July 12, 2003 - February 24, 2014
There is no easy way to write this, but Barkley is gone. It was bone cancer, advanced, and the best of care and all the ramps in the world couldn't keep him free from pain any longer, a feeling that was articulated in his eyes, and not just his movements as he tried to play and could not.
No more pain, no regrets Everything I give him, he gave me back ten fold, listening to me chat away about my day, things that by my oath of duty, I couldn't tell anyone else. He was my black knight with wagging tail, the fur covered Kleenex when I cried. He was the finder of slippers and the keeper of hearts.
He was a dog, but he was much more than a dog.
He was support, he was patience. He was the promise that even with the worst mistakes, he still loved me. He was that fire that cauterized me against loneliness and fear, the thump of his tail like the sound of a heart in the womb, creature comfort there in the dark and unknown. He became the unevictable place in a heart so bruised, it had pushed everyone harshly away that got too close, teaching me to trust again. With that trust, I found my heart's twin, who happily became his family as well.
As family, we take care of each other. Having a pet is a commitment just as is any bond, either visible or invisible with another living creature, is. It's not just being a good friend during the good times, it's being a friend during surgery, explosive doggrhea, and that pile of vomit in the corner on the one square of carpet that wasn't protected by a cheap throw rug.
For there is great measure of trust and love contained in that warm web of bone and fur, the eyes that can commandeer your pancakes and the tail that wags for you as if you were the only person on the planet for them, and maybe you are.
He cared nothing about what kind of house we had, how I looked or how much money was in the bank. All he cared about was how to bequeath that for which sustained him, in his too short life, his faith and his love, as he patiently waited for my return.
When he greeted me, he seemed to know when I just needed to sit in the quiet. He seemed to know when I wanted to play. And play he would. If there was a ball to be thrown, he would abandon all restraint and gave every fiber of himself, to reach that for which was before, only a dream; unmitigated glory. His life was not deadlines, or deals or caring about the things that in all reality, will not matter at the end of a life. His life was simply a joyous run ahead of that avalanche of time that would be his enemy had he any concept of it.
But time caught up with him, forcing a decision that I hoped wouldn't have to be made. But meds couldn't keep the pain at bay and amputation and chemo were only going to buy a short, short amount of time, at the expense of his comfort. I could not in good conscious make him go through that, for there was no cure, only a continuation of pain. So I was there, by his side, not passing on the burden solely to someone in a white lab coat, loving and caring, but not his "Mom". Although he never formally took an oath, paw placed upon a revered document, flag on the wall, an oath was taken. When he came home with me as a puppy, he swore his life to serve and protect. That was his duty, as it is mine.
He had medication to take the pain away, a big bowl of food that wasn't kibble, and all the treats he could happily gobble down. There was no fear in him, no pain, no anxiety. Dad and Mom said goodbye as I placed my cool hand on his warm flank and talked to him down at floor level, in all those murmured words that meant something only to us. Where else could I be but to just be there as the needle quietly slipped in and he was free from all burden, one surge, one leap towards the light so easily and joyously, so as to lose all sense of restraint, weightless upon the warm, invisible air. He was free, the pain of bone and flesh departed, only one long, joyous, soundless bark as he went Home to wait by the Rainbow Bridge until we can catch up.