Buddy is an amazing dog with an amazing background. He was once part of a Los Angeles animal acting group along with his brother dog who carries the umbrella in the Traveler’s Insurance commercial. However, Buddy’s own acting career floundered, and he found himself at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus shelter. Fortune found Buddy when he was adopted by Steven Garey, a famous concert pianist who is the last living protégé’ of the late great Liberace. Buddy was Steven’s best “buddy” until tragedy struck and Steven became severely disabled during a random crime.
I drove to Palm Springs to meet Steven and Buddy when Loving All Animals was contacted about a gentleman who could no longer care for his dog. The apartment building for disabled seniors was a dreary building, but Steven’s upstairs unit contained a beautiful piano and memorabilia from his show business career. It was the day before Steven’s 54th birthday, a birthday he shared with Buddy who was turning 4. The West Highland Terrier blend was an appealing and friendly character.
The owner sadly explained, “I say goodbye to Buddy every day. It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop. The first shoe that dropped was reaching the decision to give him up. I want him to get adopted quickly, so that I can get over the grieving process.” This was unlike any other owner relinquishment that sometimes involve “frivolous” reasons such as one I heard,”the dog doesn’t match our new carpet”. I suggested options like arranging for a dog walker, but Steven was adamant that Buddy deserved more.
“Buddy I love you. God bless you,” were Steven’s final words to his beloved pet as we made our final exit. He turned his back so as not to see us leave. Tears streamed down my face as Buddy and I made our way out into the warm evening. Buddy loves car trips and seemed happy at the prospect of another ride, seemingly unaware that his life was taking on a new chapter. At his foster home, Buddy was thrilled to have other dogs to play with. I slipped out the door quietly, letting him be in the moment with his fellow canines.
Buddy’s journey to a new home was not an easy one. The small dog went through several foster homes, one of them returning him because of upcoming surgery and another when he snarled through the front door at her grandson. We discovered that Buddy had a curious habit of nipping at the heels of certain young men. He never bit anyone, but his behavior was cause for alarm by anyone who had house guests. Finally, the Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace graciously offered to house Buddy.
A nice family from Encino saw Buddy’s cute face in an email and decided to “foster to adopt”. Buddy locked eyes with me as they left, and I could sense his uncertainty. Two weeks later, Buddy attempted to nip at a young male visitor. I recommended training, but once they made the decision to return him, Buddy started to urinate inside the home. I also learned the wife’s cancer had returned. They were sorry, but could not deal with his issues.
I retrieved Buddy at a Starbucks along the 10 freeway. He was happy to see me as I was now his one thread of continuity. There was a whimsical sadness in Buddy that lurked just beneath the surface. My theory is that Buddy instinctively knew his new owner had a serious illness, and reverted to his familiar role of protecting someone with a medical condition. I wondered if Buddy wouldn’t do best in a home with a single woman or a gay female couple. Buddy’s ankle nipping had the potential to put a damper on a single gal’s dating life!
Buddy and I were scheduled for the Channel 2 television pet segment. Steven, Buddy’s previous owner, called and advised me to make this a happy story emphasizing his Hollywood roots. He suggested I tell of Buddy’s heroism when he summoned help after Steven had a bad fall. This would not be another sad tale about a homeless dog.
One of the calls that came in was from Meredith Asher, widow of the renowned Hollywood director William Asher (Bewitched, I Love Lucy, etc). Meredith was thinking about getting a dog for companionship, and she was intrigued by Buddy’s show business background. Their first meeting went well, a milestone for a dog who usually reserves his affection for a second meeting. The theme song “Movin’ on Up” played through my head when I delivered him to Meredith’s beautiful home, and I admonished Buddy that he better not blow this situation. He happily checked out his new digs, and played with his beloved squeaky toy. Buddy’s face is a mirror to his soul, and I sensed he was okay. That day he went to visit some of Meredith’s friends who approved of the new pet.
A voice mail from Meredith reported, “Buddy is absolutely perfect! He’s doing just fine….I got him a little house which he sleeps in inside my bedroom because he didn’t like being in the kitchen. Just as long as he can see me, he’s very happy!” Buddy helps keep Meredith in shape as the two go for daily walks and runs. Meredith reports he has no destructive habits, and is a patient and loving companion. Buddy now lives like a little prince in another home surrounded by Hollywood memorabilia! The sad look in his eyes is gone now that he’s in a loving home he’ll never have to leave. Buddy’s story has a happy ending, just like an old Hollywood movie.