It seems like just yesterday that our family answered a want ad from the Manney’s Shopper for a free dog.

I remember being a little apprehensive when meeting with the older couple looking to find a suitable home for their beloved pet. They were moving out of state, going from a rural setting to more of a city scene.

The dog, named Buster, appeared quite average and was medium in size.

Buster, it turned out, also had the one trait our family longed for in a dog — he could fetch a tennis ball.

We soon found out that Buster was quite vocal when it came to wanting a human to throw him a tennis ball.

“Arf, arf, arf,” he barked.

After a pause, he’d let out three more barks, unless someone finally caved in and threw his ball.

We ended up adopting Buster and he became part of our family.

This fall it’ll be six years since we welcomed Buster into our home.

Buster is now starting to show some signs of aging. His hearing isn’t what it used to be, his eyes are a bit cloudy, he’s lost weight and muscle tone and he often appears to be in a world of his own. He appears to have lost the ability to eat out of his dog dish, so I’ve resorted to feeding him a mix of his dry food and some other foods using a plastic spoon.

Even though he’s still able to go on long walks and even run, Buster has a form of dementia, according to his vet. On a positive note, Buster’s heart appears to be fine, and there were no concerns when the vet recently ran some tests of his blood.

His time is limited.

“Enjoy the time you have with him,” said the vet.

Buster had lost about seven pounds since he began declining a few months back.

The vet offered up a list of things to feed him, including chicken and rice.

One day after his trip to the vet, Buster happened to give me a sign that things were going to be OK, even if his time is limited.

I was bringing something to my car, when I motioned for Buster to stay. As usual, he ignored me, squeezing between me and the door. Just then, he turned to look at me and gave a slight wag of his tail.

I interpreted the tail wag as a sign that Buster was happy that he successfully squeezed his way out the door.

There’s no telling how long Buster will live. When he does pass away, I’ll always remember him as the energetic young dog with a playful bark and energetic drive for chasing tennis balls.

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