Our dog, Barney, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever/Springer Spaniel cross, was diagnosed with an oral melanoma on 21st May 2009. This came as a great shock and the process to begin treatment happened very quickly. I’d like to share his story with you because I don’t think that there is enough information regarding canine oral melanoma available. Most dog owners will have never heard of it, nor would they know what to look for. I was not aware that this type of cancer occurs more commonly in the following dogs;

Black/dark dogs
Male dogs
Dogs aged between 9 years and 12 years

Had I known this, being an already very over protective and over cautious pet owner, I’d have been much more vigilant and looked out for signs of early cancer; especially as Barney is a black, male dog, aged 10+ years.

The following excerpt/information is taken from this website:

http://www.petcancervaccine.com/melanoma/oral.shtml

Early Signs of Canine Oral Melanoma

Most oral tumors are not noticed early, because it can be difficult for a dog owner to look inside the dog’s mouth. As a result, many tumors go undiagnosed — and untreated — until they are advanced. By then, the dog has a poorer chance of recovery.

Fortunately, tumors in the mouth, including canine oral melanomas, are easy for your veterinarian to detect during a routine oral examination. This can mean the difference between life and death for many dogs.

Dog owners can help identify the presence of tumors by looking for secondary signs, including:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding
  • Loss of teeth
  • Facial swelling

If you notice any of these signs, it is always a good idea to notify your veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows best how to proceed to diagnose cancer or eliminate it as a concern for you.

Part of the diagnosis for oral tumors often includes a biopsy, or removing a small tissue sample from the tumor and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. Your veterinarian also may use x-rays or other diagnostic tools the help stage the cancer.

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3 Years and Still Tears

January 13, 2013

It’s three years tomorrow since I last held my boy. I can’t believe its been so long now, but somehow, it is all so raw and it feels like just yesterday.

It’s meant to snow tonight/tomorrow. I think it will and I know it will be him.

We have your balloons ready, Barney. They’ll be flying up towards you on your rainbow tomorrow morning. Xxx

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Two Years

January 14, 2012

It’s been two years since our beautiful Barney completed his life in this world and moved on to his next – to his rainbow in the sky. It’s quite apt that we tell Luke that Barney is on a rainbow looking down, simply because for a dog that was black and white, he was one of the most colourful characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of having in my life.

Two years on I still miss him terribly. There is still a big hole.

Today we’ll send balloons up to his rainbow with our messages. We know he’s up there having a ball.

We love and miss you so much boy xxxxx

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Happy Birthday

October 21, 2011

I just want to say something very simple today.

‘Happy Birthday’ Barney.

Nobody will ever truly understand how much I still miss you. People probably think ‘it’s just a dog’ but you were so much more than that. You fought such a tough battle with cancer. You lost half your jaw and never once let it get you down. Had you been human, people would say how brave you were. Cancer is cancer, no matter who or what you are. You were simply amazing.

Balloons will be flying up toward your rainbow this afternoon. Make sure you look out for them. XxXxXxX

 

One Year…

January 13, 2011

This time last year, I was laying on the hall carpet,
cuddling my beautiful Barney, the boy who had been my best friend
for very nearly 11 years, trying to convince myself that I could
hear his heart beating properly. Trying to convince myself that he
was well and trying to convince myself that it was all a mistake
and that we’d come home from his next appointment at the vet’s,
laughing and smiling. Deep down, I knew, just knew that I was
wrong. It’s been a year since we had to say goodbye to him. A whole
year since he was here, snoring at our feet and able to stroke and
cuddle him. I miss him more than words can say. Not a day passes
where I don’t think of him and where he’s not mentioned in this
house. I love and miss you Barney. You will always be with us and
we’ll never forget you. We’ll do something special for you on your
first anniversary. Look out for some special balloons heading up toward your rainbow. Love forever, Mummy xxxx

On Your Birthday, Barney

October 21, 2010

Today is Barney’s birthday. He would have been 12.

