It’s pronounced “Pie-yote”

Greetings from Pyote, Texas.

Buster died last Saturday. He was 14 ½ years old, and his health had been declining pretty noticeably over the past few months. He was almost completely deaf, had a weak liver, declining kidneys, a heart murmur and congestive heart failure, which caused him to cough a lot, and he farted when he coughed. But what really got him was the arthritis and weakening back legs. He gave up his daily walks in early June — he just refused to go beyond the front gate. As time when on,  he fell more often. His back legs would just give out and down he’d go and we’d have to pick him back up — he couldn’t do it himself. But his appetite remained strong and his mood was always cheerful.

But Friday night, he struggled to get up to go outside to do his business. He fell  into his poop. I picked him back up, but he fell again. He could neither stand nor walk. So I got a hot washrag, cleaned him up, and carried all 72 lbs of the most lovable dog in the world to bed for the night.

Sometimes after a good night sleep, he’d be better the next morning. Not this time. When we got up, we found that he still couldn’t walk or even stand. Not even for his breakfast or to do his business outside. So it was time. We brought him back to the bed and cuddled with him for the last time until the vet could see him later that morning. And we cuddled him some more at the vet’s office as he drifted off to sleep.

So yeah, we’re sad. It’s always surprising how much grief comes with the death of a pet. But let’s not dwell on that, because it’ll pass and there will be another equally wonderful dog to come along and rescue us.  Meanwhile, we’ve noticed that because Buster has been much too frail to leave in the care of a kennel, we haven’t been able to take any trips since last Thanksgiving.

So yesterday we packed the car and left our home in Tucson for a massive road trip with only the vaguest idea of an itinerary.  We made it through El Paso (ELPASOSTRONG!), stopped overnight at Van Horn, and now we’re headed to Abilene to visit Chris’s parents.

From there, we’re headed east across the Deep South, looking for America. We’ll be looking for it in Selma and Montgomery, Demopolis and Tuscaloosa, Meridian and Birmingham. We’re looking in those battlegrounds, because in these dark times, we all need to learn from the examples set by those foot soldiers.

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