This is the story of one of my longest love relationships.
He came from Canada, sleek and glossy, an athlete with a strong jaw and an intense stare. From the start, he belonged to me. All his life, he has adored me without restraint, without judgment, without second guessing.
I named him Barkis, a reference to a character in David Copperfield, who proposed to his girlfriend with the memorable line, “Barkis is willin.’” It was always a favorite dog name of mine, but I had to save it until the right dog came along. When this one appeared, there was no question.
As a bold young dog, he was kind of an asshole. He flunked out of puppy kindergarten because all the other pups were scared of him. He could dislocate your arm if there was something at the other end of the leash he wanted. Wherever he went, he harassed the wildlife, including that time he chased the salmon migrating across a road. He liked lunging at other dogs and wrestling them to the ground, delighting in their yelps of terror. He never bothered a human except once. Unfortunately the human was a park ranger who ranged too close and Barkis gave him a pinch (not a bite, seriously it was a pinch) on the ass. He put the pinch in Doberman Pinscher.
He was utterly, completely loyal and devoted to his one true love–me. Other people, he tolerated, but I was the Adored and Revered One.
I never had to sit alone, write alone, eat alone, sleep alone, go to the bathroom alone. There is a permanent faded spot on the floor by my bed where he lay on his cushion each night. Even though he hated water, he willingly followed me into the shower, onto a paddleboard, into a boat. He was by my side during life’s glorious celebrations–family celebrations, making #1 on the NYT bestseller list, holiday toasts, graduations and showers, becoming a grandmother.
He has seen me through a long-overdue divorce from the world’s worst husband to a celebrated marriage to the world’s best husband.
He’s accompanied me on adventures–hikes through the woods, mountain climbing, boating, camping, skiing, paddleboarding. I’d say that didn’t go over well, but we did. We went over. Into the 56 degree water of Puget Sound.
The moment we adopt a dog, we know that one day he’ll have to leave us, and it will always be too soon, and it will always destroy us. It’s like falling in love. The risk of getting your heart broken is there, but you do it anyway because the heart wants what it wants.
Dogs live in the moment. They have much to teach us.
Barkis Verbossa Gundersen, you are free to move about the universe.
#Barkis #Doberman #RainbowBridge #Grief #Loss #recovery