A heartfelt goodbye to a dear friend

Sabrina was gracious enough to let me take over her blog for just one day to say goodbye to a dear friend.

Barney, one year ago today I held you and said goodbye. You were my friend, my companion and the best dog any girl could ever ask for.

You came into my life when I needed you most. It would take me years to understand just how much you saved me. And I thought it was me saving you.

Barney’s first day home – 3 months old. He wouldn’t go anywhere without that ball. He even took it on walks.

You had been dropped off at the city vet. Unwanted. Discarded. In the three weeks you spent at the clinic you were able to befriend everyone you met. Every now and then destiny brings two souls together. The first time I saw you I knew we were meant to be together. When I got you, I made a vow to always look after you and do good-by you. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to live up to such a responsibility but I made a promise and was prepared to do everything possible to keep it.

Sound asleep in his favorite sleeping position as the airshow raged overhead

You were the cutest puppy, but somebody was laughing when they put you together: German Shepherd, Corgi, maybe a touch of Jack Russell thrown in for good luck plus who knows what else – legs too short for your body, neck & teeth too big for your head. Odds and ends from a mish-mash of breeds sure gave you a unique look and yet…….. How many times were we stopped on the street and told what a wonderful dog you were? YOU were the dog people always wanted.

You were the cutest puppy, but so much trouble. A month of being on steroids does not make house training an easy task. How many times a night did you need to be taken outside? Three? Ten? But we got through it.

Always a sun worshipper

You and your “little Barney ideas” drove me crazy at times. You decided you would only potty in your own yard and that is all. When we were preparing to leave Yellowknife, NT we stayed in a hotel for three weeks. Every night it was -40C and every night you would tell me several times a night you needed outside, only to then tell me you needed to go home. But our home belonged to someone else and they certainly would not have appreciated your nightly visits to potty in their yard.

First snowfall

I have never argued with a dog before. There are those who would call me crazy for arguing with you. But you and your Barney ideas made you so stubborn. Dirty, soggy, mogey rawhide chews that have been buried for several rain storms will never be allowed back in the house. How many times did I stand at the door: “Barney drop it. Ok, come inside. No, drop it. Now come inside. No, drop it.” You would cry with that disgusting chewy hanging from your mouth, begging me to let it come inside with you.

Sharing a sun beam with Chibi and Livingston at my parents' place

You were such a smart dog. You only needed to meet a person once and you would remember them. Even if you didn’t see that person for a year later, you still remembered. Every time you got a new toy, we’d spend some time together learning that toy’s name and later you would fetch it on command.

Laying in the sun with Shinobi - best dog-toy EVER!

I’ve never met another dog as obsessive about their toys as you. When you were still being kenneled, you would be so excited to be let out and greet me, but the thought of going outside without being accompanied by your favorite toy would result in screams of panic. I almost forgot your toy when I came to fetch you after you were neutered. You were still drugged to the gills and barely able to walk when I pulled you out of the kennel. You were happy to go with me and then you remembered Blue had been left behind. I can’t tell you how many vet techs came running at your shrieks before I figured out it wasn’t pain that was the issue. We returned to your kennel, got Blue and all was right with the world again.

Even as you got older you relaxed your obsession a bit but toys still had to be taken to the door in order for you to go outside. Every morning I would take all the toys off the bed, and the next morning I would find as many, if not more than I had removed the day before.

Always had to have at least one toy in bed at all times

You always accepted change with an admirable ease. When I decided to leave my husband and make the long trek back to Winnipeg, there was never a doubt in my mind that you were coming with me. We picked up, drove across the country and moved into a houseful of new people, new dogs and new experiences. You took it all in stride. You always surprised me with your acceptance of change, the only constants being that you and I were together.

Four days of camping in the pouring rain at Black Lake. A chair in front of the fire and all was well with the world - a roasted marshmallow or two didn't hurt.

I knew it always understood that being a long-bodied dog meant you had a higher chance of back troubles. I refused to let myself ever think it would mean your life. I certainly never thought it would come so fast. One day you were bounding around, two days later you were unable to lift more than your head.

Laying around in the kitchen, looking innocent while dinner was cooking. On the ready to wash the floor should a morsel drop.

Those last two days we had together seemed to go on forever, and yet they were over so fast. I think I knew when I took you home from the vet that first morning what decision would have to be made. That I allowed you to suffer even one more day slashes at my heart even today. But I had to give you that time to get better. I held you and cried. I promised you we would get through it together and you would be bounding around like your own self in no time. But that was never to be.

There are days I regret making you spend your last day at the vet’s office, poked and prodded and stuck with needles. I had to give you every chance, give the vet every possible chance to make you better. That I knew in my heart my attempts were fruitless and that you were getting worse couldn’t stop me from trying.

One year ago today, I held you and said goodbye. Six years together was not enough, will never be enough. As impossible as it may be, I always hoped you would outlive me and had always made plans in case you did.  I’ll never forget the feel of your ears and how you liked it when I pulled on them. The fur behind the pads on your feet was so silky soft.  I miss sleeping in knowing you would be there, waiting until I was ready to get up, even if it meant sleeping late into the afternoon.

The Grin

I miss you so much, my grief for you is incomparable. When I lost my grandfather, my mother the pain was not as gripping as when I lost you. Even today it tears me apart. It has taken this long to even be able to remember the good times without breaking down. A year later and I can finally recall your antics with a smile.

