May 28, 2005
The last few weeks were hard for Barney and us. Every week he would get sick, and then somehow get better. We knew the end was coming, but not its ultimate shape.
Early this last week he was sick again, and we made tentative plans to take him to the vet Tuesday morning. Instead, he seemed enough better that we postponed it again, though Chris and I ended up going and walking the labyrinth anyway.
The recovery wasn't very solid though, and as the week progressed, he was clearly becoming weaker, and more uncomfortable.
Instead of seeming like he was enjoying lap time or treats, it merely seemed like things weren't quite so bad then.
Instead of him enjoying us and us enjoying him, we all seemed quite sad.
By Friday, we were very concerned about whether he would have a problem on the weekend, and Jo checked on their schedule, and found out they would be closed on Monday but had emergency referrals.
Friday night we talked it over, and decided the best thing would probably be to take him in on Saturday, since it didn't seem like either he or we would benefit from dragging things out any more, and Jo and I would have the rest of the three day weekend together to grieve.
After I was in bed, Jo heard a thumping, and went to investigate, hoping Barney was just scratching sloppily and banging something, but afraid it might be some kind of seizure. It turned out Barney had captured a crane fly, and had it pinned to the floor beneath his paw. The old goofball. :)
Saturday morning, our decision still seemed right, so Jo called and got an appointment for midafternoon.
To our amazement, in the early afternoon he went out the front door, and instead of just sitting on the porch, went down into the yard. I got my camera and followed.
After wandering a little bit around the front of the house, he moved into the warm sunny garden against the south side of the house, sitting among the flowers, than lying in the sun until it got too warm for even him. He then lay in the shade along the walk be the front stairs. The picture above was taken during that move.
I went back and sat in the shade on the neighbors walk, playing games on my new cell phone and prepared to take immediate action if any dogs on overly long leashes came along.
After about at least a half an hour, he went on back inside -- total outdoor time was at least an hour -- the longest in months.
In retrospect, I think he may have been waiting near me for me to go back inside, until he finally gave up on me and went back in by himself.
Not long after that it was time to go, and we found him sitting in a small ebay box under the kitchen table -- "Barney Boat Cat" to the end.
Yes, that would have made a cute picture, but I wasn't sure I could bear to have a picture the him where I picked him up and carried him out to the car.
He rode to the vet in my arms, with Jo driving through her tears.
He was quite wide eyed and alert as we waited in the examination room. It was quite special to see his beautiful blue eyes looking at us again -- it has been so many months since he opened his eyes all the way.
The end for him came quickly, with his face buried in my hand, as so many time before.
We had a few minutes alone with him, then left in tears.
We went to the fortuitous grass labyrinth I described a few days ago, but its creator was doing maintenance with power mower and trimmer, so we went on to Golden Gardens park.
We sat and talked and cried at a secluded picnic table on the hillside for quite a while, walked the middle trail to the north viewpoint and back, then drove back to the labyrinth.
Labyrinths have become so special for me, such a wonderfully effective tool for working through mental stress or turmoil, and this one did its bit.
As I came back out of the labyrinth, a neighborhood cat came trotting across the street to meet me, and when I sat down on the grass, it found my lap quite fascinating.
Jo and I sat and enjoyed the cat and talked for a while until the labyrinth's creator appeared again, when we introduced ourselves and said how much we appreciated and enjoyed his efforts, eventually even explaining the circumstances of our immediate need.
Barney was in many ways a defacto "service animal" for me, helping me so much through the difficult passages of mental illness. I miss him so terribly terribly much.
The picture above was not just the best of Saturday's pictures, but it was also the very last picture of Barney Boo. April 1, 1988 - May 28, 2005.