We had been without a dog for several years, but on August 5th 1995 we brought Barney and his brother Rubble home. They were border collies.
Sadly, every time we closed our front door, Rubble became physically distressed and we had no option but to take him back. Barney on the other hand just curled up in front of the fire and went to sleep.
All puppies are cute, and he was no exception, but like most dogs, at three to six months they tend to go through an ugly phase, where they are either all feet, out of bodily proportion, or in Barney’s case, a horrible coloured fuzz ball of cotton wool with a leg in each corner, teeth at one end and a nasty smell sometimes at the other.
As both of us were out at work all day, we’d walk him in the mornings, Hubby would come home at lunchtime and when I got in just after 5, I’d walk him again.
Hubby had made a folding gate to restrict him to one area whilst we were out and at night as we had an open spiral staircase which could have been dangerous for him. Barney’s bed was thus under the stairs, but he had access to the kitchen for food and water.
He was a good dog though, even though he developed a liking for wallpaper paste and stripped the wall one afternoon. We put tabasco in the paste mix when we repapered, but ended up panelling that area just in case, plus it was easier to keep clean.
He also dismantled Hubby’s electric razor as we found the screws and coils in his bedding, though nothing was actually missing!
Another day we came home to find a hole in the wall and still cannot work out how he managed to gouge one out so high, especially as it was on the other side of his gate anyway.
We decided he would probably be better off in a secure pen outside, so I sold my electric piano and we used the money to build a proper run and kennel. When we were home of course he came inside with us.
One day we got home to find a nasty note had been put through our door saying we were cruel to our dog, and that a ten minute walk in the morning and evening was insufficient, and our car was too small to transport him (we both had Yugos at the time).
It wasn’t the note that unnerved us so much as the fact that someone knew our habits, our schedule and our vehicles, and were obviously watching us.
We immediately went down to the vets to get him microchipped, and set up CCTV to our property.
Each time we moved house, he had a kennel outside and was happy to sit and watch the world go past the gate. The postman often commented on how good he was, and always had a supply of biscuits in his pocket whenever he had to deliver to our house.
Barney was a little unsettled when we bought the bungalow as he was used to sleeping under the stairs and not having any confused him. He hated thunder and fireworks and used to hide in the bath behind the shower curtain, so we confused him again when the bath came out and we put a shower cubicle in, so he resorted to hiding under the bed.
We had some lovely camping holidays and trips out to the New Forest, where he once herded up a pony then sat down in front of us as if to ask what he was supposed to do next. Another time, again in the New Forest, he found some ‘new friends’ and was running with the horse riders until they realised they had an extra set of four legs that didn’t belong to anyone.
We walked him at least twice every day, he had a good temperament, got on OK with other dogs, and was good with kids.
My Mum would be happy to come and dog sit for us if we had to go away for any reason, and he was most protective of her should she take him for a walk.
On March 5th 2005 we lost him.
He had been given a clean bill of health a few weeks previously, and that Saturday started as any other, with him being let outside in the morning to do his business, then he would play with his football.
The scream of pain will never be forgotten, neither will us carrying him in on a blanket as he couldn’t walk, then frantically getting dressed in turn as the other sat with him.
We can’t forget the trip to the vet, the fact that Barney couldn’t even wag his tail, and the sedation for X-rays. I sat with him on the floor while it took effect.
The vet was marvellous.
He laid it all out for us. There was a chance, but it would take a long time and he would need help to do everything.
Always an active, clean and loving dog, we couldn’t let him suffer, and stayed with him to the end.
Death is yellow, another reason I don’t like the colour.
It broke our hearts.
We weren’t ready, and it was worse than losing the close relative who had been terminally ill for almost 2 years.
We cried together, and alone, and couldn’t face anyone.
Hubby wasn’t working, and I took a day’s leave as I would have been no good to anyone at my desk.
Our neighbours were thoughtful and considerate, they too being stunned by the turn of events.
We had his picture put on canvas and the person who did it for us was a dog lover and understood.
I cried when we collected it, it was so real and I could almost feel his fur as I touched it.
I lasted six days before we went to get another dog.
Originally we had thought about getting a german shepherd, but the one we found didn’t like women, and when we met her female owner, we weren’t surprised. She was forever spraying it with what looked like furniture polish to ‘bring up her coat’.
It’s the only dog I can recall that didn’t want to know me.
Some 300 miles later, we found Maggie, though that wasn’t her name then, and brought her home.
We took her to the vets for a check up, and he was sorry to hear about Barney but glad we’d decided to get another dog so soon. He told us we had a good puppy and gave her her first shots.
Our neighbours were also pleased for us and made a fuss as she sat inside Hubby’s coat whenever we went out. She was a people magnet and that was how she got her name.
Hubby was home whilst I was at work and spent his days training her. It has paid off in spades.
When we took her for her second shots and to be microchipped, we saw the vet who had attended to Barney that dreadful day.
He too was glad we’d got another dog, and told us that although he couldn’t say so at the time, we had made the right decision for Barney. Although that was the case, it doesn’t make it any easier, the pain is still there as if it were only yesterday.
Only another dog owner can really understand and I know a lot of my readers are doggie people.
We have been lucky and have another gem in Maggie. If we’d had the two of them together, they would have made beautiful puppies, but in this life, that was not meant to be.
For those who haven’t yet found or heard of it, look up Rainbow Bridge.