I got Sabrina soon after we said good-bye. I was broken and she eased herself into the cracks.  She has become a wonderful companion and friend. In every other way she could not be more different from you. Where you rushed into new experiences with a relish for living, she is timid and unsure. She has the softest personality where you always challenged me for dominance.  Where you were always rugged and always healthy, she is fragile and has already visited the vet more times than you ever need to.

And yet, I know you would have liked her. She will never replace you, but she has filled a place in my heart that is hers alone.

A note on The Will’s behalf:

You were three when you met The Will. You’d always made a habit of making friends everywhere you went, but your friendship with him was special from day one.  He was the first man you had ever included in your circle of very favorite people. He was the only person you ever learned to “get” on command.

Everyone knew you were MY dog, but Will was also included in our family circle. He was there until the end with you and will always hold you in his heart.

I love you Barney



About Sabrina's Pug Tails

My name is Sabrina. I am a three year old fawn pug who lives with my three humans and my brother-cat Shinobi. I came to live with my family in February of 2010. I don’t remember much about my life before that. I know that I didn’t have a nice warm bed to sleep in or soft couches to lay on. I was rescued from my previous life by the Boston Terrier & Pug Rescue of Southern Manitoba along with my brother, sister and mom. My human mum tells me that some dogs work at being smart and some work at being cute, and I am very, very cute. I think there may be some kind of insult here………
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9 Responses to A heartfelt goodbye to a dear friend

  1. two cats and a pug says:

    OMP mum is just bawling right nows. She totally can relate to this post and the close relationship yous had with Barney. He was such a special little guy. An angel that watches over you today and always. Never to be forgotten.


  2. cassandra says:

    wow i’m tearing up right now, that was really touching Shaila, i feel for you. plus that picture of chibbi and livingston with barney was so nice to see and remember the good old days.

  3. Alfie 's Mom says:

    Oh Shaila, I do feel your pain. I lost the best dog in my world almost 13 years ago and if I could bring him back for 5 minutes, just to hug him, I would. I gave up looking for a dog like him years ago, that is until Alfie adopted me. As Sabrina as filled a void, so has Alfie. He is not Jake , he is Alfie. Recently, I had to surrender Jamie to the Rescue because of Deuce being to aggressive toward him. So, once again, my heart was broken as Jessica walked him out the door to a better life. I cried for a week for him and now it is close to when I lost Jake and I still miss him so very much.
    They say God never gives us more than we can handle, but one must wonder. Alfie is my heart dog now, I knew he would be. We are waiting on Rai from Minneapolis and hope he will be another Alfie as he is a pure Chin. By the way, Alfie has a small gift for Sabrina at the Valentine Party. He has picked her as his chic, funny huh? Take Care. Joan & Alfie

  4. This post is beautiful and makes my heart ache so much for your loss. I can’t even imagine the feeling…it actually makes me sick to my stomach. 😦

    It sounds like Barney was the absolute light of your life. I love all of the photos of him…and the fact that he could sleep through an air show is nothing short of amazing.

    I’m so happy that Sabrina has helped eased the pain. Hugs to you, Sabrina and your entire family. We’re thinking of you…

  5. Salinger says:

    What a sad/sweet post about dear Barney! He sounds like he was a great friend and it sounds like he enjoyed a GREAT life with you!!!

    I’ll bet he’s running and bounding and eating steak and Popeye’s chicken with our PugBuddy, Stubby who recently went to the Rainbow Bridge too!

    Salinger (and peeps)

  6. Sabrina’s Mum:
    Thank you for all your nice comments.
    I knew when I started this blog that this post had to be written. It took several tries to get it down, and a full box of tissues. For a year I could not let myself properly grieve Barney’s death. His memory was just too painful. As painful as it was to write, I feel it gave me closure and helped start the real healing process.

    Thank you again for reading Sabrina’s blog and commenting. Sometimes it’s really nice to know you are not alone.


    • Linda says:

      Hi Shay,

      I was so moved by your story about Barney. I can really understand your pain. We lost our Dalmation, Cassie, three weeks ago. We had her for sixteen years, since she was 10 weeks old. We had to have her euthanized because of various health issues due to old age. I will never forget that day (Feb. 1st) and the surreal feeling of putting her in the car for one last ride. I loved her so much, at times it seems too hard to bear. Her best buddy Chole, our 14 year old Border Collie seems bewildered since Cassie’s death. I know that in time my grief with diminish but will never completely go away. Even though I am a therapist by profession and understand the grief process, my professional training hasn’t helped much with this very personal and poignant loss.

      You are very courageous to write about Barney. You are not alone. There are many of us who are struggling to make sense of the emptiness and feelings of loss after a pet’s death.

      Thank you so much for sharing this.


      • Sabrina’s mum:
        Hi Linda. Thank you for your kind words.
        I am very sorry for your loss. Sixteen years is an amazingly long life for a dog. Of course when the day comes that you have to make that decision, it is never long enough.
        I am sure that all the training in the world won’t help when you are mired in your own grief.
        This was a very difficult piece to write. I tried writing it several times and just ended up crying my eyes out instead. His loss was more painful than facing my dissolved marriage and more painful than losing my grandfather a year later. Barney was more than a pet and more than a family member. He was my responsibility to keep safe. This was a responsibility I seriously took on when I decided to adopt him. In many ways, when you don’t have children of your own, your pet takes on the role of a surrogate child. I’m not ashamed to admit that Barney filled the void a child otherwise would have occupied.
        In retrospect I am really glad I pushed through and wrote it. It really helped the healing process begin. It also is a great way to keep and honour his memory. I find myself forgetting things and really appreciate having this tribute to visit and relive our life and times together.

  7. Pingback: Gotcha! | Sabrina's Pug Tails

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