A year ago, when we took him to Old Hunstanton, all together as a family on his 11th birthday, it didn’t cross our minds that he wouldn’t be here for this birthday. We were just so happy at the thought that he was well and had beaten that vicious disease. How wrong we were.

It breaks my heart. That’s all I can say.

Barney, we love you and we miss you so much. We’ll be going to the beach this afternoon and sending you some special balloons up to your rainbow. I hope you get them.

With Lots of Love from Mummy, Daddy and Luke
XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxX

8 Months

September 14, 2010

It’s 8 months today since we lost our beautiful Barney. 8 months since we last touched him, kissed him and cuddled him. 8 long months and it’s not getting any easier.

I miss everything about him. Winter is fast approaching and I know I’m going to miss the muddy paw-prints that used to make a real mess of the tiled kitchen floor, the muddy paw-prints that used to stain our carpets and the muddy paw-prints that sometimes ended up on our duvet cover. I already miss the hair that used to carpet our floors and gave me reason to hoover two, sometimes three times a day. I miss tripping over my little bundle of black, furry energy.

He’s everywhere. He’s spoken about daily. Luke mentions him every single day at breakfast. Whether he remembers Barney or not, remains to be seen, or if his ‘memories’ are through the pictures that decorate most walls in this house, shelves and our fridge and through the chat that he hears between Matt and I. Who knows. I hope he does remember him. He asks to kiss his box every day, because he witnesses me doing it. It may be his ashes but to me it’s the one thing I can touch and feel close to him in some way.I don’t care if people think that is weird. It’s what I want to do.

Barely anything of his has been moved in this house. His collars that have been collected over the years, and then retired when he got a new one (most Christmases), are still hanging from the airing cupboard door handle. His bed remains on the floor next to our bed where he slept his entire life in this house. His toys have been put away in a box because we had to collect them from all over the house, garden and car. I didn’t want to lose the smell of him from those things and didn’t want anyone else touching them so they were stored safely. His shampoo is still sitting on the side of the bath and I smell that frequently because he always smelled so fresh due to needing baths so often.

I don’ t think I will ever move these things. I don’t see a need to.

All I can hope for is that this winter brings some snow. Why? Because Barney loved the snow and snow for us is now associated with him. Some of my fondest memories of him are of through the years when it snowed. My final memory is not so fond. His final footsteps were on snowy ground and I will never forget that.

I miss you Barney. My heart is still entirely broken.

Missing Him

June 27, 2010

It’s been five and a half months since Barney left us. It’s been hard. I miss him so much that it still hurts to think about him not being here.
I see dogs out and about and can’t bear to make eye contact with them for fear that I’ll see something in their eyes that will remind me too much of him. It’s ridiculous because I remember every single thing about Barney and I don’t need another dog to kick start me memories. I remember the way his fur felt, the way it curled around his neck and the smoothness of the fur around his eyes and down to his nose. I remember the way he smelled and so many smells remind me of him too.

I miss him being under my feet and tripping over him. I miss him sitting in the kitchen waiting for his dinner and any food that may have fallen on the floor. I miss the craziness of him getting his lead on to go out for a walk – as if every time was the first time. I miss hearing him twitch and snore in his bed at night. I miss him scratching and scraping at his bed because it’s too lumpy. I miss him barking at us in the morning to force us out of bed because he wants his breakfast. I miss him running up to meet us when we come home. I miss having to call him downstairs to make sure he is okay. I miss sticking my hand down his throat to retrieve something he had eaten that he shouldn’t have. I miss playing with him. I miss brushing him. I miss having him to worry about. I miss our trips in the car whether it be to the park or the vets. Everywhere we took Barney was an adventure. I miss seeing him and Luke together.

I just miss HIM. Everything about him. Every aspect of him and his/ours lives. I cry daily for him. I kiss him and I speak to him every day. If I had a wish…..

