By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
SAUNDERSTOWN – If you don’t know a lot about dogs, you’re probably unaware that they smile and laugh when feeling especially cheerful or silly.
Right here in our own backyard, we have a sweet little nine-year-old mixed breed named Buddy – adopted from the East Greenwich Animal Protection League after going through some tough times – who grins from ear to ear.
It’s because she has been adopted by a family who adore her and the feeling is mutual.
Virtually everyone who watches TV or reads the state’s biggest newspaper knows Buddy’s story. She was adopted as a puppy and named Rosebud by an elderly man who died four-and-a-half years later; his longtime companion kept Buddy another four years before she, too, died.
Buddy was taken to the shelter but last February had a taste of freedom when she was chosen to play Sandy in a children’s theater production of Annie, the musical based on the classic comic strip. When the show ended, Buddy was returned to the animal adoption facility.
At some point she slipped and tore a ligament in her left hind leg. An operation to repair the damage was estimated to cost $1,200-$1,800 and it looked as though the troubled little dog might be euthanized.
Enter David and Irene Azzinaro who met Buddy at an open house designed to attract potential adopters; it was love at first sight for people and pooch.
“She’s a happy little puppy,” says Irene from the living room of her waterfront home overlooking the Plum Beach Lighthouse. “She follows us everywhere. Dave [a computer expert in a sales-related technical support job] works at home and when he’s upstairs, she helps out by lying under his desk.
“She’s game for anything and has about a 200-word vocabulary.”
Irene and Dave are true pet-lovers who believe the addition of Buddy to their family was meant to be. Earlier, they had a beloved dog named Taffy, who lived to age 17.
“I had to stay home from work for three days when she died,” Irene says, recalling her grief. “I couldn’t leave the house.”
It seems Buddy has come into their lives to heal and be healed.
The Azzinaros began looking for a companion after the death of Irene’s mother for whom she and her sister had provided care during a long period of declining health.
“Ever since we got Buddy, the whole mood has changed in the house. She’s very content, relaxed and happy and she loves company. She sleeps on the floor in our bedroom but when the grandchildren are here she guards the staircase so she can keep an eye on everyone.”
Buddy is an endless source of entertainment.
“She’s like the commercial on TV with the dog that can’t sleep and keeps moving his bone from the backyard to a bank vault and back to the yard,” says Dave. “She puts her bone in the corner, goes to sleep, then wakes up suddenly, retrieves it and puts it somewhere else. She carries it around, moves it around then eats it.”
The couple likes to play a game with Buddy in which all three chase each other around the dining room table. Another favorite activity is walking on the beach where she chases waves.
Her fame continues on the Facebook page, Buddybanter, produced by Lucy Svagan, Irene’s sister.
She’s such a star, adds Dave, that when he takes her for walks or rides in his turquoise antique MG convertible – the dog has pink goggles she wears in the car – people always approach them.
Even when he’s alone, he laughs, “People come up and say, ‘We know you! You’re Buddy’s dad.’ ”
While Buddy is reported to have traces of chow and retriever in her bloodline, another breed clearly is somewhere in the mix; a great part of her instinct is that of a herding dog, possibly a Corgi.
“She herds me into the den,” Irene laughs. “She [can’t rest] until we’re all in our places.”
Buddy’s leg has healed completely but now she’s bravely battling Cushing’s disease, a common malady in older dogs. It has caused much of her thick, fluffy orange coat to fall out.
Despite all she’s been through, Buddy is still a charmer who lives to please the people around her.
“She’s adorable,” Irene declares. “The joy, you can’t imagine.”
Because she’s such a goodwill ambassador and loves the spotlight, Buddy will be the honored guest at the East Greenwich Animal Protection League’s 15th annual “Hound Hike” pet walk this Sunday at Goddard Park, in Warwick.
Registration for the organization’s largest fundraiser begins at noon; the cost is $20.
There will be music, raffles, pet-product vendors and a free lunch. The two-mile walk will be preceded by a Blessing of the Animals. Prizes will be awarded to the first 150 to register and to those who raise $50 in pledges.
Participants are urged to pick up pledge sheets from a number of locations including Allie’s Tack and Feed, Greenwich Bay Animal Hospital, Stop & Shop, Dave’s Market, Ocean State Veterinary Specialists, Critter Hut, Bone Appetit, Petco, Main Street Coffee and the Salty Dog.
For more information on the event, call 885-1158 or go online to www.EGAPL.org .
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .