In October, 1995, we welcomed a four month old sheltie puppy named Barclay into our family. On Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009, we held him, told him how much we loved him, and said goodbye to him for the final time. The previous day, June 2nd, had been his 14th birthday.|
There is so much to say about our Little One, that I could probably write a book. For nearly 14 years, he was a part of nearly everything we ever did. Even on those rare occasions when we went somewhere that we didn't take Barclay (like our honeymoon to Hawaii), we we're constantly calling home to see how he was doing.
I have never believed in fate, but in some way Barclay seemed meant to be with us. In October 1995, Carrie (my wife, but then my girlfriend) was getting ready to move into my new house in Tampa. She has said she would get me a sheltie puppy for my birthday (also in October). On a Sunday afternoon about noon, we were driving north on Dale Mabry (an 8 lane road in Tampa). Carrie saw a "puppy sale" sign at a Petland, and she told me to turn in. I was in the far left lane and the turn was 100 feet away. There was no possible way I was going to be able to cut a 90 degree path across 4 lanes of traffic. Yet somehow, when I looked into my rear view mirror, there was absolutely no traffic behind me. And so I was able to cut across the road immediately. When we got into the store, there were two sheltie pups. One was running around like a psycho, but the other was rather shy and calm. We took the calm puppy into a room and he began to play with me. As he got really playful and racing around, Carrie picked him up. He immediately stopped everything and just snuggled with Carrie -- resting his head on her neck and shoulder. After a few minutes, Carrie put him down and I started playing with him again. And in the middle of our playing, Carrie once again picked him up and he immediately stopped everything and just snuggled against her. I told Carrie that he was snookering her, but I also knew that he was going to be ours. I asked to keep him on hold that day and we would discuss things the rest of the afternoon. By 4 o'clock, I thought that perhaps now wasn't the best time for us to bring home a puppy. I picked up the phone to call Petland and tell them that, when I looked at Carrie. She had tears running down her face and asked how could we let someone else take home "our" puppy? And the rest, as they say, is history. I got the house ready for a puppy and brought Barclay home that Wednesday. And Carrie (and Henry) moved in on Saturday.
Our little boy got the name Barclay as a compromise between Carrie and me. She wanted him to have a good, solid name. While I, on the other hand, wanted something different. Carrie came up with the perfect compromise -- Barclay. It was a solid, traditional name, yet it was also a name of a minor character from Star Trek. It also seemed to fit our boy well as we quickly discovered that shelties love to hear themselves talk, and so Barclay became very appropriate.
We also discovered just how smart Barclay was. Carrie taught him to count up to 5. And for the rest of his life, if you stood in front of Barclay, said a number between 1 and 5, and held up corresponding number of fingers on one hand, Barclay would "bark" the correct number. And Barclay easily mastered the obedience class we took him too, yet he also almost failed it. The class was 8 weeks long and training was based on repetition. After about 3 tries, Barclay had most every command down pat. But when you tried to go beyond 3 repetitions, Barclay would stop and give you that look that said "I know how to do this, why do you keep repeating it?" and then he'd just stop and sit. Luckily, the instructor of the class also had a sheltie of her own and realized what we were going through. Barclay also was housebroken in just a few days. I caught him in the middle of doing things right behind the couch. Even though you are not supposed to do this, I yelled "no" at him and rubbed his nose in the spot he had just made on the carpet. From that day on, and for the rest of his life, he never again had an accident inside the house. And if he needed to go out, he would go over to the door and 'nose' the vertical blinds. After we left Tampa (and the blinds), he developed the circle dance. If he wanted out, he would come and sit in front of me and give me "the stare". I would ask him what he wanted and he would get up and twirl counter-clockwise once. But it wasn't just a twirl, for he would also jump while he made the twirl. Thus it became known as his circle dance. We also discovered that Barclay could spell. He loved ice cream and whenever we said the words, he started barking and looking for ice cream. So we decided to spell it out if we wanted it. Lo and behold, if Barclay didn't figure out what we were spelling. We even called it Frozen Dairy Product, and he figured out what that meant. And if you ever said the word "walk" in a conversation, be prepared to be greeted by a happy and barking dog. He could be sound asleep, but if you happen to say the word "walk", he would spring up and race to you all ready to go for a W-A-L-K!
