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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

My Barley Dog Makes Me Smile This & Every Day!

This time last week my little baby boy turned five years old. Now those of you, who know me personally or have been following my rambling thoughts for a while now, will know that I haven’t in fact yet been blessed with the gift of children; and the little boy that I speak of is actually my Golden Retriever dog- Barley.
I’m sure that many of you are thinking, ‘baby substitute’alert, but I can assure you that that is definitely not what he started being, although if I am completely honest with you and with myself, there may be a very small element of that in play now. He is my baby boy and I love him to pieces!
In fact, when we first decided to get a puppy, my husband, (then boyfriend), and I were in a very different position physically, financially and emotionally to that which we are today!
I was truly living the perfect life that I describe so often in my blog- the perfect job, getting paid to jet around the world as a long haul air hostess, whilst also falling deeper and deeper in love with my gorgeous RAF pilot boyfriend. Life was nothing short of a dream, but unfortunately, like with all wonderful dreams, we have to wake up when morning comes, and however much we may try to doze off back off to sleep to recapture that euphoric state that we felt in that dream, it simply slips away never to be felt quite the same again.
Before my metaphoric dawn came to wake me up from my heavenly life, things for me were made all the more perfect in 2006 by the decision of my boyfriend and me getting a puppy.
It was what I had always longed for and on top of everything else, this dream was now coming true too!
Having decided to go with the wonderful breed of Golden Retriever’s we set about visiting potential litters of puppies to choose from and I have to say whatever doubts or concerns that may have been expressed up until that point were swiftly evaporated as we held the gorgeous wriggling bundles of fluff in our arms!
The three weeks that we had to wait between meeting and choosing our litter and actually picking up our little boy to take him home, felt like an age; but all the same gave us the necessary time to choose a name- Bracken, Bailey, Barley and Nugget, (don’t ask about that one!), they were all in the running, but no one name could be finalised. Thankfully when the fateful morning came to drive to Somerset to get our puppy and we still had not decided between the three ‘B’ beginning names, the difficult decision was made for us when this little boy that we had had our eye on, climbed up Garry’s leg and simply looked like a Barley to us all! Thank goodness for that! Signed off work as I was unable to move very well nine weeks after my car accident, I was able to enjoy being at home twenty four- seven with our puppy and have the priveledge of witnessing his bursts of manic energy that would see him run laps and laps around the sofa, again and again and again which would invariably end with him collapsing in a ball on the floor or more favourably on my lap to sleep for an hour or so before the running of laps would begiun again! Having a puppy in our home was so wonderful and a fantastic distraction from the frightening challenges that we were unaware lay a mere week around the corner!
I genuinely believed even nine weeks after my car accident that I would return to work imminently.
I irrationally ignored as long as I possibly could the increasing pain, strange neurological twinges, numbness in my legs and bladder and bowel problem, (related to the spinal injury), and naively believed that mind of matter would prevail and return me to my beloved job any day or at worst any week now.
A week on from picking up our Duracell battery powered ball of fluff that we affectionately called Barley, I was told that with  my increasing neurological symptoms, I needed to attend A and E immediately where a consultant would be waiting to see me.
My husband and I had no idea of the extent of my injuries and being a Friday evening as I lay in the A and E examination cubicle in my gown with Garry at my side, we jovially  discussed how we would perhaps drove down to Garry’s sister’s Devon smallholding to introduce our gorgeous boy to her rabble oft rescued chickens, rabbits, ponies, cats and one-legged dogs, we excitedly discussed having a fish and chip supper by his sister’s wood burner in her idyllic cottage in the countryside when the consultant returned with reinforcements. Four people of whatever job title stood before me as the consultant proclaimed that they may not in her opinion perhaps not rush me to Bristol Spinal Unit for surgery tonight, but maybe wait until the morning as it’s getting late.
