Thursday, July 2, 2009

Barkley... March 17, 1994 to July 2, 2009

In this blog I didn't talk much about my four-legged children. I had a beautiful dog named Barkley, named after Sir Charles, the basketball player. Yes, I admit it. Tonight I had to put him down. It hurt. It killed me and broke my heart into a thousand pieces. You see, Barkley was the first dog that was completely, wholly and unconditionally mine.

He was the greatest dog I ever had, not to say his sister, Estrella isn't. She's also incredibly wonderful. They're both very different and we're both sitting here kind of in shock. He was 15. I got him when he was about 6 weeks old. He was so little. He was Shepherd and Chow, and I think a bit coyote. He was a little red fluffball those first few months. The puppy pictures are in an album and not scanned in, but he was adorable, trust me.

He never had many health troubles. Three years ago, he had a knee injury and while it always bothered him, he bounced back. He was stubborn. He was always ready to go. About two years ago, he lost his ability to jump up onto the bed or into the back of the 4Runner but I'd happily help him up. He was a great dog at sensing my moods, always comforting me when i was sad or upset. Last fall, I noticed he was starting to get hungry, I mean ravenous and this spring, it seemed to get worse, to the point where he'd try to steal food off the table. When I took him in April, the blood work and tests came back abnormal. I was supposed to take him back for a Cushings Disease test and screening. I kinda figured that I'd do that today, as I was taking him in for a weird eye thing.

Last night we walked. Sometimes, I'd leave him at home when I'd want to take a long walk for exercise, but we went, Barkley, Estrella and me. I always walked him off leash so he could walk at his own pace. We walked several times this week and he was happy. I noticed yesterday or so he didn't want cookies, so something was coming. We ran into one of my good friends and her dog Amber. They were great dog friends. He gave her dog kisses, talked to Barbara and was just so happy last night. Two weeks ago he scared off a coyote. I honestly didn't think it would be our last night.

I had a funeral to go to this morning. Everything seemed ok this morning, but when I got home I noticed his eye was red, swollen and full of puss. I wondered if we should go to the vet today or wait till tomorrow. I called to make sure they were open tomorrow then decided to run an errand and probably take him tomorrow, but I just knew I couldn't treat the eye, so I called my mom and asked her to go with me. We picked up the dog and then went in.

The vet was very nice, compassionate. When she determined there wasn't anything under his third eyelid-- I though he might have got something in his eye last night-- she said it could be an abscess or a tumor. She wanted to draw some blood before she gave him anesthesia. She was worried that he might not be able to handle the anesthesia and I worried a bit too. He lost 5 more pounds since April. He'd always been about 57-60 pounds and was down to 47 in April. She told me what it would probably cost, which freaked me a bit but if it could be treated, of course I'd do it. Then I thought what if he dies during the procedure? What if it's untreatable? I didn't want him to die and me not be there. God... could I really put him down right then and there? I decided that I didn't want the call, that it wouldn't be fair to put him through all those tests to determine he was really sick. She also worried that he might be diabetic. The first test in April showed no signs of diabetes, but that would have explained the rapid weight loss I think. Anyway, I decided that it was time to let him go. It killed me to sign the papers but it wasn't fair to make him suffer.

They were compassionate and kind. I was with him before and during. He slipped away so fast. He got up and wanted me to pick him up and bring him home I guess. I nearly lost it and almost changed my mind. I loved him, held him, caressed him and stayed with him. I didn't remove his collar till after he was gone. He never liked to be without it.

I got home later and had to tell Estrella. Not sure how you can tell another dog her sibling wasn't coming home. When I showed her his collar she dashed out looking for him. She climbed inot the dog house, which was his but he never used and stayed there. I sat on the lawn trying to coax her out but she didn't come out till my parents arrived with something to eat. She was with him all day and she's been so senstive to him lately, that I think she knew. I never took him anywhere without her.

So... that's the story of Barkley and his last day. It's probably not the most articulate post I could have ever made but, it's hard to let a beloved animal go. Hell, I get so mad when people use Euphemisms for death and here I am doing it in this post. ;)

It's not fair that their lives are so short. They bring such joy and pleasure into our lives that it's hard when it's time to say goodbye. I'll miss him so much. So, now it's just us girls at the Casa De Maria.



Sr.Helen said...

You loved Barkley like you would a child. You not only loved her, you raised her, you nurtured her. You tended to all of his needs. Just as you would not want your child to suffer, you did not want your endearing pet suffer. You made the hurt end, allowing him to go to a never-ending peaceful sleep.

Maria said...

Thank you, Marie. It really is true but it's so hard to come home not to have him waiting for me by the door. Estrella looks for him. And while I know I did the right thing, it's still so hard to accept. In time, it will be ok.

So, does Sr. Helen have a blog now?