For the love of a dog
Today I would like to write about someone near and dear to my heart. My beloved West Highland Terrier - Barney. This week I had to say goodbye to my best friend. My little fur baby taught me wonderful things about life and this post is for him.
The lesson of joy
I adopted a West Highland White Terrier many years ago. Her name was Emma. I just adored my little princess, but 6 months after her adoption she became seriously ill. She was vomiting and had problems with diarrhea. I went from veterinarian to veterinarian with no answers. I changed her diet, I cooked for her. One day her bloody stool pushed me over the edge and I contacted a gastroenterologist. I remember saying "Look humans can't be that different from dogs." He connected me with a wonderful vet, who was a 50 minute drive from my home. But I was desperate! He was puzzled and wanted to put her on doggy prozac.......Eventually, one day I was at a mall kiosk selling pet chotchkie types of items and there was ..........looking back on it an angel who appeared in the form of a sweet little old lady who was the answer to my prayers. I shared Emma's story with her and she said, "Honey she has separation anxiety and she needs a companion!"
I never thought about a second dog as I had my hands full with Emma. I did some investigative research on Westies and realized they are an extremely pack oriented breed. My poor little girl would miss me so much when I went to work she made herself sick. I called the rescue shelter and put my name on a list to adopt another wonderful four-legged child.
I remember the day I drove to the rescue shelter. Marilyn got Barney and put him in the yard for me to get to know. The poor guy had the WORST haircut I have ever seen on a Westie, he was dirty and goofy looking and I instantly fell in love with him! I was so excited to get him home to introduce him to his sister. Can I just say that sometimes things in your head work much different then real life. Emma was pissed at me. She didn't care for her new sibling and was not afraid to let me know it. I decided to give her time to deal with it. I immediately gave Barney a bath and waited. It took a couple of weeks but the lady at the mall was 100 percent correct. Barney was just what we needed. Emma was the alpha and she needed someone to boss around, and Barney let her think that she could. He was my goofy little comedian.
Eventually, Emma crossed over and we mourned her loss together. It made our bond stronger.
It amazes me how much life and spirit this little guy brought to my life. There was not a day that he did not crack me up and make me laugh. I will miss his moist little black nose gently nudging me to share his latest doggy desires. During the downfall of the economy I lost my job and was unemployed for a long time, which was followed up with underemployment. I lost my job, my identity and my self esteem. But Barney didn't care he loved me unconditionally as long as there were belly rubs involved.
Westies have a language they speak, my home is empty without his insistence that I hear what he has to say to the world. In the photo below he was wanting to know when I was going to get out of bed to feed him breakfast. Yes, he was saying B - where's my breakfast!
Over a year and a half ago they found a tumor on his kidney. He was not given much time to live. I was devastated. But I feel blessed that I had him for a year and a half. While he amazed the vets who didn't give him much time, we savored every moment we had together. He taught me to take pleasure in little things like the walks in our park. They became less about exercise and more about the pleasure of being a dog and all the things there are to sniff and explore in a park. And rides in the car were pure delight. It was exciting and meant new things to investigate. My car window currently has his nose smootches on it, and I don't think I will ever wash them off. Saturday mornings were about snuggling under the covers. This will be my first Saturday with out my little boy to burrow under the covers.
Barney always had a bone, Greenie or chew of some sort. He loved to play and tease. He would invite you to play by poking you with his nose. Westies are curious by nature, and I will miss hearing him rattle the Christmas presents under the tree, trying to find the ones with his name on them.
There is a large space in my life that used to be filled by this little guy, but I would not trade having had him in my life for anything. Little did I know the day that I showed up at the rescue shelter that I was the one who was going to be the lucky. He gave me gifts of life to treasure by showing me love, companionship, laughter and joy.