Havvvvve you met Barney? This is Barns, our 10-month old red Labrador pup.
And this is him when he was just 11 weeks old.
Barney made his way into our lives through the service dog training organization, Paws & Affection, here in Narberth. Sarah and I had already been volunteering with the non-profit for a year or so by the time Barns came to the school, watching dogs in our home on holiday weekends when primary foster families were out of town. When we were told that new puppies would be joining the school and were in need of families, we (but primarily me!) were ready to make the 2-year commitment to foster a pup-in-training full time. Then, one night last March, this little lump arrived at our front door.
He was a baby. He cried (an unearthly howling, not at all dog-like sound), he peed in the house, he refused to sleep at normal times, and we nearly lost him in all the rolls of puppy skin on numerous occasions. He was pretty much perfect at that age. He loved to learn, loved treats (great for training!), and was excellent at walking on leash from the very beginning. It was parenting 101 for us, and we spent nearly all of our time watching him learn and grow.
Fast-forward 6 months, and this little guy is not little at all! By 8 months old, Barns was well trained but afraid of everything. What would you do if you were afraid of a trashcan or a reflection? Bark at it, duh. And while his trainers worked with him extensively on these issues, it soon became apparent that service dog work was not in Barney’s future. This was hard for Sarah and I to come to terms with, but we liked how one of his trainers put the situation: “It’s just too much to ask of him.” And she was right.
Now it’s November, and Barney has been a part of our lives for eight, crazy months. He sleeps in our room, follows us to the bathroom (even sticks his head in the shower), and keeps us from going pretty much anywhere because he doesn’t like to be alone.
Once we realized his attachment to us, we started taking him hiking off-leash, knowing he would never stray out of sight. He’s insanely athletic and loves fetch and frisbee. And I can feel myself getting a little emotional now, because this is our last week with him.
Soon our little Barney will be adopted into the most loving family. He’ll have kids to chase around the yard and another dog to keep him company at the house. He should be good. But we’ll miss him. There’s something about loving a dog that can really mess you up in the best way, and Barney certainly did that for us.
We love you buddy! We’re excited for your life and all the love you’re sure to bring to your new family. Xoxo.