I know this technically isn't wedding related but I couldn't not take the time out to dedicate a post to my beloved dog Barney.
|Barney in mum's silk scarf|
Firstly, I'll apologise for the quality of the photos but they were taken on my phone and if this post isn't grammatically correct - the following only took place less than 30 hours ago.
We had Barney, a black Labrador, since he was 8 weeks old. He was stood in our kitchen waiting for me and my sister as a surprise from my mum, back when I was 12.
He's been the most perfect dog (not that I'm biased). He never chewed, never barked unless somebody came into the house who he didn't know and was hardly ever poorly, other than having a cough because he had a corn kernel stuck in his throat from running through the corn fields at the back of our house. I'll be honest, we pampered him so much and so he turned out like his owners; a fussy eater and too laid back for his own good sometimes.
|Barns in his army coat ready to face the snow|
He was always there whenever we needed a cuddle or someone to listen (and not answer back) and gave us all the same love and attention that we showed him. As all dog owners will agree, he was a big part of the family and I for one don't know what I'd have done without him.
He ran away a few times. I assume it was because he'd not been neutered and every once in a while he'd catch the scent of a female and think he'd try his luck. But one time, he never came home. I was an absolute mess. Everything was going through my mind; has somebody else got him? Are they treating him OK? What if they're torturing him? What if it gets too cold and he can't keep himself warm? Every possible question and negativity ran through my head that night/day. I couldn't sleep and struggled to concentrate on anything else. It turned out, our local council had picked him up and taken him to the local kennels. I was so relieved. I haven't got children of my own, but I think I reacted in the same way a mother who has lost a child would react. I can't tell you the feeling I experienced when I got that phone call to say he'd been found.
One time, when he was a puppy, we had left him in our kitchen while we nipped out briefly. We came back to find his blanket perfectly laid out over the kitchen floor. On further inspection, once we peeled the blanket back, we found all the newspapers, magazines and catalogues which were usually kept on the shelves, strewn across the floor. He'd tried to cover it up so as he didn't get in trouble!
|He doted on mum|
I could go on with stories from the best part of 14 years but in June this year, we noticed that when on his walks, he was sometimes dragging his back paws. Nothing too major, but like when we have a little scrape when we wear heels, for example. Then he was struggling to balance when he was trying to do his business.
As common in Labradors, the back end started to fail him. The vet also confirmed that he had a lump inside his rectum. Although he had his problems, he still loved to go on his walks, albeit short ones, but he still had a quality of life. Only recently, he started to have 'bad days'. On these days, we'd decide that the best decision for him would be to call out the vet, but then Barney would get up and trot round the garden, be begging for treats and wagging his tail. It was as if he was truly saying "no, not yet. I'm fine mum, really!"
|Grey but gorgeous!|
Only a few days ago, we got up and he was unable to stand at all and when he wanted to, we had to help him up, but even then, he'd either have to prop himself up against a wall or he'd just stumble around acting drunk. His front legs weren't working properly either. He wouldn't eat or drink anything, couldn't get comfortable, couldn't sleep, was really cold and his heart was beating so fast.
My sister asked that me and my mum didn't tell her when we were going to call the vet however I felt like I needed to be there. Then the message came from my mum that the vet needed to be called. She couldn't do it and neither could I, so Mr S stepped in and sorted the arrangements.
I truly believe that if we didn't call the vet that night, Barney would have either suffered a seizure or a heart attack and I would hate to think he died in any sort of pain. The vet came and got his shears out to clip the hair from his leg. Both my mum and I said he wouldn't allow the vet to come near him with them (he hated things that were noisy and was very wary of things he wasn't familiar with), but Barney just laid there without even flinching. Another reason we knew we'd made the right decision and thought it was therefore obvious that even Barney wanted to stop suffering. The vet administered the anaesthetic and it was the most heartbreaking moment of my life. I was a a quivering wreck of utter devastation but at the same time, I felt a certain amount of calm and relief for both me and Barney.
Although I don't regret our decision that it was the right time and I know he was in no pain, I'm glad I made the decision to be there when it happened. My sister is glad of her decision not to be. There's no right or wrong. It was a personal choice. And, at first I didn't believe it but, it's true what people say; you'll just know it's time.
I still can't believe he's gone and I won't get to stroke him, ruffle his ears, walk him or sneakily feed him my mums chocolates. I don't think its sunk in. He was my baby. He grew up with me and was a big part of life. I still remember the moment he was sat in the kitchen at 8 weeks old when I was 12. I'm nearly 26 now.
It sounds cliché but I know many dog owners will agree with me that it feels as though a member of my family has died. I've probably cried more over the illness and death of Barney than I have done with any human I have known. Harsh that may sound, and I'm not saying I have no sympathy for losing a human loved one but a big part of my life has been taken away. Not just him as a dog, but the lifestyle, the walks we had and his other dog friends we met along the way, to name a few.
I know Barney is in a better place, away from illness, suffering and pain. He had a good life with lots of love and happiness and there is nothing I would change.
On the night that Barney died, before we'd made any decisions or knew what was coming later on that night, me and Mr S picked up our new puppy. It was bitter-sweet. I was so upset about Barney yet I was looking forward to having a new puppy to look after. He's also a black Labrador and we've named him Dudley. Barney will never be replaced but I aim to give Dudley as good a life as Barney had and hopefully, he'll be just as happy as Barney.