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

Life Is So Unfair.

January 17, 2010

I’m not yet ready to talk, but people keep asking what happened. This will be brief and then when I’m able to, I’ll speak about it more.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a change in Barney’s breathing. It seemed slightly faster but laboured, somewhat. I took him straight to the vet who checked him over and said he seemed fine. He checked him well and I was happier when I left.

4 days later, (4th January), Barney was sick after eating so we took him to the vet again, although by this time, I was convinced something really wasn’t right and had to ask Matt to go in with him whilst I waited in the car because I just couldn’t handle it. I was feeling so worried. The vet he saw was our usual vet, the one who found his melanoma in May and he gave him a really good check over. He checked his heart rate, his breathing, his lungs, counted his resps and told Matt what to look out for and if we were still worried, that we’d see about a chest X-Ray for peace of mind. He left with an anti-sickness tablet and some to settle his stomach.

Barney continued to seem a little odd to me. I thought perhaps I was paranoid, but I guess it was mothers intuition. His breathing still wasn’t right so on 7th January, we went back and the vet decided to take blood and then referred us to a cardiologist. We had to go back the following week to another vet as that’s where the cardio worked from. We also had to book in with our usual vet a couple of days before the cardiologist appointment for him to have an ECG so they could send that off.

Barney continued to be sick, although it was very sporadic and happened only a couple of times. He started refusing his usual food, but whenever we gave him cooked chicken and rice, he couldn’t lick the bowl clean enough. We hoped he was just playing us a little and being his usual naughty self.

The ECG was done on 12th January and the outcome wasn’t great. Although the trace wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t as it should be and when our vet called the cardiologist, he said it was possible that there was a mass or fluid around the heart.

We prayed for 2 days that it would be fluid as that could be treated to some extent.

We got ready on Thursday morning, (14th January) and we left the house in a rather somber mood. We did stop to take some pictures that morning, just for the sake of it. Little did we know that they would be the last pictures of our beautiful boy. 😦

We expected to drop Barney off and collect him when his ultrasound and X-Rays (if required) had been completed. He pulled me across the icy car park as he usually did, full of strength. When we arrived, the cardiologist pulled us into the room, shaved Barney under his leg and started scanning him.

He found that Barney’s poor little heart was surrounded by a tumour. Then he told us that the prognosis was very poor. His words were “his heart is still beating at the moment”. He said there was little point in doing an X-Ray but Matt wasn’t accepting it on a scan and requested he did. I could barely breathe by this point and couldn’t speak.

The vet and a nurse went to prepare the X-Ray whilst we waited. The only words that were spoken were me saying “he’s going to say to put him to sleep”. I knew it. But never did I think it would be there and then.

The X-Ray was done a few minutes later and the vet came out and asked us to follow him. He told us to be quiet as Barney was sedated but could still hear us. I could see his eyes flicker when he heard us walk into the room.

There was an X-Ray on the lightbox and he pointed out that he couldn’t even see my baby’s heart because there was so much fluid everywhere. His poor lungs were drowning. Further horror showed that he was riddled with tumours in his chest and he also told us that he had a massive tumour in his spleen.

At that point he told us it would be kinder to let him go whilst he was calm and feeling no pain. Matt asked how long he would have and he basically said “anytime”.

Devastation.

I can’t tell you the rest. This is hard enough, but we were there with him the whole time, stroking and whispering and kissing him.

Barney was put to sleep on Thursday 14th January 2010, at 10.15am.

Our world has collapsed. We miss him more than I could ever express here.

This is the last picture of our strong, brave, gorgeous puppy. He was 11 years, 2 months and 3 weeks young.

Barney Last Picture :(

Thank you all for your kind texts, messages on Facebook etc, they’re much appreciated but for now I can’t reply to any individually.