A Lifetime Wish

March 8, 2010

If we could have a lifetime wish,

a dream that would come true,

we’d pray to above with all our hearts

for yesterday and you.

A thousand words can’t bring you back,

we know because we’ve tried.

Neither will a thousand tears,

we know  because we’ve cried.

You left behind our broken hearts

and happy memories too…

but we never wanted memories;

we only want

YOU.

Missing you Barney Boy. So much. I love you baby xxxx

I had Barney from 14 weeks old. We spent exactly 2 weeks short of 11 years together. That’s a third of my entire life. It’s a long time.
Some people have dogs and they sleep in the kitchen/hallway, get walked because it’s necessary and are confined to certain parts of the house. Not Barney, he was a real part of the family. He slept in our room in his own bed, we went on family walks and even took him out for special walks on his birthdays. We wrote him cards and wrapped him presents for all special occasions (birthdays, Christmas etc). He was included in everything we did. He was a proper part of the family. He may have been a dog but we treated him like a child. Yes, he toileted in the garden but you have to draw a line somewhere. I’m sure that had we been able to train him to use a toilet, we probably would have done.

I get the feeling some people think that a week of grieving for a dog is more than enough, that I should be over it by now and getting on with things and just be grateful for the other things I have in life. Just because I feel depressed right now, doesn’t mean that I’m not grateful for my beautiful, (almost) 2 year old. My love for him is unconditional, just as it was, and still is for Barney. I don’t need to be told to be grateful for what I have. I already am very grateful but it doesn’t lessen the pain that I’m feeling about losing one love of my life.

I know time heals. Well, actually, that’s rubbish. It doesn’t heal, it just makes the pain feel less raw and grief easier to cope with. I know that in time I will be able to remember Barney with smiles and laughter, but, there will always be tears too.

Barney made up a quarter of this family unit, and we’re a very tight unit, so losing him has made a big difference to our lives. It’s had a massive impact and it’s not one that we’re going to just get over. It’s going to take time.

I’ve spent years supporting others, never asked for anything, rarely complained, so it’s sometimes a little saddening that I don’t get the same level of support when needed.

Such is life though.

It’s a week today (Thursday) since we lost Barney. It’s been one of the toughest weeks we’ve ever faced as a family, it’s been horrible. We cry every day and life is very different.

Barney was such a happy, bouncy, bright dog. He had a special presence and he lit up a room. He seemed to touch everyone he came into contact with. People have been devastated at the news of his passing. It brings us some comfort to know how much he was loved by others too. The messages, cards, flowers and a special gift to name a star after him have been very much appreciated.

The house feels very empty. It lacks life. There seems to be too much space now and we’re not liking it. I moved here in January 2001 with Barney; this was prior to Matt moving to Peterborough, so Barney and I have never been apart. It’s a big adjustment and it’s going to take a long time to come to terms that he has gone.

Today was a very emotional day. Barney had his final journey. Fortunately, that journey was with us, his Mummy and Daddy. Matt and I travelled to Northampton, to PCS (Pet Cremation Services) as we’d arranged for his cremation at 11.30am. We wanted to be there, just to feel close and so he’d not feel alone. It also meant that we could bring him home the same day too; something we really wanted to do.

Whilst we waited, we visited the chapel of rest. We chose not to see Barney, we felt that the memories we have of when we last saw him were calm and pleasant. We want to keep those memories. In the chapel of rest, we created a page in a Book Of Condolence for Barney. We added three beautiful pictures of him in the snow, and wrote a message each and also one from Luke. That was really hard to do but will remain a lasting tribute for others who visit there to see how gorgeous he was and how much love his family had (and still have) for him.

We chose his casket for his ashes and also ordered a “Pawstone”. This is a kind of headstone for dogs and cats, and can be set into stone, laid on grass or put on a wall etc. It’ll have a plaque which will have his name on and a personal message from us. We plan to choose a flowering plant with a special meaning for the garden and make a pretty corner which is dedicated to Barney. There he will have his Pawstone, his special plants and we want to have an acrylic block with his picture made to add there too. It’ll be his memorial in the garden.

