Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our Old Dog

We went to the consignment auction in Columbus, Kansas that was held every Monday evening. The only time the auction was not held was when Monday came on the 4 of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. We generally went to the auction every Monday; it was a good source of antiques for us. Usually we could get a few good primitive pieces that would clean up well and we could sell at a profit.

Generally my wife Betty and I stayed together so we could talk about what we might want to buy, and how much we might be able to pay and still sell at a profit. This particular Monday night they had a lot of merchandise so two auctioneers were working at the same time.

We separated and each of us followed a different auctioneer. After about an hour of this a friend came up to me chuckling and said, “You should go see what Betty just bought.”

“What?” I asked.
“Go see for yourself.”
Betty had been known to let her emotions guide her bidding and she will sometimes pay whatever she must to own the item she wants so badly. Her instincts are good; we almost always turn a profit on what she buys even if I often think she paid too much.

When I walked up to where her auction was taking place she was not paying any attention to the auctioneer or what he was selling. Instead, she had a tiny dog in her arms and was murmuring to the dog.

When she realized I was standing there in front of her I asked, “What did you buy?”

“You scared him,” she accused me.

Quieter now I asked, “What did you buy?”
She did not answer, but a man standing next to her did, “She bought the dog.”

“You bought a dog at an antique auction?” I asked her.

She did not answer, but her loquacious friend said, “Yep.”
“How much did you pay for the dog?” I asked.
Betty did not answer. I looked at her talkative neighbor, but now he was interested in the auction. Years later she told me $250.00.

We did not stay much longer at the auction; we needed to get our tiny pet into his new house. He was a male, black, Lhasa Apso, with white feet and a white circle around his neck.

We already had a female dog that was half Poodle and half Lhasa Apso, she was blonde and her name was Lil Britches, usually shortened to Britches, or Britchey. Betty named our new boy dog Barney.

Barney loved two things in this world, Lil Britches and Betty. Barney was maybe eight weeks old when we got him, Britches was an adult dog. But Barney was smitten from the moment he laid eyes on her. She, on the other hand, was indifferent towards Barney. Not mean, just indifferent.

As Barney grew up Britchey grew old. She had cataracts, heart worms, could hear only the most high pitched tones; but she had spirit and was much loved by her family, especially by Barney. Barney’s love for Britches was unrequited; Britches had been spayed before Barney was born.

One afternoon Betty was in the yard with the dogs when a lady jogged by in the street with her dog on a leash. Somehow Britches knew a dog was in front of her house and she sprinted into the street to challenge his being there. An approaching driver saw the lady and her dog and was slowing down as he neared them.
Britches ran under the slow moving car’s front wheel which killed her instantly. Betty and Barney were in a position to see the entire incident. Betty screamed and called, “Bob.”

I was upstairs at my computer, when Betty screamed and yelled my name. I rushed down stairs and out onto the porch. From the porch I could see everything, the lady and her dog, the stopped car that had killed Lil Britches, and Britches’ unmoving body.

The lady and the driver were very apologetic, but they had done nothing wrong and I told them that. I picked up Britches’ still warm body and brought her back into the yard and buried her in a nice spot. Betty and Barney were still on the porch. Perhaps in shock, both seemed unwilling to acknowledge what had just happened.
Barney is now old, 84 in dog years my wife tells me. Now he has cataracts, he is stone deaf, but he has no heart worms. Sometimes he is a frisky as a pup, but not often and just for a few minutes. Mostly he sleeps, he sleeps a lot. It is my opinion that he dreams of Lil Britches. I hope he does.

Now Barney is dead, he did not die naturally, but at the hands of a veterinarian. Barney was stone deaf and had recently lost all sight. I carried him out several time a day to go to the bathroom, He sometimes had to go during the night, but that was alright because he left little brown balls that were dry and easy to pick up with a napkin and then flush them.

As Barney’s condition worsened we spent more and more time with him at the veterinarians, they could usually help his condition temporarily, but nothing could bring back our happy, boisterous Barney. We decided that at the next seizure he had, the next time he whimpered in pain, we would take him to the vets and have them end his misery. But we procrastinated and put off the inevitable until finally we had to do something.

I took Barney to the veterinarians, and sat in the waiting room with him on my lap. Betty did not come with me. When it was our turn to see the vet I carried Barney into the room and put him on the table, but kept my hands on him, I did not want him to think I wasn’t with him. When the veterinarian came into the room I tried to tell him why we were there, but the words were not coming easy. The vet asked, “Has his time come?” I nodded my head and said, “Yes.”

The nurse left the room and soon came back with a syringe and a vial of liquid. The doctor withdrew some of the liquid into the syringe and looked up at me. I nodded my head and he gently slid the needle into Barney’s hip, there was no reaction from Barney, the doctor pressed the plunger on the syringe. Barney seemed to sigh and water began spreading on the stainless steel table. “Is he gone,” I asked.

“Yes,” said the doctor. “If you want me to I will see to his remains respectfully?”

I nodded yes, patted Barney on the shoulder and said, “Goodbye, Barney.” As I walked out of the room the nurse was blotting up Barney’s last urine. When I paid the lady outside tears were streaming down my face. I sat in the car a long time, thinking about the years we had shared. Finally I drove home to tell Betty it was over.

Bob Collins


At December 2, 2008 at 9:18 PM , Blogger John Inman said...

Sounds like you lost a good friend in Barney. You always hear that dogs are man's best friend. Your blog was very touching. My daughter lost her dog once and I had to tell her about it. Not only was it tough for her, but me as well. Dogs are very special. Thanks for sharing the memory of your's.

At December 3, 2008 at 9:55 AM , Anonymous Bob said...


I think everyone over the age of 12 has had to say goodbye to a much loved canine friend. As we grow older our chance of outliving our pets grow less and less. It is like we are losing a part of our own lives.


At December 4, 2008 at 6:58 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

I think it is more emotionally intense to lose a pet in our old age than it was as a youth. My daughter is a veterinarian and has to be the one to administer the euthanasia shots. I don't think I would like to do that.


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