City’s canine ambassador rests in peace

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2005

Buster Brown was one of the first things I learned about Natchez.

Even before I took the job here in 1998 to cover the city beat, my editor told me that then-Mayor Larry L. &8220;Butch&8221; Brown had a boxer he took to work every day.

A city like that couldn’t be all bad, I reasoned.

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Wednesday night, the former mayor called me to say Buster would be put down the next day. At 13, he simply had too many health problems to go on suffering.

Anyone who has lost a beloved animal would have recognized the heaviness in Butch Brown’s voice. &8220;He was a good dog,&8221; Butch said, as simple and powerful a compliment as any dog deserves.

Losing a pet is like losing a member of the family.

Losing a dog like Buster is like losing a model Natchez citizen.

Friendly, kind and unique, Buster was every bit a Natchezian.

A fixture on downtown streets being walked by beloved caretaker Amos Polk &045; who passed away himself just a few months ago &045; Buster was friendly to all.

I almost never interviewed Butch Brown in his office without Buster resting comfortably next to his desk, on a well-worn dog bed just right for curling up in.

He might not necessarily have had much to contribute, but he was a fixture in the office.

In fact, it was often comforting to know Buster was there, with a well-timed sigh to remind you he was still in the room and wouldn’t mind a scratch behind the ears.

Throughout Butch Brown’s eight-year term as mayor, Buster was almost always in the office, heading to work with his master several days a week.

You have to imagine what a witness Buster must have been to history &045; the deals made, ideas discussed, plans hashed out in that corner office in city hall.

Buster himself made front-page news in The Democrat in the 1990s, when his strange kidnapping set off a days-long hunt for the beloved boxer.

But he was finally found and delivered safely home.

Buster was even the subject of a photo page in the newspaper documenting his daily trips to work with the mayor.

Cover dog or not, Buster was a gentle, sweet, friendly dog who loved his masters, Butch and Shields Brown.

While they will certainly miss him, many in the city will miss him, too.

Buster’s daily walks around downtown made him a favorite among residents and business owners.

With Amos holding the leash, they were a familiar sight around downtown for many years, both ambassadors for the kind of hospitality for which Natchez is famous.

Buster became, in many ways, the city’s dog.

Pets have a way of becoming members of the family, and dogs have a way of doing that like no other animal.

And when a dog has been a well-known member of a community family, he’s missed all that much more.

So rest in peace, Buster. Natchez will miss you.

Kerry Whipple

is editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3541 or by email at