Inside the house, his ashes will remain. We don’t want to bury them. We want him in the house with us. He was always in here with us so we feel it’s appropriate now too. We’ve already printed 600 pictures of Barney and placed them all into albums and we have somewhere around another 600-1000 to go. I’m also getting everything together to make a scrapbook of his life. I want to do something extra special for him. He won’t be forgotten and we’re reminding Luke every day. He’s been quite affected by the loss of his big brother. 😦

We went home via the vets surgery today and asked to see the vet who we’d been seeing for 9 or 10 months now, Martin. We wanted to thank him for everything he had done for Barney. Without him, we would most likely have lost Barney several months ago, so we’re very grateful that because he was so vigilant and on the ball, we had an extra 8 months with our boy. I’ll be eternally grateful for that. Martin always did the best by Barney. He never made us feel silly when we kept going back and forth. No-one would have known what was going on inside him without the extensive tests he underwent. Barney was such a fit dog, overall, it was easy for him to fool even the best vet. He managed to fool me right up until a fortnight ago and that was purely just his breathing that gave it away.

Martin seemed to be devastated. He came down and told us that he was really sorry and said “that one hurt”. He meant that hearing about Barney hurt him too. It was nice he felt the same. I guess some dogs just hit the right spot and Barney seemed to with Martin. I think it’s simply because he was always so full of life, never complained or moaned no matter what needed to be done to him and he was just always so happy. I guess as with humans, you just ‘click’ better with some than others.

We’ve speculated between ourselves over the past week that the cancer that had taken over his body, stemmed from the oral melanoma that he was originally diagnosed with. I was a little upset that we’d not got onto the vaccine, but in this instance, it wouldn’t have saved Barney. The cancer he had was not melanoma and that’s what the vaccine protected against, so even if he’d had it, the tumour in his spleen and around his heart would still have metastasised. It’s very likely that when he had his oral surgery, that some cells had already made their way into his body and started growing slowly. They’d not have been picked up on an X-Ray, and most likely not even an MRI Scan, purely because they can only go 3mm deep or something like that (Martin tried to explain today about imaging and that it’s not always reliable). The X-Ray that Barney had in May was clear and so was the lymph node that was removed. I guess it was in very early stages and couldn’t be detected. The splenic tumour would not have shown up in any bloods that had been done as it’s one organ that can’t be detected through blood screening. Ironic. It shows why his bloods were always spot on and caused no worries. The mass in his spleen also couldn’t be palpated through his abdomen, funnily enough, because he was such a fit dog. He was very muscular and this would have hidden what was felt easily once he was sedated and everything was relaxed. Again, ironic. His own body hid the trauma that was going on inside, just because it was outwardly, so fit.

We thanked Martin and although we told him we won’t be seeing him again as we won’t be having another pet of any kind, we both agreed that we will miss him. He’s been quite a big part of all of our lives, on and off since May, and he is just such a likable, genuine person. I wish him all the luck in the world. He’s an asset to the Best Friends practice.

It’s hard to write this, but in a way, I feel I need to. Nothing is ‘normal’ anymore. Life has changed forever and the changes are so noticeable. Things feel ‘easy’, but not in a good way. Our routine feels wrong. The lack of walking, feeding, cleaning up, brushing, letting out, making sure there is always fresh water, a clean bed, and most of all, cuddles and kisses, are all missing. Things that have been part of a routine for 11 years has just stopped without warning. It’s a very difficult adjustment.

I know some people will think by now that we should be over it, he was just a dog, but to us, he wasn’t. He was a massive part of this family. A quarter of it to be exact. It’s a huge chunk to lose.

We love you Barney, and we miss you so much. We know you’re still here with us and will be forever in our hearts. Sleep well baby x x x x x