Buster, a 10-year-old Rottweiler-boxer mix, is very protective of Pete, and the feeling is mutual.
“I’m coming home every day to Buster, and it’s a blessing,” Buchman says. “I’m just happy to be with Buster. I’m a simple guy.”
For five months last year, Buchmann, 55, couldn’t come home to Buster. Buchmann was homeless and living at the Sunday Breakfast Mission. Buster was at a shelter. And only Buchmann’s nearly five-mile walk each day kept them together.
Ever since he graduated high school, Buchmann has worked in construction, but when he lost his job in 2014 he found himself unable to pay rent, and was forced to move into a tent.
Buchmann was happy to camp for a while, but the situation was rough on his 9-year-old dog Buster.
Desperate to ensure the safety of his arthritic pup, Buchmann brought Buster to Faithful Friends Animal Society in Wilmington, North Carolina and found a homeless shelter for himself up the road.
But they were never separated for very long – Buchmann would walk 5 miles every day so he could visit Buster. On top of that, he began volunteering at the shelter for 2 to 3 hours every day walking the other dogs.
Their plight generated massive support after The News Journal and Delawareonline.com ran a story about them in November 2014. A groundswell of support helped Buchmann find a job, a vehicle, an apartment and even a supply of cash to get resettled. None of them were things Buchmann ever expected to need.
He grew up in Long Island and moved to Delaware in 2013 after his mother, for whom he was the primary caregiver for seven years, and his sister died within a month of each other.
“I used to walk and pray to God so that me and and Buster could be together,” he says. And one day, while waiting for Faithful Friends to open, he saw a good omen: as clouds were parading by, he spotted the face of Jesus in a cloud going the other direction, toward him.
Buchmann spent several hours a day at Faithful Friends, being with Buster, walking other dogs (the shelter generally is caring for 400 dogs and cats) and washing dishes.
“It was the least I could do,” he says about the efforts the shelter made to keep him and Buster together.
But that’s not the end of the story. Pete never stopped volunteering and donating to the animal shelter, even after his beloved Buster died 2 years later.
“Faithful Friends helped me save my faithful friend,” Buchmann told The News Journal. “I’ll be grateful forever.”
Though he was heartbroken, the loneliness would not last for long.
Shelter staffers soon asked Buchmann for a favor: Would he please consider fostering a troubled mutt that had proven to be unadoptable because he barked at everything and hated women? The Answer was YES.
Stuck at Faithful Friends for years because his former owners had not treated him well, Matteo had become very “reactive”. No one wanted him.
Buchmann, on the other hand, had bonded with the dog during his volunteer walks at the shelter and decided to take the pup home for a weekend. It didn’t take long for him to adopt Matteo for good.
Because he was in a loving forever home, Matteo became a changed dog.
He stopped showing an aversion to women—and he only barks a little when Pete turns on the vacuum.