Those of you who have followed the post for a while know that our dear dog Bucks has been ailing for some time.

We raced home from Cedar Key to be able to lay him to rest in our New Hope garden …. but once we arrived home, he had other ideas …. enjoying all his favorite spots and sniffs and walks. But it was clear his back legs were very weak – plus only seeing with a third of his vision, and arthritis, and diabetes … However, he prevailed for another 6 weeks and his legs held until the day after I finished my manuscripts rewrite — literally.

Walking in the park – every day – for a short stint.

He’d rest after his walk, while we walked further

The grand old dog … in the back of the Jeep.

. . . . .  .







He sat up, attentively listening as I read the final chapter to John, and the next day, his left leg no longer worked.  With much sadness, we made the appointment with the vet for May 31, and prepared for our parting. It was excruciating, waiting for the vet to come out to our Jeep to administer the shot. Bucks didn’t want to go. He wouldn’t kiss me, but over the 45 minutes he consented, covering my face with kisses, saying goodbye, as he said hello on the very first day. I didn’t wash my face for two days.

Once he passed, I felt relieved. My boy’s body wasn’t working anymore but he kept going to support me….as he always has. He was much more than a dog. He was a presence, with many emotions and opinions, which he let us know in no uncertain terms.  He taught us how to be better human beings. The rich, hot tears I cry for him – in unexpected moments – are so full of love – I’d have to call them sweet. Bitter sweet and satisfying … because you can’t cry for that kind of love unless you’ve lived it.

The process of bringing him home – to bury in the garden – included letting Daisy sniff Bucks body.  She did, tentatively and repeatedly as we carried him down to his grave and positioned him in it.

John at Buck’s Grave in the Garden


Afterwards, she checked the bathroom which had been Buck’s cave Where did he go? Because it certainly wasn’t Bucks in that still body … yet it still smelled like him.  I remember Bucks had no interest in his brother Oscar’s burial. But Daisy certainly paid attention. Bucks played a big role in Daisy’s adjustment to our home and we can see she is trying to figure out what happened.  We keep her close.

They never stop teaching us, do they -and their specialty is valuing life.  Lifting Bucks after he passed was astonishing. All our bone and muscle comes to nothing without pumping blood. Bucks’s body was limp, mush, like a beanie bag. I marvel of our physical structure and the fragility of it. Thornton Wilder wrote the play Our Town and asked the question: “Does anyone really appreciate life while they live it? Every, Every minute?” He answered: “The Saints, maybe.”  But I know the dogs do, definitely, and Bucks had a special knack for it.

Swimming with Bucks – July 2011

Below are some stories of his life with us.

I shall never know another dog like Bucks, unless he reincarnates and finds us again. That would be lovely. But in the meantime, I have him in my heart in a place only he could carve. Dear sweet wild one – you brought your best and the best out of us. xoxo “Buckarooo we love you!”

Maura McNamara with Bucks 2006?









Middle Years












Bucks came into our life in May, 1999. We’d gone out to buy some field grown flowers – just outside of Carversville, PA.

First Day with Bucks – May 1999

The garden owner came out to meet us and we got to talking. He was a Portuguese immigrant, a former shipboard romance jockey (as John liked to call him) who finally got nabbed by an American woman who brought him to PA.  He also loved to hunt and invited us to meet his new puppies, whom he’d bred with his own English Setter and a client’s blond Lab.  He wanted a hunting dog who pointed AND retrieved.  He got ’em.

Not having ever had a dog of my own …. and being the morning person in our household, I was reluctant. John had been talking about getting a dog but I knew who would take care of it.  So I wandered around the property as John approached the pen.

Most all of the dogs rushed to the fence – but one – black with a bit of white on his chest, sat back, wagging his tail furiously and his face – ah, “Que belo rosto”, (Portuguese for “what a beautiful face”). His face was so sweet, kind and open.  John picked him up and set him down outside the fence and he ran in circles – around and around and around and then came to me, licking every bit of my face with his oversized, downy-soft pink tongue. Very Cute! Still, I was reluctant. “Can we bring him back if it doesn’t work out?” I asked. “Sure, Sure,” Mr. Mario said but he knew it was  unlikely.

Riding home in the open air Jeep, the pup danced on my lap. Because he was so beautiful and we were driving through the most beautiful county of Bucks at the most beautiful time of years, we named him Beautiful Bucks. We then stopped by our friends Jennifer and Howard’s – thinking they might like to have this puppy.  But no – they wanted a blond lab. He wasn’t interested in them either. John set Bucks down along the creek on their property and he scramble over the giant rocks to follow me  … stopping on a moss covered rock, surrounded by May Apples. “Oooooo,” I made a mental note to bring him back the next day and take that picture …. so glad I did.

