Tattered Jeans

Looking for Buster: Memories of beloved dog stay alive - even in the face of a coyote reminder

Looking for Buster: Memories of loved dog remain with coyote reminder

Katie Oxford and Buster
All dogs have a soul but Buster’s was big. The kind you feel immediately. He’d look you in the eyeballs and stay there.    Photo by Sandy Lankford
Katie Oxford's dog Buster
It’s funny how the faces of loved ones long dead fade with time, but Buster’s face I could draw right now. Photo by Sandy Lankford
Search for coyote in New York
Gotham Coyote Project is an organization that tracks coyotes in New York City. Courtesy photo
2 coyotes near Bayou Bend October 2014
I asked a city worker nearby if he’d seen him and the man answered in Spanish, “Coyote?”  (Note, this is a real coyote seen in another part of Houston.) Courtesy photo
Katie Oxford and Buster
Katie Oxford's dog Buster
Search for coyote in New York
2 coyotes near Bayou Bend October 2014

It’s funny how the faces of loved ones long dead fade with time, but Buster’s face I could draw right now.

Sometimes, I see a resemblance of him from a distance. Someone, walking a blonde colored dog with a tail arching up. I pull over then and ask the same questions I always ask. What kind of dog is that? Where you’d get him? What’s his name?  

Sometimes, I see Buster in a dog’s face. In the eyes. The way they slant and come to a curl in the corner like a comma.

 All dogs have a soul but Buster’s was big. The kind you feel immediately. He’d look you in the eyeballs and stay there.  
But, I haven’t seen one yet with lines running across the lower eyelids like Busters. So dark and thick I thought of the ones my sister used to draw with liquid eyeliner.   
 
All dogs have a soul but Buster’s was big. The kind you feel immediately. He’d look you in the eyeballs and stay there.   
 
Friends think it’s odd that after 10 years, I haven’t gotten another dog. Sometimes, I think it’s time but I never do anything about it. I use two cats as an excuse, but down deep, I know that’s not the real reason. Strange as it sounds, it feels like somehow, Buster’s still around.  
 
A few days before Christmas, I saw a stray that looked every bit like Buster. Except this one was the color of coffee milk with tiny specks of white scattered across his body like the way you throw chicken feed.  
 
For days, I returned to the parking lot with food and water but he wouldn’t touch the stuff. The first day, he sat down on all fours 20 yards away and just stared at me. But that was the closest we ever got. After that, he’d see my car coming and take off. Fast. A few days later, I didn’t see him at all.
 
I asked a city worker nearby if he’d seen him and the man answered in Spanish, “Coyote?”  
 
Remembering what the dog looked like and the way it moved, I could see why he said coyote. It could sure have coyote in him, I thought, but it didn’t look like one for real. Still, the word in Spanish sounded like the right name for him. 
 
“Yes!” I said. “Eggs-zactly.”  
 
He nodded, pointing to a car wash across the street. I bee-lined there and asked around but no one had seen him. Later, I called the Bureau of Animal Control and searched their website but still, no Coyote.
 
Maybe he wasn’t meant to be a pet, I thought. Not mine anyway. But, sometimes when I’m driving Bissonnet, I still look for Coyote. Sorta in the same way I look for Buster.   
 
Authors note: Gotham Coyote Project is an organization that tracks coyotes in New York City. With hundreds of coyotes believed to be living in Harris County, maybe Houston should start up something similar.  

 

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