Monday, January 9, 2017

"Splody" - A Barkley Memory for Samantha and Greg

The quiet, serene, pre-Barkley office.

This story is for Angel Jamison's Mom and Dad, Samantha and Greg at




 on remembering why we do what we can for our pets, even if it means letting them go. Drop by and drop them a kind word - they could use it this difficult day.
---------

We all come home to different environments.  For some, it's the sound of little kids squealing with delight that Mommy or Daddy are home.  It's the the clatter of footsteps like the thunder of small ponies down a trail, that is no trail, but is simply a hallway rug, worn by that repeated motion of sheer joy.

For some it's a simple "Hello Sweetie" a hug and a kiss.

And sometimes it's the blissful sound of silence after a really long day, when all you want to do is eat a hot meal and have a mug of hot tea while you lay out the thoughts of the day in your favorite spot to write or perhaps watch one of your favorite old adventure movies.

The night in question was the later kind but it was going to be one of those very nights where the tea was a glass of Malbec.
Mom, come quick!  Someone pooped on the rug!

Barkley usually greeted me at the back door to the garage, alerted by the door going up, with that terrifying bark that to outsiders sounded ferocious. The work day dog walker always came to the front door so if he heard the garage door, he knew it was me. He sounded scary, but he would let me take a bone right out of his mouth with my bare fingers.  I was his protector and his protected and if I wanted it, it's mine.  But he would defend to the death, that bone, from any creature of a lower, parallel plane, those that were neither protected or protector that would take what he loves.  So even with that quiet temperament that was his nature, I know he'd defend to the death, as well, my safety.

But he knew the sound of my truck and the bark would take on a different tone. I normally heard him before the door was even up, the sound, wild and faint, and incomprehensible but for its meaning. Bark!  Bark!  "Mom's Home!"

It was later than normal and that night long ago when I came in - silence.  He was comfy on the couch, Brinks Barkley, sleeping on the job.
I patted him, fed him, let him out to go potty, which he always does after he eats. I was glad his tummy was feeling OK, as the previous evening he had snarfed up a bit of greasy food wrapper that had hit the floor when emptying the trash, and I figured that might upset his tummy.

So I poured the wine, put on some barley soup on to heat for supper, and sat down to call my boyfriend (now my husband) from the couch.

We  had just said hello when:

 "Oh, Crap! Barkley threw up in the corner earlier!  I have to go".
Barkley had an ultra sensitive stomach as far as rawhides and some people foods, even when he was youngster, unlike my last black lab who could eat an entire tank and then just gently burp.  So several times a year, Barkley would snag some fatty food that's dropped (bacon!)  or a piece of sandwich left unattended or a paper napkin or such that was soaked with meat juice.  He then usually threw it up. He always upchucked in the same spot, if he couldn't alert me in time that he needed to go out, a corner of the front room between a sofa and chair. Since there's a nice rug there, I laid out a large clean towel in the spot, just in case.

Unfortunately, it wasn't barf. Other end. Poor thing,

I'm sure he tried to hold it, but couldn't.  He'd never done that in the house since his first couple of weeks home as a puppy. Of course, this time, he carefully MOVED THE TOWEL OUT OF THE WAY FIRST before he tagged my floor with the latest of Labrador retriever gang signs (in poop!) But I could see the doggy thought process - "Mom gets upset if I grab her clean towels off the counter so I will protect her clean towel even in my indisposition - I'm a good dog!"
Mom, I was just FOLDING these clean towels I found on the counter.

He just looked at me from a distance, as if he expected a scolding, as I cleaned it up (pointing out the large area of tile in the entraceway he could have selected instead of the carpeting, though he didn't appear to be taking notes). There is nothing quite like the look of a dog that's expecting harsh words, no different than a human that somehow knows you are angry, even if they aren't quite sure what exactly they did wrong; a sort of shocked and unbelieving sorrow.

You look at them, your heart beating strongly with the heat of the moment.  They look at you, their heart beating a hollow echo as though already retreating, as they wait for your reaction. You look at them again, weighing a hundred expedients, knowing what you need to do, and not necessarily what fatigue and emotion might prod you to do.
I went over and gently scratched his ear saying  "It's OK, you couldn't help it, you're a good dog", patted him one last time, and gave EJ a call back

"(sigh) It wasn't barf".

"Oh, so the "Oh Crap" was literal then?"  We laughed and proceeded to chat while Barkley laid down next to me for an ear scratch, feeling fine physically, but needing the reassurance that all was well.

When people get married they take a vow of "in sickness and in health". In a way, we also do that with our pets.  Owning a pet is not cheap, even for youthful preventive care.  Then, there are always the things you don't expect, especially as they age, things that result in someone wearing the cone of shame or the expenditure of hundreds or thousands of dollars.
But you help them get better, you adjust your schedule, make doctor appointments and you offer only warmth and support.  You don't  lay your hand upon them with forceful curse and belittlement. They look at you to be the strong one, the tender one. They trust you to act from your heart and not from the infinite, internal voices of human fear and angst.

Then, on those nights when you come home really, really late from work, your soul weary, the house dark, they will quietly come up to you, leaning into you, drawn from their slumber to your side like steel and magnet. At that moment, there as both your hearts beat in the silence, you realize that every measure of sickness and health was worth it, even if their days are numbered.

Their time is so short, indeed, but that does not mean you should not love.  In "people" years, Barkley was probably sixty something. But they were years condensed down into their core elements, as if a simple ordinary succession of days were not enough, as if the love and all of that faithfulness, the freedom of the field, and the tug of a leash toward the horizon was compressed down into something as hard and brilliant as a diamond.  Everything, every single element of so many long days is there in that short span of time, compounded into that one leap, one surge,  toward the lights of a vehicle in the drive, one joyous bark that contains within it simply, "My person is home.”

He cared nothing about where we lived, how I looked or how much money was in the bank.  All he cared about was how to bequeath that which sustained him, in his too short life, his faith and his love, as he patiently waited for me to join him.

6 comments:

  1. Such a beautifully written heartfelt post! Barkley seems like he was such a special dog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a Good one... fur helping us to deal with the Sad News about Jamison going to the Bridge. He fought a Valiant Fight. Run Free and Fast Jamison.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We were so very sad to hear of Jamison's passing. He fought hard and his humans gave him all they could and more. Soft woos and gentle hugs to them from us. Beautiful sentiments from your life with Barkley.

    Woos - Lightning and Misty

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is beautiful.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for posting this. It's so beautifully written, and so very true. Haven't read through the email you sent. I want to read it tomorrow when my head is hopefully a bit more clear. <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. that's a wonderful post for Noodle and his family... I'm still so sad that Jamison lost this fight... and Samantha and Greg had to go through so much sad things.... it's so unfair that they had to say farewell to a family member again...

    ReplyDelete

Welcome to The Book of Barkley. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on Abby the Senior rescue Lab,who we adopted in 2014.

Stop in and say hello. 100% of book sales are donated to animal rescue organizations across the U.S. and Canada and Search Dog Foundation. If you have a non-profit animal organization and would like autographed copies of the book for fundraisers or a blog post featuring your organization please contact me at cliodna58@gmail.com