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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.