A difficult goodbye

His soft ivory curls were wrapped around my finger as I examined every part of his body with cloudy eyes, my free hand stroking his shoulders as I told him, for probably the millionth time during his 12 years on earth, that I loved him. I told him he was beautiful — the most beautiful Goldendoodle in the world.

I kept whispering to him as he lay there before me on his side, his now nearly paralyzed legs tucked under him.

My heart was shattered as I faced the truth. My sweet puppy was about to die and there was nothing I could do but try to soothe him as he embarked upon a journey we will all have to take one day. As strong as my love was for that precious dog, it was not strong enough to chase away death. Kent, Lisa and I hovered over him, speaking his name and assuring him that he was a good boy and that we loved him deeply. We knew he was suffering and because I could not bear to prolong his agony, we said goodbye to my Barney Rubble.

How I adored that dog. He decided at a young age that he was going to follow me everywhere. I would find him under the dining room table, his head on my feet. He would follow me to the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom. When we were in the same room, which was just about all of the time, Barney would hardly ever move his gaze from me. He was ready for anything, from a ride in the car to the ultimate thrill of chewing a Greenie. For 12 years, this gorgeous creature was always within my reach.

My friends, I know the recount of my life with this glorious dog is a familiar one, for most of us have experienced the magnitude of love we receive from our companions, whether in the form of a cat or a dog or any one of many animals we choose to share our lives with. There are so many stories to be told about Barney Rubble. My tribute to him is endless.

It was my honor to have this magnificent dog in my life. He made no judgments. His needs were basic. He tolerated wearing pink collars, butterfly ears and Halloween costumes. His favorite foods were pasta, hot dogs, chicken and ice cream. (I must tell you that he ate regular dog food for the most part, but I could not resist sneaking in the occasional treat.)

As of this writing, Barney has been gone for three days. I see him everywhere and I hear the jingle of his collar in the dark of night. Kent brought a German Shepherd into our lives, and I see her searching for Barney in every room, her head tilted as she listens for him. Her name is Morgan and she, too, is showered with our love.

My friends, I am searching for a life lesson in this Northern Yarn, and because I am blinded by sorrow, it is a difficult task. Kindness. Love. Forgiveness. Tolerance. Many of these lessons learned originate from a struggle or a challenge. But saying goodbye to Barney? How will I classify that? It is a lesson in gratitude; thanks for the pleasure of loving him for 12 years. Thanks for the opportunity to allow Barney to die in his home, peacefully and with dignity. He was surrounded with his family, and it was my voice he heard just before he slipped away to whatever extraordinary place awaits him.

Hug your companion. Savor every second you have with them. Be kind to them and please remember they love you without reserve.

Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their dog, Morgan.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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