Holy Tornado

To see the soul of your comrade listen carefully to his music.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Good Bye Old Friend

He was not a high priced show dog, he had no fancy pedigree, and never won a blue ribbon. He never went to the groomer, obedience or training schools, he was rather slobbery, insisted the toilet bowl was his personal watering hole and shed without ceasing. On top of all that he had an obnoxious doggy odor that constant bathing could not eliminate.

I first heard about him when I was visiting Patty-Jo in Minnesota. Another daughter called to tell me their brother Shawn who was in his early 20s and lived with me, had gotten himself a puppy. I asked what kind, she said, “I think he’s part boxer and German shepherd, and the other is mastiff.” I was not familiar with ‘Mastiff’ and could only imagine ‘mastodon.’
I was not entirely wrong.

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When I met this dog for the first time, he was a roly-poly vivacious pup with a most expressive face and ‘hoochie-koochie’eyebrows. Shawn named him Barnabas, eventually shortened by me to Barney. I didn’t want to become attached so kept my distance. He was my son’s dog after all, and he might decide to give him to a friend one day. As he grew, a huge doghouse was built, and a run. He continued to grow, and larger collars and chains were needed to keep him home. He loved digging holes in the lawn and playing with his toys, but he loved it best when Shawn played with him

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One day my son asked me to care for Barnabas for a ‘few weeks.’ He had met a girl who was moving to Chicago and he wanted to go with her for a little vacation. Barnabas and I became very good friends because my son ended up getting married, traveled around a lot and wasn’t able to keep him.
Winter came and it was cold outside, so I let Barnabas stay in the house and learned about endless dog fur, dog drool on the toilet seat and sharing my overstuffed chair with a hairy monster, who when stretched out on the couch took up the entire thing. He was that big. If I weren’t such a softie, he would have been out the door. I learned to share my little house with him wondering when my son would come back to re-claim him.

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I began taking Barnabas on walks, which he loved. All one hundred twenty two pounds of him would stand tall with his head held high, and tail curled over his back. Just the look of him was threatening. Very few people ever tried to get close to him. His entire being said, “I will protect my lady with my life, wanna see?” He was awesome!
He was becoming exactly what he was created to be, companion, protector and friend. And slowly I was letting myself connect with this big hairy beast.

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He once fought off five unleashed dogs as we were out walking. As the dogs rushed me, he placed himself between them and me, growled a warning, and then took them on, flinging them through the air like so many Frisbee’s. As they all ran away whining, 'my' Barnabas strutted to my side where he stood tall and proud. That day he was Magnificent. I wished the world could have seen how valiant he had been. That was the day I began calling him ‘Sir Barnabas.” He had become my brave Knight.
We had thirteen years together for walking and playing. He always stayed by my side when I was in the gardens. My constant companion and protector once chased a cougar out of the back yard, then came in, fell on the floor with a loud thump and lay traumatized for twenty minutes when realization set in. He had only seen kitty cats before. This was a big one.
I believe he laughed when he first saw his little Chihuahua friend.

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Ten months ago Barney got a new companion. Sir Toodles Tutley, weighing in at four pounds immediately 'took' to Barney and followed him everywhere, nipping his legs and tail. Barney wasn't sure he wanted to share his home, but within a week he was totally captivated. His last months were spent sharing his food, toys, bed and his lady's love with his vivacious little buddy. Toodles loved Barney too and on Barneys bad days when he wasn't able to move around much, Toodles brought him food. toys and his favorite fuzzy blankie. I often found them curled up together sleeping.

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Large dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis. Barnabas was not spared. He bravely hobbled about when he had go outside and many times I had to lift his hindquarters to help him back up the stairs. His last days were spent laying in front of the fire, eating his favorite foods, playing with his little Yorkie buddy when he felt like it, and being very loved.
In dog years, Barnabas was 95 when he left his painful old body behind and emerged the playful creation, running, galloping and prancing as in his prime.
It is hard to express the worth of a pal like Barney. He didn’t need blue ribbons or pedigrees. He was born the finest of them all.
My son said it best. “I only paid forty dollars For Barnabas and he was the best investment I ever made.

Will I see him again?
The word of Almighty God says that all things that have breath praise the Lord.
Do you believe Almighty God would banish to the pit that which worships him?
Nor do I.
Happy Tails dear old friend, till we meet again.

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March 1992-March 2005