Saturday, January 9, 2010

Life without Dog

From Barney
Barney was a Black lab cross, born in 1999. That makes him the same age as my marriage. We bought him and his sister Laurel from a pet store in Metrotown, Burnaby. Just before Christmas we had Barney put to sleep due to a serious illness, and I thought I'd write about some of the ways I suddenly remember him recently.


From Barney

I used to walk him in the morning and the evening every day. He used to wake me up about 6:30am and get more and more impatient until I get up and take him. Grunting and groaning like an old man.

Having a dog makes you go for a walk, you don't have any choice. Now I still walk at the weekends occasionally. When I put my coat on, I check the pockets instinctively for plastic bags. You always have to be prepared for poop as a dog owner. All my coats still have a bunch of bags in the pockets.

Moving about the apartment

Barney was terrible at getting out of the way, and usually used to lie in the place that you were most likely to walk next. Partly because he always wanted to check on us and see what we were doing. Often he'd raise his head just as I was stepping over him, so I'd kick him in the face by accident, and he'd look at me like "how could you do that?" and I'd look at him like "how on earth did I do that?"

At night he'd often be lying there in the shadows, and he'd see me coming at him in the dark. He'd panic and leap up, just as I'd see him and go to step over him. He'd often try to jump out of my way, but I'd try to move my foot to the same spot, and then I'd have to try to backtrack, and we'd end up both nearly tripping over.


We always fed Barney after us; an important discipline thing. But I'd always save him a bit of my meat. So he'd sit there at my feet as we all ate, occasionally sitting up and looking at me expectantly. As soon as I stand up he'd barrel into the kitchen, skittering about on the kitchen floor, his hard claws having no purchase at all on the polished wooden floor.


Barney had a devious streak. For some reason he wanted to poop in the place that would be most embarrassing for me. If we passed a dozen yards for example, he would want to poop in the one that was most impressively maintained, and ideally would have people in it, or at least watching out of their window.

We were once in a nice little town called Horseshoe Bay on a sunny day, and he'd done a few poops and exhausted our bag collection. Then, as we passed a patio filled with happy diners, he squirted out a big stream of wet poop, which they all looked at in disgust and shock. Then they looked expectantly at us, the dog owners, and we looked desperately around for some source of plastic bags. Luckily right next door a woman watched us from her deck, and she came out with some.

As a puppy he also once ate some glow in the dark toys, which he then pooped out as I walked along the street. He waited, of course, until there was a large audience, a group of teenage boys. They were all shocked and disturbed, as he pooped out turds with little bright green glowing lights in them.

Another time on that same street he pooped and then half a plastic bag hung from his anus. Again he waited until there was a group approaching, and they watched with morbid curiosity as I bent down behind him and slowly pulled the bag out.


From Barney

Barney loved playing. His favourite game was "try to get the toy off me". And there was no way to win. He was just immensely strong. You could literally lift him off the ground and hang him by the toy. Eventually you'd get bored and walk off, but he'd drop it then and let you just nearly get it, but then he'd grab it with his 100 tonne bite again, and expect you fruitlessly tug at it. He wanted to play that for hours and hours.

He was a pretty well disciplined dog; you could get him to sit, lie down, shake a paw. But he never quite figured out fetch. To him the game was, you throw the stick, and he liked to find it, but he didn't like bringing it back. If he did, he certainly wouldn't give it to you.


He was a very proud dog. He didn't like to look stupid, which is a shame because of the kind of owners we were.

From Barney


From Barney

Barney loved the snow. As soon as there was snow outside he'd go running outside and play in it like an excited kid.

Guard dog

From Barney

We very rarely heard Barney bark. But one day we arrived back home and he didn't hear that it was us at the door, or he didn't smell us, and we heard for the first time a really deep loud bark come from inside. For a moment we didn't believe it was him but it was.

Another time we had a real estate agent enter our home without us, and he said that Barney followed him around the house, three feet away from him the whole time, barking loudly. We couldn't even imagine him doing that, but apparently he was a real guard dog!

He always used to pick the member of the family that needed watching and go and lie with them. If Jamie was in a room on his own he'd go and lie in there. If Corbey was watching TV late and I was in bed he'd come and lie with me, but then when she came to bed, he'd go and watch Jamie.

If we came home and there was only one of us missing, he'd not be happy until we (his pack) were all together again. One day I arrived home alone, and he was looking past me for Corbey. He saw a woman half way down the corridor and decided that was her and went sprinting down there as fast he could, too fast to stop before bounding into her doorway to give her a big welcome. Luckily she was a dog person, and petted him instead of calling the police.

I guess that's all for now but I'll try to post a few more memories as they come to me.


BEADLE said...

Justin, I'm so sorry to hear about Barney. It sounds like he was lucky to have you guys as his family, and you were lucky to have him.

your pal,

Justin said...

Thanks Beadle! I just came across your comment today.

Frances said...
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