How to Really Love a Dog

How to Really Love a Dog

How to Really Love a Dog

This is a story of two families who loved each other. And, of course, there were dogs involved. When Jim and I went out of town, Jeanne would take care of our yellow lab Otis and our soft-coated Wheaten named Barley. At that time, she had a dog named Ben (no relation to my son). From the time we got him, Barley was skeptical of men, leading us to think some “bad man” had mistreated him as a puppy. Chuck was not to be deterred, and with a lot of work, Chuck soon became Barley’s person. Barley rode in his lap when Chuck drove and was the chosen one who got to go on trips while the other dogs stayed at home. With time, Otis and Ben passed away and when Jim and I took Barley home, Jeanne was dogless. By then, Jeanne, Chuck, and Nick were very attached to Barley. The only remedy seemed to be to get them a Wheaten of their own.

Barley had not been a planned purchase. Jim and I were at a fundraiser for Catholic Charities in Naples. He was in a tux. I was in a long gown. Barley was an auction item. It was an unusual situation because I was always the one pressing for more pets, and Jim was the more reluctant one. For some reason, he saw Barley and thought he should be ours. He was not going to be outbid.

When I shared with Jeanne my plan to get her and Chuck a Wheaten, she was delighted. No problem, I just needed to contact the breeder in Florida. Imagine my surprise when I learned there were 45 people ahead of us on the waitlist for a puppy.

However, I learned during my conversation with the breeder that one puppy had been set aside for the upcoming Catholic Charities fundraiser. He also happened to be Barley’s half-brother. I told Jim to get out his tux. As we walked into the dance, Jim asked me what our limit was going to be on the bid. I said, “I told Jeanne we were getting this dog, and we are getting this dog.” Perhaps the best part of the story was that Barley got to have a half-brother in his life. The two were inseparable. They looked like twins, and until you got to know their distinct personalities, it was hard to tell them apart. Barley was the shy, reserved brother, always checking for “stranger danger.” Guiness couldn’t greet anyone without bouncing like a spring. Wherever the action was, Guiness was in the center of it. When Jim got leukemia, Barley went to live permanently with his brother. Guiness welcomed him home and never minded sharing his people. Barley had hit the doggie lottery. He got to be a Dedo dog.

Jeanne and I have been talking a lot about Barley’s health this year. He had turned 14 and had a lot of the issues of older dogs. We knew his time was coming to an end. We wondered about the effect it would have on Guiness when Barley left him.

God figures these things out. He decided Guiness had to go first. Guiness passed over the Rainbow Bridge on February 5, 2024 and there were so many Dedo and Bordas dogs there to welcome him. It hit Jeanne hard. Guiness was her person, and she was his. I have known her through many dogs and Guiness, well, he was the one. Barley knew his job and comforted Jeanne, Chuck, and Nick in his quiet and unassuming way. He was two years older and becoming more infirm every day. He waited until he thought they could handle another loss. On Tuesday, he passed over the rainbow bridge, and we all know who was the first to greet him.

Guiness was the best gift I ever gave the Dedo family. The love they gave to Barley was the best gift they ever gave me. Don’t rest in peace Barley and Guiness. Run like the wind, have sirloin steak for dinner, play ball and swim, and show all the dogs at the Rainbow Bridge the meaning of brotherly love. You are missed. You are loved. We will see you again someday at the Rainbow Bridge.