A Send Off for Buck

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell everyone that Buck died on Friday from complications due to his surgery.

Air started sucking into his chest cavity through the surgical incisions that were likely loosened due to infection. The air in his chest cavity created pressure that would not let his lungs inflate when he was trying to breathe. When he stopped breathing all together, I gave him mouth to nose resuscitation which cleared a fluid blockage in his windpipe and he started breathing again. Tori and I rushed him to the veterinary emergency where they drained some of the air on top of his lungs, put him on oxygen and gave him some pain killers to make him more comfortable.

They told us he needed emergency surgery that would cost as much as $12,000 and that they were very uncertain he would survive it, and also that they didn’t know if they could fix the problem. They told us that he would not survive much longer in his current condition and it was obvious that it was causing him serious discomfort. We decided that the surgery did not make sense and were left with no other real option than to say goodbye to our precious Buckaroo. It came as a bit of a shock because we thought he was going to pull through.

It goes without saying that Buck was a once-in-a-lifetime dog. His temperament and demeanour made him very stress-free and fun to be around. He is the kind of dog that everyone wants. He got along very well with people of all ages, other dogs and he even amazingly tolerated our cats. And at the same time, he did really cool stuff. He towed sleds across the Arctic wilderness, enjoyed sleeping outside in cold temps while we were winter camping, his favourite treat was frozen raw fish. He’d also regularly help himself to any blueberry patches we crossed too.

He was a good hunter (not for me but for himself) and has killed more mice than our cats! He was a great swimmer. He was amazing at running around rapids and meeting us at the end to jump back in the canoe after we paddled them. He backpacked across the Rockies with us where he forded rushing rivers and carried his own pack, he even chased off a bear that burst into our campsite on one occasion.

Buck was on the Discovery Channel, History Channel and in multiple Explore magazine articles, as well as Canoe & Kayak, Outdoor Canada and Field & Stream magazines where he often appeared in web video series. He was even sponsored!

He crossed the Ungava Peninsula with me and Baffin Island too on long winter treks, he canoed the East Natashquan, Porcupine, and Mountain Rivers and came along on many other long canoe trips and winter camping treks.

We got him from a legendary indigenous elder named Alex Mathias who lives in the bush in the Temagami Region of Northern Ontario. Buck was the last of Alex’s branch of the bloodline of dogs that were bread in the Temagami Region – a mixture of Alaskan Husky and Alaskan Malamute. Thick, strong and hearty dogs, they were used to pull sleds and freight on the traplines for many years.

On top of all this, his calm, yet playful and almost cartoon-like demeanour made his personality irresistible. He was a character in the best sense of the word. And additionally, his majestic and regal, wolf-like appearance was often remarkable.

They say we experience sadness when we’ve lost something that supports our self-identity. And also that our sadness is important because it sanctifies the thing lost. Sadness fully expressed allows us to honor the missing aspect in our lives. This couldn’t be more true because I feel like a part of me is missing. And I’ve definitely been searching for ways to sanctify Buck. And I’ve come to realize that he will live on as a legend in our thoughts and minds – and his bloodline will live on as a part of our history. It is my belief that his energy will become part of everything. The grass, the trees, the earth, the animals, even the north wind. And on a scientific note, it is thought by many physicists, philosophers and psychologists alike that there is some form of conciseness behind matter – even potentially space and time. This has already helped me to begin moving on towards recultivating as best I can what I feel I’m now missing in life. Though I know there will never be another Buck.

After returning home from the vet, it was heartbreaking to find Buck’s footprints in the show around our house. I touched them, and then I watched them slowly melt with the warming weather we’re having. I feel happy that Buck got to live as a free dog in the last couple years of his life at our property here on the Magnetawan River where he had no fences and went on regular hikes with us. It’s an awesome place to call home for both dog and human alike.

In all, Buck’s life was the stuff movies are made of and I’m very happy I got to be part of his pack. I bet my life on his companionship and loyalty more than once. Thanks for everything Buck! You were such a good boy!

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