to affect his breathing. On Monday April 26, he spit up some fluid and was retching but it subsided almost immediately. Later that day, he was enjoying his evening in the yard barking at all the night sounds and in recent months, his bark had become more of a whisper.

When we brought him in the house for the night the vomiting reoccurred becoming more pronounced and voluminous. We took him to the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was kept overnight.

He was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis that was causing him to gag and his vomiting was an attempt to clear his air way and get more air in his lungs. He was panting and his blood oxygen was decreasing. The hospital said a surgery was possible but carried many risks which we decided were too much through which to put our dear companion.

Butch was the last of his litter to survive. He had never complained one bit for all the trials we put him through, including several ridiculous outfits and hats. Posed for thousands upon thousands of photographs, most notable among them were the annual birthday parties we throw for all our pets that also include the wearing of party hats and noisemakers and always a meat ‘cake.’ When we were late getting home from being out for one reason or another, he never complained about how long he had to ‘hold it.’

For all this, Richie & I agreed to let Butch go to his rest with all his dignity intact. We took him for an assisted walk in the front yard where Butch marked some new spots that Josh will never smell. He rested under the cypress tree closest to the road and watched the cars go by. He came back in the house and lay down to watch TV. Butch loved his television shows.

Butch had a profound impact on our lives and he will never really leave us. We can never forget the responses we would get from simply walking into the room. He was living proof that dogs do love unconditionally.

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