Sunday, November 05, 2006

In loving memory of Barnaby
June 2001 to November 3, 2006
He was a great dog, a good friend and a gentle, loving soul.
The world is a sadder place for me, without him.

I am still grief stricken, stunned and numb.

Just after dark on Friday evening November 3 when Darrell was walking our newest dog on the leash-- so she wouldn't run into the road-- he saw and heard Barnaby get hit by a truck, driving too fast on our road. The truck didn't even stop.

Barnaby died that night, three hours later at the emergency vet in Charleston.

I don't think he was ever really in pain-- he was in shock for the first 2 hours and then, once he started showing signs of distress we were at the vets and they gave him painkillers.

We had begun to hope that we might have gotten away with something by then: there was never any blood, he couldn't walk, but he could move the front half of his body... the vet and her staff were so very competent and compassionate, it was a blessing to have such caring people surround us in our hour of crisis.

Even the vet said that she had begun to hope that Barnaby might get out of there with 'only' a bruised or broken pelvis. They had done extensive x-rays and hadn't seen any damage, and they were moving him into a kennel to stabilize him and then come and give us the relatively good news.

However, as they began to move him into the kennel, he crashed.

He stopped breathing and his heartbeat became erratic & faint. They put a tube down his throat and manually breathed for him and gave him an ephedrine injection to try to get his heart going, but it was no use. A tech came and got us and we were with him at the end, which was peaceful and natural... his heart simply stopped beating.

When they took the tube out, it was covered in blood. The vet said this confirmed that he had suffered massive internal soft tissue damage-- it didn't show up on the x-rays. His insides got pulped and his lungs filled with blood and his heart couldn't take the strain.

The good news is that he probably didn't suffer. He was in shock at first which blocks the pain, then he was sedated.

In the hour long drive to the vet, he was breathing a bit heavily occasionally but he didn't seem to be in pain. He slipped in and out of consciousness, but i'm sure he knew i was there with him. He was surrounded by love and compassion throughout his ordeal.

Here's what was going through my head as we drove home from the vet:

In the house of long life
I will wander.
In the house of happiness
I will wander.
With beauty before me
I will wander.
With beauty behind me
I will wander.
With beauty above me
I will wander.
With beauty below me
I will wander.
In old age traveling
On the trail of beauty
I will wander.
It shall be finished in beauty.

And his death did have a beauty and dignity to it. Not what i would have chosen. Or maybe-- not WHEN i would have chosen, but beauty nonetheless.

Barnaby was a sweet, gentle giant. He was my nap buddy and a boon companion.

He hated water. I used to say that he was allergic to it. He was horrified if he saw me swimming-- he just couldn't comprehend voluntarily getting wet.

Yet he was stoic when being bathed, simply resigned to his fate. It was humbling to see such a large, powerful dog so miserable yet so resigned. He was both dignified and silly all at once.

He was a 130 lb lap dog.

He had a rough start in life. When we met him at the Montgomery County Humane Society, he was 4 months old, a 40 lb skinny pup with scary big paws. He'd lived outside all of his life, in a kennel with his mom and littermates. Yet, when we brought him into our house for the first time, he walked calmly around the kitchen and living room, then headed directly into the bedroom and hopped up onto the bed and laid himself down for a nap. He knew he was home.

I was so lucky to have him in my life.

He was my first truly big dog, and his bulk was a wonderful, calming physical grounding gift, especially when i was in distress. When my life was falling apart, in the midst of my separation and divorce, he was a gentle, peaceful companion who grounded me. Simply having his bulk sleeping in the bed next to me through those lonely nights made it possible for me to get through to the next sunrise.

And, once i'd found Darrell and we moved to Hearth Hill, the four of us: me, Darrell, Lucie and Barnaby, he was delighted to be home here. He ran free, especially in the early evenings, just after dark. He'd chase deer out of the yard or just bound about in the moonlight, delighting in movement and freedom.

B. napped alot and he was good at it. Once Lucie died, in September of 05, Barnaby became a champion napper. He seemed to get older and slower. Always a skittish boy, his fear of thunderstorms and sudden noises and of just being alone, seemed to increase.

He was at first a bit taken aback by Animosh's arrival. Ani was so small and so ALIVE that B. didn't seem to know what to do with her, how to respond to her. But Ani knew what to do, and within a month, Ani was in charge: pulling at B's tail when she wanted to play or distract him, inciting him to riot in the house by hauling a squeaky toy up onto the bed and then squeaking it at a napping B till he couldn't take it anymore, and with a sigh B would haul himself to his feet and set about chasing and playing with her.

Barnaby was with Ani when Ani died a little more than a month ago. They were about 1/4 mile down the road together, and B came back alone, more quietly freaked out than i'd ever seen him. B. looked at Darrell-- just one simple, silent, intense moment of eye contact and Darrell knew something was really wrong. Darrell got into our little car and went down the road to find Ani's body.

Barnaby once more was with me through my mourning. It was a sudden, intense grief-- that small life ripped so quickly from us on a sunny autumn day. B. was with me as i wailed and cried, and slept by my side when i finally surrendered to a healing sleep.

And, it seems, B. kept sleeping. After Ani's death, more even than before. He slept all night at the foot of our bed, on his own dog bed. In the morning, Darrell would get up before me and B. would haul himself up onto the bed and flop down into Darrell's vacated spot. He stayed there, often all day, only getting off the bed to eat breakfast, and maybe go outside to pee. Then it was back to bed and only after he was awakened and fed dinner was he interested in going outside for a few hours of night roaming. Then inside, to sleep on the sofa with us if there was TV watching, or back on the bed if we had other things happening.

That was the shape of his days for the last month of his life. We specualted about doggie Prozac. Was he depressed? It was had to tell. So, instead, we got him another dog.

Three days before he died, the new dog came home. She was an unexpected arrival, a gift of fate and healing.

We've named her Bug and she and B. got along quite well. She is less bossy than Ani, but at least once or twice a day she incited Barnaby to riot, and we had doggie chase scenes in our living room again. Bug also was determined to sleep in the puppy pile with the rest of us. Barnaby accepted her, and even seemed happier and more lively with Bug's arrival.

Then, as i said above, it ended. Darrell was out, walking Bug after dinner. It was dark, and B. was running as usual. I think he might have even been showing off for Bug, a sort of big brotherly "nah nah, i can go where i want & you can't" sort of thing.

Then, the trucks headlights, D calling out a warning to Barnaby to "keep his happy ass out da road" and that sickening thud and B's one yelp.

That was the beginning of the end. However, at least we got a chance to say goodbye, to tell him how much he was loved.

I know that he is playing with Ani and Lucie and Blaze. I hope and trust that Mike Lea and Barry Morley are organizing walks and snuggles. It's a good pack that's waiting for me on the other side, and since i don't think time matters over there, i guess i'm already there with them. But that doesn't stop me from missing them here. All of them, but most intently, my big, gentle, huge galumphing mutt. My Mr. B.

Pass to thy Rendezvous of Light,
Pangless except for us---
Who slowly ford the Mystery
Which thou hast leaped across!
--Emily Dickinson

This is the last picture we have of him. We were napping, maybe a week ago:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh sweetie. I am so very sorry. Words aren't enough. I just want to hug you. I want to hug the the big fuzzy dog. I'm just sorry.
You and Darrell are always in my thoughts and prayers.
I love you.