Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bear and Barney

I got a new dog this week. He was being given away on Freecycle, and I have been wanting a dog, especially with Steve working away. The house is so quiet and I don't think I have ever been so lonely. Anyway, the research I have done on different breeds indicated that a yellow lab might be the right breed, providing the particular one was submissive. Happy, the beagle we have now, is a domineering brat when it comes to other dogs. She is not, however a great companion or a watchdog in any sense of the word. As near as I can figure she is closing in on 12 years old and likes to lay around, sleep, eat and ride in the truck.

When the offer came up for a yellow lab, I made arrangements to see him right away, and brought him home. He is friendly, calm, submissive and playful. He is also quite a beautiful dog and took to me almost immediately.

The surprise for me is that as much as I am falling in love with this dog, and in many ways he is a much better dog for me than Barney was, I find myself missing Barney terribly. The grief that I have managed to shove aside and hide from for quite some time has surfaced big time as I hold onto this great big lapdog and cry.

I don't really understand it, except that it is pretty hard to keep your heart shuttered when faced with this big lovable galoot. As the love and affection for this dog are felt, in equal or greater measure the sorrow that I have managed to push back is pouring out of me.

Sorrow and joy, grief and happiness are mingled. I am so acutely aware of the loss it is as if it happened yesterday. I steeled myself to get through putting him down and kind of let myself believe that he was merely around the corner, outside playing or downstairs and his lovable little face would come around any moment. I don't know if this is typical or not. Perhaps I am odd in the way I trick myself into not feeling the most painful things by pushing them aside and playing mind games with myself.

It's been almost four months if I add it up right. For four months I counted up the advantages to being without Barney. Far less hair everywhere; no constant watching to make sure he didn't break out of the fence; no more foul breath in my face, and far less doggy farts smelling up the house. I didn't have to worry as much about the beagle, because she became far more attached to me without him there. Less food to purchase, less poop to scoop.

I was kidding myself. All those things are true, but oh how I miss him. I miss that goofy face and personality. I miss his protectiveness and his loyalty. I miss him following me everywhere I go. I miss the way he loved riding in the truck.

Strangely, those behaviors that Bear has that mirror Barney don't lessen the grief. I love those things in him, but they also are really bringing the pain to the surface. I cannot hide from it. Oh how I miss my buddy.

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