First Flea Market — and he is hot!

After the first sleepless night (I wouldn’t let him on the bed and he whimpered all night), I went to work, bedraggled, and swore he was going back.  But … as life works in its mysterious ways … that evening, a mason stopped by to consult on a job and saw Bucks and convinced me that it would work out fine. That night I let Bucks sleep with us and … I was a gonner.  Bucks became mine., and I was always his, in deeper ways than I could ever understand or dream.


At 4 months, he traveled to Chicago with John – sliding across the back seat in his box as they swagged through the hills of West Virginia. At 6 months he came to Lake George with me where he learned he could swim, and promptly took off after the ducks swimming quite a ways off. That was the beginning of my hunting dog.

Thirteen years of adventure ensued. On the canal and fields and streams of New Hope and Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and 23 other states.  He was a perfect travel dog.   We gave him a lot of freedom – not wanting to squash his natural spirit – and I regret admonishing him on his first duck catch when he was under a year. By instinct, a bird dog, and more than once I found myself standing in the canal, protecting a hurt goose from Buck’s jaws — because while Bucks bounded all around the goose in the canal, he would not come near enough for me to catch him.  Embarrassing times, especially with gawking tourists.

Bucks also loved groundhogs – which he was not fast enough to catch – but could scout out.

OSCAR and BUCKS Dynamic Duo


where did they go? Bucks asks






Later on, when his brother, Oscar, joined our family —– Oscar’s owners were our neighbors who scooped him out of the litter the day after we brought Bucks home and the two spent the first two years together before our neighbors moved (so sad) but then they had two kids before getting divorced so Oscar came home to us (so glad!) —- Bucks and Oscar became a spectacular Hunting Team – Bucks the Scout and Oscar the Sprinter – catching nearly everything. While Oscar had a tracking nose and a Setter body – I clocked him at 35MPH – Bucks was the brains — when he got a scent, he immediately looked up, to gauge where the prey had gone, while Oscar would just follow it without thinking ahead.  But Oscar knew to follow Bucks lead until the prey was in sight and then he’d zoom  and wham! nabbing that groundhog or muskrat or rabbit and bring it back with such pride.

Where Bucks outhunted Oscar was with fawns.  This was a controversial area – some people loved the reduction in the deer population, others were horrified. I didn’t like it much – in the fields, hearing the baby cry and knowing there was nothing I could do … but if I spied the fawn first, I steered Bucks in another direction.

Another Fawn I saved ! Really, Held it in my arms.


When Bucks and Oscar were around 5, I took them to the Ravine -a gully between two hills in New Hope, where they could run free.  They were having a great time, returning to check in with me, and then off again, when I heard the cry.  Fawns sound just like human babies.  I bolted, running along the stream, when I spotted them up a steep hillside, surrounding a fawn, with the mother deer further up the hill, running back and forth in terror.  I yelled as I clawed up that nearly vertical hillside and got to them as their mouths closed in on its tiny body. Screaming NO and STOP and GET BACK, I scrambled to grab them – digging my hands on their scruff and  holding tight as I pulled them away.  As I tried to figure out what to do next, how to leash two wild dogs with no extra hands, tThe fawn got up, wobbling away a few feet but then collapsed in a heap. My heart sank at its demise. Both dogs strained to get free, my hands ached, then Bucks lurched, wrenching free and raced to the downed fawn.  My anger surged, commanding Oscar to stay, which he did, and ran after  Bucks circling the Fawn, tripping, my glasses flying, panicking,  my resolve sinking — when I yelled at myself “get it together!” and looked up, found the glasses, grabbed Bucks off the not-moving fawn and dragged him back to where Oscar twitched for his turn at the fawn. With one hand clamped on each dog, and Bucks still straining to get back to the prey – pulling hard against my weakening grip, nothing I was saying was getting his attention, to thwart his hunting instinct, so I followed my own instinct – the mother instinct — and bit his ear, hard.  He squealed and stopped squirming, looking at me with eyes that said: “Oh, it’s you!” Yeah, I said back to my now calm dog. Then I could let go of Oscar to leash up Bucks and marched them both home in a cloud of fury – my overalls smudged with dirt, my aura black, drawing stares from drivers passing us on the street.

