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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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

 

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

Vaccine Update!

August 6, 2009

Lizzie from Dick White’s called yesterday afternoon around 4.30pm. She apologised for the delay but explained that Rob had been going ‘to and fro’ with the Americans over the vaccine for Barney. It turns out that there is so much red tape around the vaccine being administered here because it is not licensed in the UK, that he’s really had to fight Barney’s case and that’s why it has taken so long. It’s all to do with legislation and I already knew that the vaccine can actually only be given by a vet who is under the American Vets Association or the ACVS or something like that, it’s all a bit confusing to be honest. Fortunately the Professor falls into that category so it can be administered by him.

Anyway, she explained that Rob had been fighting. Lots of emails and phonecalls, putting forward Barney’s case and the good news is that that he WON! Barney can most certainly have the vaccine 😀

We’re so pleased. We’re looking at around another 2 weeks or so because the Americans want some more forms filling in by Rob. This is what we’ve been waiting for, another step in the right direction 😀

Here are some pictures of Barney. Some are taken before his surgery, some are immediately after his surgery and some are from the weeks following his surgery. I have also included a couple of pictures before and after the re-suturing took place.

I hope that these pictures can manage to show you that this was a very serious surgery, however, that the effect on Barney was minimal and the cosmetics after the surgery were nowhere near as bad as we had imagined.

I hope that anyone out there reading this blog and trying to make a decision as to whether or not they should go for this surgery for their dog; if they are lucky enough to have that option; will see that it will all be worth it in the end.

This is Barney with our son at our local nature reserve, a few days before his biopsy.

Barney Before Diagnosis

As you can see, he was full of energy as always.

Barney Before Op

Barney Post Op Again

You can see that when he was panting that his tongue hung out rather long anyway.

Post Op Again

Full frontal of his mouth prior to the mandibulectomy.

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This picture shows the tumour. It is the black area between his teeth. Easily missed.

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And another picture of the tumour. Hard to get a very clear snap of it. The majority is hidden underneath his tongue.

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A tired Barney after his biopsy on 14th May 2009.

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His mast cell tumour wound.

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The last picture of Barney taken before his mandibulectomy. This is the last picture ever taken with his “full” mouth in view. Taken 26th May 2009.

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First picture taken post-op. He’d been shaved so it kind of looked worse than it was. Taken 29th May 2009.

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On the way home in the car after surgery. Happy as can be!

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Barney, at home, 3 days after surgery. Looking fabulous! Taken 30th May 2009.

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Dinner time, post op. Quite messy, as you can see.

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Front view of mouth post op. He’s wet because of needing to be washed down after eating. Hence the “trimmed” ears.

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**Slightly Graphic** Picture of burst sutures. Here, you can see the jawbone on display. This was re-sutured under a General Anaesthetic.

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Looking sorry for himself on the way back to Dick White’s to be re-sutured.

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Re-sutured. We think it looked better this time.

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Back home and on very restricted walks with a special lead and a recovery collar.

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Post op and healing well…

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How he looks when he is laying down. Pretty much always has his tongue in his mouth.

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Post op and after a bath, finally! I cut his ears short to stop them getting covered in food but can’t wait for them to grow long again!

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8 weeks post op. Looking so good. We don’t even notice the change anymore. It’s just the same old Barney when we look at him 🙂 Taken 29th July 2009.

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You can see just how nicely his mouth has healed, here. Taken 29th July 2009.

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Back At Home

June 3, 2009

Our first week home was pretty un-eventful, which is good!

My sister and my Dad popped round to see Barney. Of course, people are going to be curious to see what he looks like now. I would be. They both agreed that he didn’t look half as bad as they’d expected, especially my sister. I think she had expected the same as Matt and I – something really horrific. She seemed pleasantly surprised. My Dad was pretty much the same. They both confirmed that it was definitely the right thing to have done which always makes you feel better. We know it was the right thing, but sometimes amongst the tears and worry, you do have your doubts, if only for a split second.

The weather was mostly nice this week, so we spent a lot of time in the garden to keep Luke amused. It also gave Barney a good opportunity to relax, but to also be outside in the fresh air. He’s not having walks at the moment as he has a tendency to put the lead and harness in his mouth when he goes out and we just can’t risk it. It doesn’t make him happy but at least he has the freedom of the garden.

With regard to everything else, it’s hard to not mollycoddle him and to want to wrap him in cotton wool, more so because Luke is way too young to understand what he has been through and still wants to share his toys with him and pat and play with him all the time. Barney also doesn’t understand and still tries to open doors with his nose and therefore uses his mouth without realising it. All things that make us flinch and go into crazy, over-protective “parent” mode. Yes, it even happens with a dog. His lack of pain (for which I am not complaining at all) makes it even harder because he still wants to chomp on things and we have removed every last trace of his toys from his reach, along with most of Luke’s harder, chewable toys.

Feeding has been fun. Well, okay, it hasn’t, simply because it is so messy. We have been lucky enough to be able to feed him his breakfast and dinner in the garden since the weather has been so good, which has been a bit of a blessing because the amount of food that gets slung out of the bowl is amazing. It ends up everywhere. Not only is the floor covered in it, so is Barney and anything within a 6 foot radius. It’s worse right now because his usual tinned food with mixer is just tinned food, which needs to be watered down so it’s real slop. We only have to do this for a few weeks though until he can go back to having mixer again. Right now it is too hard for his mouth to cope with, as all the tissue is very soft and only held together with sutures.

The feeding actually isn’t a problem. It was to be expected. Barney has very little control over his tongue at the moment and that’s something that may improve over time, but then again, it may not. Either way, it’s fine for us. If what we have to deal with is a dog that makes some mess when he eats, then so be it. It’s a very, very small price to pay for his life.

This week proved to be a rather emotional one. I felt like every time I looked at Barney, I burst into tears. Not because I don’t like the way he looks, not because I feel sorry for him, not because of anything other than the reality of the entire situation hitting me like a brick between the eyes. It all happened so fast, from diagnosis to removal, that I barely had a chance to sit and process my thoughts. Any thoughts I did have were purely worry about what the future held and what the end result of the operation would be. I’d not really thought about exactly what had happened, and not only what Barney had been through, but also what we’d all been through.

It finally hit home that my baby, my Barney, had CANCER. It’s one of the worst, most horrible things that anyone can have, and he had it. It’d always been something I’d feared for him because he’s always been quite a “lumpy” dog, but I guess I always thought we’d be lucky with him.

As it is though, and as far as we are aware, it’s now all gone and we can look to the future. 🙂