Back in 2001 when Niki and I were having tons of fertility trouble — before we had our three kids — we did what fertility-challenged couples are not supposed to do. We got a puppy.
Barkley was the first of our three Cavaliers, but she wasn’t the first Cavalier we tried to get. Our breeder chatted with me while we were looking at his dogs and I didn’t realize I was being tested and I failed. Niki was shocked that I could be so clueless about the “adoption” process. I didn’t fail my second test and we got Barkley.
In college, Niki had a high-jumping cat that she named Jordan after Michael Jordan. She had been an MJ fan since his UNC days. Now we had a dog to name and we both enjoyed watching Charles Barkley on TNT, so Barkley it was.
Barkley was the first dog I ever had from a puppy and she was the best.
She was the first dog I ever took to be trained. After a few lessons I figured out how dogs learn, so I decided to skip ahead and I taught Barkley how to shake. The next lesson after I did that, the instructor went on a rant about how laying down and heeling are useful skills but shaking hands is just a circus trick with no practical value. Hah!
Cavaliers commonly have a heart valve defect. Recently that meant Barkley would get fluid in her lungs and in spite of medication she often had trouble breathing. This weekend when we boarded our other two dogs for a July 4th trip to see my family, we took Barkley upstate with us. We knew the outdoor exercise would be less harmful for her than the stress of a lonely weekend at the kennel. Yesterday she had another crisis requiring a doctor visit. Today when she wouldn’t even lift her head to eat a treat we knew it was time for her to go.
I miss my circus dog so much.