The next day, I took them back to the Ravine, leashed, to the scene of the crime.  I wanted to show the boys the damage they did.  But when we entered the Ravine, we saw two deer run back into the bushes to our left.  That was odd – and made me wonder if perhaps the fawn had survived and they were protecting it.  We marched directly to the site were we’d left the fawn — and she wasn’t there!  I was relieved. We stayed out of the Ravine for the next two months, giving all of the young-uns a chance to get big enough to outrun the dogs (that’s what our Vet advised.)

About three months later … when I was gardening in my back yard along the creek, wearing the same overalls, I heard a noise and turned to see, standing in the creek, a mama deer, a two month fawn and another one – at least a month older. They looked at me. Besides the awe of seeing them, I felt some connection as I stood in my overalls, trowel in hand. “Hello” I said and asked. “Is that you?” As if on cue, the mother and little fawn stepped back but the older fawn stepped forward, as if she knew my voice.  Could it be the fawn I tried to protect?  Coming by to see me and let me know it all worked out?  “Oh, Dearie, it is you!” I said and believe …. as I believe the  full grown deer who came to our yard the next year, pregnant,  and all the years after, bringing her offspring to show us …. is one and the same Dearie.

This is Dearie – pregnant


Dearie had a very specific nose marking.


Some beings draw you in for no logical reason. Bucks was that for me. I didn’t understand why I felt so connected with him. And the love I felt for him was huge. It made no sense to me but that’s what I felt.

A psychic told me that bucks and I go way back. That we first met in the time of the Druids – where he was the soldier who saved me from being the virgin sacrificed and has been with me ever since.  That’s a lotta lives. Be that true or not, I cannot deny I was nuts about the boy — he just drew my heart strings taut – as not other being has — and no matter what was going on – good, bad, ugly, – he was vigilant and caring.

He taught John and me how to fight fairly. Whenever our discussion would take on a certain caustic note, Bucks would slink out of the room, usually up the stairs. When we finally noticed his behavior, we used it to modify our own.  Thanks, Bucks.

He was also a safety barometer regarding other people. Generally he welcomed everyone – but when he made a point to walk around someone or give a short growl (very rare), we heeded his advice.

2003 – Ring Bearer at our Wedding

More than anything else, Bucks was a constant. His overall being was the same from the first day to the last. I imagine him in heaven, looking like he did in this life –  romping with Oscar and the cats and our friend Diane and my Mom … but I also imagine what his shadow looks like – outlining not his dog life but his many lives of learning how to live and love. An image I see to be glowing and massive … hugely massive and kind.

No Better Soul to have Nurtured or Be Nurtured By.   Definitely a Blessing.

xo Laura

2008 -His favorite spot on the Patio Bench



12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jeff & Suzanne on June 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Such a beautiful tribute to Bucks, Laura. Our hearts and thoughts go out to you and John. We will miss that boy on the beach and at the Lively Oak Cottage.


  2. Posted by Harald Poth on June 4, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Thank you for writing down your thoughts and memories of Bucks, and Oscar, too. It made me smile to recall my own memories of them.


  3. Posted by Linda on June 4, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Damn it you made me cry! What a cutie puppy pie he was. It was a wonderful memorial for Mr. Bucks. Those tears you talk about are for me at least the most painful. If there are angels, they are diffinitely canine. Crying again as I write this. Love to you and John


    • Tears of loving – yes, painful. He invaded my dreams last night. I think he’s having a good time but staying close. xoxo to you, too LAURA Laura Matson Hahn New Hope, PAwww.conversationfarm.co



  4. Posted by Gerry on June 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Bucks enriched my day every time I saw him. My heart weeps for you, who mourn him. With any luck, we all will walk together in sunshine on the other side. xox


  5. Posted by Maura on June 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Oh Laura I’m so sad and crying my eyes out. What a special special boy he was,you both were s0o lucky and blessed to have shared that time with Bucks. Love you so much xoxoxo


    • Yes it is true! sooo lucky — and so lucky you shared him, too. What good times we had at the ravine and in the garden and meadow. It is hard to believe it was only 13 short years. It felt like a lifetime worth of memories, not just a dozen plus one. xoxo LAURA Laura Matson Hahn New Hope, PAwww.conversationfarm.co



  6. Glowing tribute to Bucks and the love he gave to you and John. The Bucks Boy truly imparted the spirit of the word “dog” when you spell it backwards, as I’ve often heard you say, Laura.

    Much love.


  7. Oh, I am crying! Darling Bucks. Reading his whole story makes the tears flow. What a wonderful, wonderful spirit he was. We love you Buckarooooo! Siempre y que descanse en paz. – Ran and Dorothy and Carter


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