If you’re not a dog lover you can skip the rest of this column.

If you are a dog lover then first of all, good for you. Dogs truly are man’s best friend, more loyal and more forgiving than any human could ever be. A good dog is a trusted ally and when you invest time in your dog it comes back to you a hundred times over, probably more.

I grew up in a house where dogs were always part of the team picture and over the years I have got to enjoy time with some real canine superstars.

We had dogs when I was real little but the first two to actually leave their mark with me were pups my dad brought home when I was in sixth grade. The brown one was named Bruno, the black one was creatively named Bleak. Bleak’s end came too soon but Bruno lived a long healthy life, made the move with my folks from Arnold to Cozad and basically established himself as the gold standard for all our family dogs to follow. My dad, Bud Jensen, loved that damn dog. Took him everywhere and never had to coax Bruno to come along.

When I first met my wife, we were in Fairbury and one day a stray puppy found his way into the alley behind her workplace. Somebody needed to keep the pooch until the “found” ad could be placed in the paper; were there volunteers? Penni said yes and for the next 15 years or so we were a threesome.

Many of you know what I mean when I say Bud was our first baby. (That’s right, Penn and I didn’t name either of our two children after grandparents yet we had a Bud and  Maggie, so we get partial credit with my folks.) After we were married we moved to Callaway and ol’ Bud went everywhere with us, again with little coaxing.

With no children to tie us down – I mean, we were yet to be blessed with children – Penni, Bud and I roamed the plains. We took vacations to Denver and Kansas City, he loved going to see Penni’s folks in Omaha, and on a more local level there was nothing that lit his fire quite like our trips to Broken Bow, about 20 minutes away.

A 20-minute trip to Broken Bow? That’s what tripped his trigger? Well, not that alone. He knew that many times our trips to Broken Bow would yield a Pizza Hut stop, and he was always good for a slice or two of hamburger. And of course it wouldn’t be a night out unless he got half of Penni’s Hershey’s bar. (I know, I know, Doc, but the dog lived to be 15, so there.)

Which brings me to the real reason for writing today. Our family has been blessed with many great dogs but no star shines as bright as our dear friend Bubba. Many of you know Bubba, been to our house and got to enjoy him in person, and many more of you have seen him and maybe his compadre Zeke, our Black Lab, when we were out for a ride. Bubba loved going for a ride in our family work pickup, the White Eagle, a 1974 Chevy Silverado that was custom made for dog hauling.

I sit here this morning wishing I could take Bubba for one more ride in that damn old pickup.

We had to put Bubba down this morning. Things just weren’t working anymore, the end brought about by an aggressive brain tumor. To the very end Bubba was a great dog but also know Bubba was smarter than me, and probably you, and he knew his time was up.

Our family loved that dog and Bubba made it real easy to feel that way. He was so smart, so much fun, so ingrained in all our lives; we were lucky to have him as long as we did. Golden Retrievers aren’t supposed to live to be 11 years old.

I know many of you have gone through this same set of circumstances – I know that because you kept reading – and I also know life goes on after the death of a beloved family pet. It did after Bruno. It did after Bud. It will after Bubba.

Our family had lots of fun with Bubba but none of us more than our son Matthew. He’s the one who picked him out of the heard, allegedly as a Christmas gift to his sister, and he’s the one who took him to college at Beatrice. As I have told many of you me and our other dog, Zeke, are the only two in our house without a college degree.

Shea took such wonderful care of that dog and was so proud of the pooch, who was basically his best friend, like great dogs are supposed to be. We will all miss Bubba but we have the rest of our own lives to relive all the great memories he left behind. Rest in peace old friend, you done good.


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