Growing up as a child, everyone referred to our family dog, Spanky, as my sisters dog. I was always so jealous that Spanky was her dog. I would constantly ask for my own dog, and my dad would always say, Why? We have Spanky. It wasnt that I didnt appreciate Spanky, I just wanted a dog of my own. Between my 8th and 9th grade years, I got my wish. Truman Bartholomew Bustillo was the most beautiful dog I have ever seen in my entire life.
I still remember the moment I saw his picture. My family was getting ready to move from Sugar Land to Irving, and we were picking up Spanky from the kennel, where he was staying while we packed up the house. I always looked at the community board, but I had no idea that this time it would change my life. There was a want ad for finding a new home for a 70-pound basset hound. I begged my mom,and she said, “Ask your father,” but I could tell she was just as excited.
I immediately borrowed her cell phone to call my dad. I think he felt guilty for making my sister and me move to a new city, so he agreed to go “visit the dog and his family.” He claimed he wasn’t making any promises, but I knew it was easy riding from there on out.
Bridget and Darryl were Truman’s owners and had just had a baby girl who was allergic to dogs. The first time I saw Truman, he was sitting at the fridge, wagging his tail and begging for ice (one of his favorite treats). My parents, older sister, Spanky and I all went to meet Truman and his family. Bridget had received Truman as a college graduation present, and she was devastated to have to let him go. I knew at that point, Truman must be a very special dog. I also knew the second we left the house we were going to adopt him. The next day, we went to pick up Truman. I officially had my dog.
His first night with us, Truman had a lot of trouble adjusting, but within the week he was right at home with my family. He was begging at the table during dinnertime and refusing to spend the night outside. Sadly, my beloved Truman passed away this week, but I don’t want to focus on that- I want to focus on his great life.
Truman was a good 20 pounds heavier than Spanky, so one of the biggest obstacles to overcome was getting Truman to not plow over Spanky and eat his dinner in addition to his own. Truman would do anything for food. One time, Truman grabbed a piece of cheesecake out of a friend of my mom’s hand- and she was holding her hand up near her shoulder! We still have no idea how his little four-inch legs got him to jump that high, but they did.
Another great memory of Truman was when he would hang out of the window of the car and show off. His huge, floppy, long ears would flap alongside his face. We swear he knew how handsome he was, because he would strut. I swear! Strutting! He wouldn’t walk and sniff like an average hound, he would strut and indirectly beg strangers for attention. No stranger could resist.
Truman was there for my family and me through everything. When Spanky passed away four years ago, our appreciation of Truman quadrupled. He helped us all so much through the mourning process, and he kept us strong.
Truman was there when I got my braces off. He was there when I went on my first date. He was there to nurse me through my first heartbreak. He was there for all of my proms. He was there the day I got into UT. But most of all, he was there on the run-of-the-mill, average days. He loved me unconditionally and was just like a brother. (I still remember how jealous he would get when my mom paid more attention to me).
Being over in Austin, it was hard getting that phone call. I never knew the last time I was at home was the last time I would get to see him. Overall, my family has been there for me through countless phone calls, but that’s just one of the drawbacks of college. It’s difficult being away from my family, and I find myself wishing I could have seen him and been with him that day. I like to think he is hanging out with Spanky now, still trying to steal his dinner. I know no matter what, I will never forget him, just as I’ve never forgotten Spanky. I just wanted to write this blog as a way to get everything out and pay tribute to the best friend any person could ever ask for.
Rest in Peace, Truman : 12-6-96 to 10-10-07.