Rescuing Buster

June 8, 2023

By Jeff Becraft


One day last week I was driving to work and as I came to an intersection in our neighborhood, there was a bulldog out in the street… introducing himself to all the cars. We are talking out in the middle of the road.

The AKC describes bulldogs as: “Kind but courageous, friendly but dignified, the bulldog is a thick-set, low-slung, well-muscled bruiser whose ‘sourmug’ face is the universal symbol of courage and tenacity.” That was our boy right there.  “Sourmug face” is my favorite part of that description.

I would later come to find out that his name was Buster (although names have been changed to protect the innocent…).  Since it did not seem like it was a good idea for our low-slung bruiser to be out in the middle of the road, I carefully pulled my car onto a side street.  (It was difficult to see where Buster was.)

The truck behind me was at a standstill. The thick-set, well-muscled canine was circling the truck trying to introduce himself to the vehicle. The driver couldn’t see where Buster was either.

I got out of my car and began walking towards the scene. As I walked that direction, it hit me that I really didn’t know Buster (and at this stage of the scenario, I had not read anything from the AKC) and what if this dog was not friendly.  I had nothing in my hands to ward him off.  It probably would have been good to have had the 3-iron out of my golf set because I certainly can’t hit a golf ball very well with that 3-iron. But I was half way there… and I had no desire to see some dog get run over.

When Buster came around the back of the truck, he came charging towards me. He was everything the AKC described… except stronger. He had a harness on but no collar. The harness had a handle on top of it and I grabbed that. This was no lightweight harness – this thing was made for a well-muscled bruiser.

I led Buster over to my car and was going to put him in it to keep him out of the road until I could figure out what to do next.  When Buster gets to the car, he is up on his hind legs and clawing at my door to take advantage of this new found opportunity in life. He probably put about 15-20 claw marks on my car door. It is an older car and so it simply goes with the décor but still, I wanted to hang on to at least some of the paint.

I quickly open the door and once again, Buster is on his hind legs with front paws excitedly flailing about trying to climb up into my front seat. I had some folders and papers on my front seat and Buster’s shenanigans shot them out into the street. I pulled Buster back and figured this plan is not going to work.

I am now hanging on to Buster and trying to pull out my phone to call Brenda (she is working from home that day). My tenacious friend is spinning around in circles (and there is no swivel on this harness). I am hanging on for dear life and trying not to get my fingers snapped off. I get Brenda on the phone and blurt out, “I’ve got a lost dog and I need your help.  I am at such and such intersection.”

Now I am down on one knee and trying to contain Buster’s excitement. About the time Brenda gets there, some compassionate neighbors come out to help. The first one to get there is a high school girl, and her younger brother and mother are close behind.  She was extremely friendly and helpful and said, “His name is Buster. This is like the seventh or eighth time he has gotten out. He lives over there.”  She went over and got the owner for us… and Buster trotted back with his owner in tow.

In all of this, there is one thing you can say about Buster – he has a zest for life.

He was going to enthusiastically make the most of every opportunity… even if it involved a risk (like getting out in the middle of the road).   Tongue hanging out, wiggling around… He was all in. There was nothing mundane or routine about him.

Sometimes in our daily lives, we can get a sourmug face or a sourmug attitude because we are just trudging through the day. But let’s learn a lesson from Buster and go after each task with gusto and enjoy each moment to the fullest. And in the process, be tenaciously friendly and compassionate.


Jeff Becraft is the Interim Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at  [email protected].