by Kimberly Wade
It’s time. I’ve shared so much of my journey with my pets that I know I need to face reality. And every time I share with you, whether personal or related to Nevada Humane Society, you step up. It helps us to relate, to know we are not alone. So it’s time.
I can’t even get the words on paper.
Barley, my best friend, my first dog, my boy, left me two months ago, on December 28. My husband and I didn’t share this with many people; most of you even still ask about him. But it’s time to face reality.
If you were lucky to have known him, you would describe him as the happiest dog ever. Always smiling, always up for adventure. My sidekick. He went everywhere with me. He was my muse. As long as I was there, he would do anything. He visited Nevada Humane Society often, acted as a secondary foster parent to every pet I brought home and loved everyone. He just wanted to be with people—especially me. He would have done anything for me, and he did.
I shared his journey with Diabetes last fall, because I talked about so many animals at Nevada Humane Society that needed special care, just like he now did. I had never faced that journey myself until him.
It was hard at first, but it got easier. From talking with so many of you who adopted special needs pets I knew we could do this. And by no means do I ever want to deter any of you from adopting a special needs pet—because they are amazing, just as Barley was.
His body didn’t accept our help. We tried everything. Traditional medicine, various types of insulin, acupuncture and other holistic supplements. We think he was insulin resistant, that Pancreatitis was the cause and that’s what quickly shut down the rest of his organs.
He wanted to fight. We wanted to fight. I told him so many times that I would do this as long as he wanted it. But it got ugly.
We lost our senior lab, Gilda in the middle of December. A few days later Barley lost his eyesight. A few days later Tito, our Italian Greyhound, chose to leave us. Barley started failing. I almost don’t blame him. His body was a mess, he lost his siblings, and his ability to live life to the fullest was falling apart. Mind you it was also Christmas.
We knew Barley was done on Christmas Eve. He tried so hard to be his normal vivacious, happy self but he was so tired. He couldn’t see. We kept trying. We saw an eye specialist the day after Christmas. The icing on the cake. Normally, even for vet appointments, he loves to ride in the car. He was terrified. We were told one eye had to be removed, and the other, well, even if we fixed it he would likely go blind again. We had to decide on surgery now. Everything Barley was putting out told us he wouldn’t make it through surgery, much less the recovery. So why do it? For us? My husband knew it was time. I had a feeling but wasn’t 100%. I asked Barley to stop being strong for me and to tell me what he wanted. I told him I would fight but if he was done I would let him go. The next morning, as he laid on the couch, he told me. He didn’t want to get up for food, or a ride or anything. He was tired. He was ready. I called my husband. I lost it.
We spent the day watching movies, playing in the yard and with the cats. I was beyond broken. We got Barley a cheeseburger and fries on the way to the vet; he was so happy! His Diabetic diet for the last couple of months wasn’t fun; he’s a foodie.
We got to the vet. Our team is amazing. They were there for Gilda and Tito. They fought the Diabetes with us. They loved all of them too yet it doesn’t make it easier. Barley was scared and trying to be strong for me but I told him I would be fine. He left us on my lap, in my arms, with my husband and our vet team beside us.
Diabetes is manageable. I honestly don’t think I can go through that again, but with so many animals who face medical conditions, they need you. I need you, because I can’t do it. For all of us who lost a best friend, struggled with illness, making the choice to let them go… we are not alone. And that’s why I write this today. Animals are more than my passion. They are my family. Nevada Humane Society believes in family, and hopefully it’s your time to adopt and I hope Barley’s story will make you step up for someone else in need.
To say our home is empty without dogs is an understatement. The cats are trying to fill the void, but it’s so different. We won’t be ready for a long time, but we know we made the right decision letting all of them go and we don’t love any less because of it.
I’ll leave you with this. I needed Barley to send us a sign that he was okay. The vision was immediate. As soon as he arrived at his next destination, he was greeted with his vision, bright green grass and his brother. Tito was waiting for him. Barley looked up at him, knew it was okay and they moved on, together. For me, knowing they have each other and that hopefully one day we’ll see him again, I can grieve. Finally.