Barclay had his quirks though too. For the first 6-7 years, he would never do his business outside unless you were watching. If you let him out and didn't go with him, he would just sit in the yard and do nothing until you came and watched him do it. This was fine on a nice summer day, but wasn't so cute in the middle of winter or when it was pouring down rain. And there used to be an old TV commercial with John Madden where he rang the doorbell at someone's house. That doorbell sounded exactly the one at our house and for the entire run of that commercial, every time it came on Barclay would hear the doorbell and run barking to our front door. If we caught the commercial quickly enough, we would hit the mute button on the remote to save Barclay another trip to the front door. And when Barclay was just a pup, we heard him barking one night in the kitchen. When we went to see why, we noticed he was barking at the oven. We couldn't figure out why until we saw his reflection in the oven door. He was barking at that handsome puppy he saw reflected back at him by the glass. And if you didn't like getting your toes licked, don't go around in your bare feet near Barclay. Our little boy definitely had a toe fetish.
Barclay moved with us from Tampa to Ormond Beach, and then on to Memphis. During that time we picked up some additional family members (Bonnie, Maggie, Rusty, Brody, Lacey, Blake, Ginny Weasley and Calvin & Hobbes), and also lost some over time (Henry, Rusty, Maggie & Brody). But the one constant through all the moves and all the additions and subtractions, was Barclay. He had a sensitivity that I have never seen before in any of our furkids. Whenever Carrie or I was upset or angry, Barclay would always come over to us and want to be picked up. He would then snuggle into us as if to say "don't worry or be upset. I'm here. Things will be ok." We nicknamed Barclay the Visa dog, because he was everywhere you want to be. And we also called him the PPP -- the Practically Perfect Puppy. Because he was exactly that.
Unfortunately, time takes its toll on all of us. For the past several years, we could see Barclay slowing down. Though he loved to take walks, his legs were giving out on him and if you tried to take him for one he would be limping by the time you got to the end of the driveway. And this past six months, I took to carrying him in and out to the back yard to do his business, because he had a very hard time getting up and down the back ramp we had built just for our older dogs. But through it all, Barclay was always the alpha dog. And he was also such a presence in the house. You always knew where he was. And every night, though he could hardly walk, when "mom" got home he always ran as fast as he could to the back door to greet her as she walked in. On Friday night, Barclay was coughing a lot and I heard some moisture in his breathing, so first thing Saturday morning I took him to the vet. He had an upper respiratory track infection, some fluid was getting into his lungs, and a heart murmur he had for many years was getting worse. We got treatment for these things but by Sunday night he stopped eating. On Tuesday, he starting vomiting and by Wednesday, he could not even keep water down. I feared for the worse, but hoped that I was wrong. I wasn't. When we took him to the vet on Wednesday, they told us his kidneys were shutting down. Keeping him in the hospital for a week, they might be able to flush them out but they feared that the treatment would probably be too much for his heart. After nearly 14 years of giving us all the love he had, we couldn't ask him to continue on in constant pain and suffering just for us. And as they administered the final shot, Carrie and I stroked him and told him how good he was and how much we loved him.
There are two last things I would like to say about Barclay, to show just how much he loved us right until the end. On Tuesday night, despite the fact that he was very sick and in pain, he came into our bedroom to sleep. Almost every night, for as many years as we have been together, Barclay has started off each evening by laying on my side of the bed. In the wintertime he might lay there all night. But usually during the hot months, he would only stay for a short time because it is too warm for him. That night, because I knew how badly he felt, I did not even attempt to pick him up and put him on the bed. Yet right after I laid down, I heard a soft "yip" from Barclay. As bad as he felt, he was saying "Dad, I want to be on the bed". And so I picked him up and put him on his spot. He stayed for only a minute before he wanted down, but he wanted to be with dad like always. And the second thing happened right at the end. At the vet, Carrie and I each held him one last time before the injection. When I put him down on the table for the last time, as I started to pull my arms away from him, he reached out with his paws. He took his head and leaned into my chest as if to say "Dad, don't let go yet. I can still feel your distress. Let me comfort you". As bad as he felt, he wanted to help me one last time.
