I wrote this is 2004. That was thirteen years ago. I think it is as relevant today as it was then. It is about facing pain, something that many of us have held this week.
Barney showed up in my life about 10 days ago. A shelter
in Northern NM had called to ask me to take a young male who was found running on the mesa. I declined because I had 4 dogs already and my rescue pens were full. Three days later, I got a call from a young woman who does rescue up there. She had pulled Barney from the shelter and had him at her house. She loved him. He was loving, sweet affectionate, great with her kids and dogs, and even her chickens. But he did not want to be locked up and kept breaking out. He had ripped all her fencing, and
broken down the gates. She had to put him on a chain and she knew that it was not a good solution. She was willing to drive 3 hours to bring him to me. So, of course I said yes.
Barney was wonderful and yep, he was a breakout artist. He ripped out the wire in pen #1, so went to high security which has pig fencing and a dog cannot break it with his
teeth. It is also designed so no one can dig out. I noticed when I let Barney be with me and with the other dogs, he calmed down and played and laughed. I figured out that he just did not want to be alone, he wanted to be with his gang. So I rearranged dogs, invited the best, most settled dog in my network to come for a visit, and Barney was in heaven. He had a *pack* and the world was right.
I have another grumpy, old fat guy who snarls at everyone. He got the lock down spot and would do the curl the lip thing and snarl at Barney. Barney just looked at him and said, *Get a grip , dude.* I was looking forward to finding him a loving home.
Thursday evening, I glanced out the window and saw that
Barney was having a pretty major seizure. I went out to get him and it quieted. He was totally disoriented and I had no idea how I could get him to the vet because he was a big guy. He finally stood up and started going in circles. I guided him to the car and drove to the vet. She took him in, and did the standard protocol. Nothing in the blood work to suggest his eating something toxic. After 30 minutes she came back and said, *We need to put him in the hospital so they can stabilize him. I
will load him with phenobarbitol and valium. He may have another seizure in the car.*
It is a long drive to the emergency hospital. And yes, he had another seizure in the car. They took him in. The resident came out and went through the long list of possibilities and asked me what I wanted to do. *No MRI, no spinal tap, let's get him stabilized and see
where we are in the morning,* I said. The late night doc called me later and said he was still having episodes and she was concerned. In the morning she called and said he was walking, eating, wagging his tail and she was optimistic. Fifteen minutes later, she called back and said he had another major episode.
I knew at this point we were in trouble. I
knew that I could not place him with uncontrolled epilepsy. I knew that the bills were mounting and every dollar we spend means it has to be raised. So I made the decision that we would euthanize him. I told her that. She agreed that it seemed to be the right decision. I hung up and felt incredibly sad. She called back in 10 minutes and said they needed a witness to the decision. I decided that I would drive up and sign the papers in person. I did.
While I was sitting in the waiting room, I decided that I would sit with Barney for this passing. He had no one, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. It was part of taking care of my *pack*. I told the receptionist. And I waited and waited. Then they put me in the kill room...I guess they feel that a carpet and upholstered chairs are better than stainless steel and linoleum. The
doctor had told me that Barney was under deep anesthesia. They brought him in and set him on the blanket...a white polyester fleece with multicolored flowers. He opened his eyes, wagged his tail and tried to stand up. The doctor seemed like she was 18. I asked her to just let us sit alone.
So I held him and I stroked his head and as I wept over him, I
told him that he would be safe. I asked my old girl who had died if she would come for him, show him where the balls were, where the fields were to run in and explain that all wounding would be healed. I told him he was a good boy and that I cherished him. He went to sleep.
The young doctor came back. She explained all the stuff. I wanted her to just
shut up. I wanted to tell her that I knew all the process. I just held Barney and he passed. I asked her to leave me alone with him for a while. I turned off the overhead light and simply sat with Barney for a long time. I have been with people who have died. I know that the big soul goes first and the cells are confused. So I told them what had happened. I felt that Josie came for him. I thought about the fact that had he not been with me, he would have died in a ditch on the mesa. Probably his
owner knew of the seizures and had simply thrown him out to die.
I have often said that when we experience a grief, we add a bead to a cord of the like griefs. I put the Barney bead on the cord and then touched all the beads before it. My Josie dog, George who committed suicide by alcohol, my mother, my therapist who committed suicide, my father who
also drank himself to death. One death gives us all the deaths. And perhaps this heart, opened by a goofy blond boy dog, now could experience those other beads because somehow the recovery had allowed me to FEEL.
I got in the car in so much pain, I thought I could not drive. I wanted to drink, to have a hot fudge sundae, to go shopping, to go to a
casino, to have sex, to do almost anything not to have this pain. And somehow in that moment, I realized that this is what it means to be sugar sensitive, to feel so deeply that we do not know what to do with it.
I knew I had to get some lunch. Flying Star has a take out on the way home. I got a grilled cheese sandwich on whole grain bread, and an iced
decaf coffee. I ate it. I didn't drink, I didn't have sugar, I didn't do anything but go home and weep. I just waited. I told my dogs that Barney was with Josie. I made a phone call. The next morning I shared in a 12 step meeting. I did what we do in recovery.
And I didn't die. I found that pain would not kill me, it would heal me. This is recovery,
this is why we do the food. Why it sustains us, holds us and heals us. It is why we show up for one another, and why we sit with our sisters, our brothers, our friends as we learn this new way. Thank you for being part of my life.