‘Sorry what did you say?’, Garry and I asks, utterly flabbergasted, and as the consultant calmly repeated the proposed actions, No talk of serious injury or spinal injury or surgery had been mention at all until this point and we both believed my problems to be muscular in my back on top of the whiplash in my neck. I remember clutching Garry’s hands as I saw him gaze straight ahead in complete shock, an emotion I was mirroring combined with panic and sheer disbelief that this was happening to me and not a character on Holby city or Casualty!
I was a trainer dancer didn’t they know? I lived for travelling, running, cycling, swimming and snowboarding- there is no way in the world that is could be happening to ME! They MUST have it wrong, they must; and to a degree they thankfully did.
Due to the complicated and grey situation in my spine, I had to stay in hospital for a few days whilst all manner of tests and scans were performed, but was thankfully able to return home to my new puppy with instructed minimal movement whilst they decided what to do.
The deliberating of the consultant and registrars actually went on for just over a year whilst I was pulled in to hospital over and over again whilst they decided quite what to do to avoid the evasive and potentially paralysing surgery that they knew that I needed but at 23 would do all that they could to avoid.
In April 2008 the decision was suddenly made for us when the situation became critical, but that was not before having to stay in hospital for weeks on end, time after time in those difficult eighteen months.
Being in hospital so much I missed important milestones in my little puppy’s life, and each time I returned home he would seem huge and all the more like a full grown up dog every time!
During my hospital admissions Garry or my parents (or Garry was away with the RAF), would bring my little Barley to the hospital car park and if I was well enough would wheel me down to see him.
If I wasn’t well enough I would join the other lovely ladies who I shared the orthopaedic ward with in waving at the confused little creature from the first floor hospital window!
Simply speaking, Barley became my world, my entertainer when I needed a smile and my comforter when I was finding the world all to unfair with many a time that is his head would become covered in snot and tears if a tissue were not to hand!
There was even time when I slipped in the bath and almost screamed loud enough for the whole of Wiltshire to have heard me, instantaneously my little boy came storming up the stairs with a concerned look on his doggy face, (well, that’s what I’d like to believe anyway, it may have been fear or confusion!), and began licking my hand until Garry managed to drag him away and calm him down enough to stop covering me with his saliva!
Post surgery during my six months, completely confined to bed and 18months around 80% confined to bed my Barley boy would not leave my side and would spend all of his waking, ( and snoozing) hours with his head on my tummy or licking my hand!
What I’m trying to say, as always with FAR too many words, is that my little boy, (OK dog!), has been a HUGE factor in getting me through the last five years.
Having got Barley just after my accident I often think of how wonderful it would be to simply run and play with him like Garry and my family do, but I can not focus on what I will never have, I have to grateful for that which I do which is a wonderful support and now thanks to my new power chair ‘The Beast’, I can have a little play with Barley and whizz around to have a form of play.
Today, my Barley dog reaching the amazing milestone of five wonderful years old is making me smile.
I am so blessed to have both of my boys, although I have to say that the four legged one is a little less problematic and troublesome- (he also talks back a little less!).
What are you feeling blessed and thankful for today?
I thank God for my wonderful dog Barley- I pray for his health and happiness every day.
I wish you the same everyone. God bless you all, be thankful for those things and people in your life that you see everyday and may just become a little complacent with.


  1. Beautiful. If you would go to
    http://michaelmyhero.com just scroll down the main page. We had a rescue dog. You can read the rest. Michael was left paralyzed and on life support due to medical error.

    Dogs are wonderful!!!!!

    You can post your blog on the site if you wish.


  2. Clare Noggin Nordbruch18 August 2011 at 01:46

    Wow, Barley surely is a knight in shining fur, isn't he?! He is a wonderful dog, so beautiful and calm whenever we see him. You are a truly lucky lady to have such a 'guy' in your life. And one day, I pray you will be blessed with the children you so rightly deserve and your beautiful family will be complete. xxxx

  3. Bloody hell, I have just read about my black labrador Indi, the only difference being that the name was Barley!!