Rest easy, my Little One. Your old and tired body is now young and strong again. Run with Rusty and Brody. Play with your old friend Henry again. Bask in the sunshine and fresh air. And one day, I will find you again. I will hold you again in my arms and look into your little shoe button eyes. I will see those Eddie Munster eyebrows and laugh at that cheesy smile of yours. And we will be together again. Forever. You are, and always will be, my bestest boy. You will forever be alive in my heart. Love, Dad.
*December 25, 2009. Merry Christmas, My Little One. This Christmas just is not "right" without you and Bonnie here with us. All of our fur kids - even our newest sheltie pup, Beau - are all excited and looking forward to seeing what Santa has brought them. But Mom and I just can't seem to get into the spirit with the two of you absent this year. You were always such a Christmas puppy - I could always find you sleeping under the tree. And this is the first Christmas since 1995 that you haven't been here to share it with us. And though you are not physically here, I know your spirit is with us - today and everyday. You are always alive in my heart, and you will be until I take my last breath. I miss my boy. I love you Barclay. Love, Dad.
*June 3, 2010. Hello, Little One. It has now been a year since we said goodbye. Dad misses you greatly, but knows you are in a better place with no pain. But I still wish I could have you here to hold and love on. You were always my boy, and you will be forever in my heart. Rest easy. We love you Barclay. Love, Dad.
* Christmas, 2010. Merry Christmas, Little One. I have come to discover that Christmas just isn't Christmas without you around. I always remember how much you liked laying by the tree, and playing with Henry around the the tree and the presents. Mom & I miss you so much. Love, Dad.
* June 3, 2011. Hello my practically perfect puppy! It is sooo hard to believe that it has been 2 years since you left us. I had a hard time coming to this page today, as your memories are still so strong in my mind. I love all my furkids, but you will always be my very special boy. Mom & I miss you Little One. Love, Dad.
* Christmas, 2011. Merry Christmas, Barclay! We love you & miss you, Little One. Christmas was always your time. You will always be my boy. Rest easy. Love, Dad.
* June 2, 2012. Happy Birthday, Barclay! Today would have been your 17th birthday. I would much rather remember you on your birthday than the day later when we lost you. I miss you so very much, my boy. I love all my furkids, but you will always be #1 in Dad's heart. Mom & I love and miss you. Thank you for 14 very wonderful years. Love, Dad.
* June 2, 2013. Hello, Little One. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday. Today would have been your 18th birthday. Mom & I both miss you so very much. You will always be my bestest boy. Love, Dad.
* June 2, 2013. Happy Birthday, my Little One. I can't believe it has been 5 years - it seems like a lifetime ago. All of our furkids were (and are) special, but you will always be "my boy". Rest easy, Barclay. Love, Dad.
* June 2, 2015 Happy 20th birthday, my Barclay. It seemed just like yesterday that we brought you home. It was on a Wednesday, with Carrie & Henry moving in on Saturday. You & I had our bachelor pad together for just a couple of days. Then we became a permanent family. We miss you so very much, Little One. You will always be my boy. Love, Dad.
* June 3, 2016 Can't believe it has now been 7 years since you left us. But I still feel you in my heart, Little One. Mom & dad love and miss you. Rest easy, my Barclay. Love, Dad.
* June 3, 2017 Missing you so much today, little one. Much has happened over the past year and a lot of it not so good. Could really use you here & wanting to be held to comfort me in my times of troubles. Some day soon we'll be together again and this time it will be for eternity. Rest easy, Barclay. We love you. Love, Dad.