Monday, August 5, 2013

Indiana Bones - Raiders of the Lost Bark - a Barkley Saga

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 greets me at the back door to the garage, alerted by the door going up, with that terrifying bark that to outsiders sounds ferocious. He sounds scary, but he'll let me take a bone right out of his mouth with my bare fingers.  I'm his protector and his protected and if I want it, it's mine.  But he'll defend to the death, that bone, from any creature of a lower, parallel plane, those that are neither protected or protector that would take what he loves.  So even with that quiet temperament that is his nature, I know he'd defend to the death, as well, my safety.

But he knows the sound of my truck and the bark takes on a different tone. I normally hear him before the door is even up, the sound, wild and faint, and incomprehensible but for it's meaning. Bark!  Bark!  "Mom's Home!"

It was later than normal and 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. But he seemed fine, just not as lively as usual.

So I poured the wine, put on some barley soup  on to heat for supper, and sat down to call Partner from the couch.

We  had just said hello when:

 "Oh, Crap! Barkley threw up in the corner earlier!  I have to go".
Barkley has 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 the Tardis and then just gently burp.  So several times a year, Barkley snags some fatty food that's dropped (bacon!)  or a piece of sandwich left unattended or a paper napkin or such that is soaked with meat juice.  He then usually throws it up. He always upchucks in the same spot, if he can't alert me in time that he needs to go out, a corner of the front room between a sofa and chair. Since there's a nice rug there, I layed 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's 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 black lab gang signs (in poop!) But I can 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 Partner 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 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.

 - Brigid

21 comments:

  1. Glad he's okay. My mom has an 11(almost 12) year old pug, and he has recently started having inside vs. outside problems. It's going to hit her hard when he's gone.

    One of the things we liked best about our new house was the hard wood floors...it makes cleaning up hairballs much easier.

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  2. Poor Barkley. That one second of something yummy that he knows will come back to haunt him - still doesn't stop him. Kinda like some humans I know, LOL.

    I'll never understand why they always pick carpeting (blankets are a close second), it's like some animal rule they all believe in.

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  3. Poor Barkley. There's just no good answer to that dilemma when you're trying to be a good dog! Glad he's on the mend.

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  4. Fortunately, ours seen to pick the laminate flooring for their "oh crap! " moments but barf? Oh my, always on the carpet or the couch, usually in a high traffic area so as to increase the chance you will step in it barefoot in the dark!

    Hope Barkley is ok!

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  5. Hope Barkley is feeling better.

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  6. Oh, I so know that look, "Mom, I had an accident. I hope you still love me...." Once in a very great while one of our two Labs has a problem. Fortunately, they sometimes go to the basement right next to drain. That is perfect for such things. But, not every time is fortunate. The other spot is under the baby grand where they know we won't walk so it shouldn't bother us there, right? They are so considerate. It only happens when one of them just can't wait for a late arriving human. We can't be upset at such a time. They look guilty enough on their own. Fortunately, this happens very, very rarely. I hope Barkley feels better tomorrow.

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  7. A couple of times when I work particularly long hours, Sienna has had an 'accident'.

    My self from long ago would've given a loud and not-so-nice scolding, but inasmuch as I can see "I'm sorry, Dad" on her face - and her tail drooped between her legs - I simply tell her everything's alright, and go about the business of taking care of the business.

    She's much too sweet a soul to raise my voice or hand to.

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  8. We had a Lab with stomach issues, and the vet said that he thought that some dogs equate carpet with grass, which is why they get up off a perfectly easy to clean tile floor and run to the carpet to let loose.

    Perfect timing on this post...we brought home two new puppies last night and are working through those first days of constant vigilance and carpet cleaning.

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  9. Awe. They give us everything and break our hearts in the process. It's worth every minute.

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  10. john board - you understand.

    greg - this was just a upset from eating something not approved, but if it gets to the other, I will deal with if. Fortunately, the main residence, is all hardwood.

    naturegirl - he knows, I know he does, but it doesn't stop him. There was one day, a whole bunch of bloggers were staying at my place for an Indy blog meet, and someone fed him about 1/4 pound of bacon. It was NOT pretty.

    Auntie J. - and you know I had your family on my mind when I wrote this. I am so happy you come home to that joyous noise every day.

    Monkeywrangler - blankets! Yessss!!!

    Richd - please give a holler when you're coming up I70 East to go North. I know he would love to see you again, and you are always welcome here for supper.

    Lois - you indeed, have been through this. They are almost cute, in their consternation.

    The Donald - You did well, I expected nothing more from you. You're truly one of the good ones.

    Harper - congratulations on the new puppies! I will probably not get another one, eventually adopting a rescue dog like Dad did, but they are so much fun.

    Jennifer - It is indeed.

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  11. You gotta stop making me cry. That's one of the best posts about us and our dogs I've ever read. But then, that's hardly a surprise. Give Barkley a hug from all of us.

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  12. Not sure my first comment stuck. I said you had me at the title, and it just kept getting better.

    I'm Tweeting this one.

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  13. Sox - it's the dust, I tell you. I cried when I read about Angus getting injured, and I cried even more when he was all well, thanks to your love and care.

    Mathew - Thank you, and I appreciate the link. I don't do any social media (there are barely enough hours in the day for this blog and I'm surprisingly private for being so public with the blog) so such stories being shared, are appreciated.

    I finished your book "If the Woodsman is Late" It was tremendous!! and so glad Barnes and Noble had it.

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  14. Six - sorry long day. At least it was an "o" and not an "e".

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  15. John said it best in the first comment...

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  16. Bad stomach days notwithstanding, I would say Barkley is a very fortunate to have you.

    I'd bet plenty of guys out there would be jealous of such a lucky dog.

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  17. More than once, I have had a dog hop up on my bed, barf on a pillow, and look at me. I'd love to know what the dogs is thinking.

    No, they are not cheap. But between the Pug and the chihuahuas, I'm always amused!!

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  18. Even when they drive me crazy and are jumping on the last shred of a nerve I have, the squeals of delight that welcome me home have the same sort of power that I've heard the first sight of a newborn baby does for an exhausted mom: you forget all the work and the tears and the pain and the insanity. In that moment, there is nothing but pure,unadulterated love. Even better than that is when I hear the happy shrieks of "Daddy!" when my husband arrives home.

    Tonight, they all piled on him to snuggle while he snoozed through something on Netflix on his tablet, and they watched Disney Junior. I love that.

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  19. Auntie J - You are blessed beyond riches. But I think you know that. Big hug!! I'll drop you a note tomorrow off line, I got in late from work tonight zzzzzzz

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  20. Glad he's okay. Give the defender of the home turf an extra petting for us, please?

    It's barely been a week since we brought a cat home from the shelter (after all, how can Calmer Half be a proper science fiction writer without a cat? If we go by the example of Heinlein, I might need to go back to red hair again, too...)

    Today she's favoring her right front paw, and not putting weight on it. So I scooped her up gently, scritched her and said, "Guess who's going to get their first vet visit, hmm?"

    The teenager I'd been helping with factoring polynomials (long story) looked at me. "You're not upset?"

    "Why would I be upset? She's a cat. Vet bills come with having them."

    ...as for the meat-juice-soaked napkin, well, I understand Barkley. For me it's girl scout cookies - specifically thin mints.

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