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Day 11: Dogs


He loved Barney even when he grew to be larger than Miles, even when his overgrown puppy-ness pushed Miles to the ground, even when he ate part of Miles’ dinner or dessert. He loved that dog. He’s a dog person and I tell people often that I think he likes dogs better than people.

We discovered about a year later that Dave was allergic to Barney Fife. Dave got allergy shots, took antihistamines as we brushed and washed the dog and vacuumed or swept til we were sick to death of vacuuming and sweeping. Nothing seemed to help.

Not long after that we began to consider moving back to Chicago and we came to the difficult decision that Barney Fife would need to find a new home. We knew that we could not care for him well in the big city, especially with how overwhelmed I felt already with parenting the human children. We reached out to our breeder and she was able to place him in the home of someone in Florida who was looking for a grown Golden Doodle.

We communicated by email for a long time and then one day they drove up from Florida, loaded Barney into their minivan along with their two children and took him to his new home. The breeder suggested that we not “give away” the dog but rather to charge a small amount. She said that in her experience this resulted in a better and more lasting placement.

Miles was only about three years old, perhaps closer to four by the time the deal was done. He was heartbroken when they drove off with his dog. He cried for days. He’d find Barney’s stray toys around the house and carry them around, crying and moaning. We had tried to lay groundwork for the change but nothing could have prepared him for the loss of his best friend.

I suppose life happened then and he got distracted with growing up and we got distracted with eventual move to Chicago. We still remembered Barney and at night sometimes, Miles would want to pray for him and for his health. I dreamt once that the family in Florida called to say they had given him away. He was too much for them to handle. I considered emailing the family but could not bring myself to do so.

When Miles got to the third grade he was given an assignment to write a biographical story and to our surprise, he wrote about Barney. His words in the story were eloquent and the story itself was heartbreaking. He drew pictures to illustrate the hurt and grief over the loss of Barney. His teacher was so impressed she made a point to ask me about it on the playground. Because Miles had not talked about the dog in so long it took me aback. I read the story at report card pick up a few weeks later and the last lines of it brought me to tears- “My dad took money from the man and then Barney got into the car. They drove away and I cried and ran and ran but there was nowhere to run.”

I had no idea he held that grief for so long or that it ran so deep in his young heart but it reminded me of my own grief, my own losses and how deeply they run in me. He’s a chip off the ol’ block, that kid. I’ve asked him about it now a few times, probing carefully so that his future therapist will not find new trip wires installed from my own guilt. He’s forgiving of it, philosophical really, saying things like, “well, I was angry but now I just miss him” or “I forgive you for selling him, I wish we’d buy him back though.”  He angles for another dog, begging for one every few days. We wish we could give him what he wants but of course, it’s not possible at this point. He’s just going to have to wait until he builds his own life to add a dog to it. It’s hard to wait.

The future feels like forever to a boy with a long memory.

#regret #allergies #dog #love #boy #goldendoodle