“Barkley Boy, you know how I talk to you? How I tell you my deepest secrets, my loneliest thoughts, my reflections on life? You know how I cry around you, laugh around you, scream around you? You know how I figure out the most complex of problems and the lightest of remedies? And you know how I gossip and confess to you? Yeah, well, I’m thinking of making it into a blog.”
These are the words I spoke the yesterday as Barkley sat on the couch watching me eat my salad. I could tell by the look in his bulgy eyes and the uplift on his underbite, he was in. Or maybe he thought I would throw him a croton. No, no. It was a look of commitment. I promised him I wouldn’t reveal anything embarrassing about him, or break his confidence. I mean, what kind of dog best friend would I be if I did either, right? Barkley tilted his head to the right and I knew, there was my agreement.
See, since my husband died, and I adopted Barkley Avenue (his full non-pedigree name…in case there’s ever a dog show for mutts), he has been my go-to, my confidant. For twenty-eight years of marriage, thirty-two years of a relationship, I had my late husband to tell everything to at the end of the day…middle of the day…beginning of the day. Yes, not only do I like to talk, I have a lot in my Betsy-brain, aka ADHD brain. So when I started to live alone, without my best friend, I talked to myself about everything…and I bored myself. Maybe because I knew what was already going to come from my mouth. Maybe because I already knew my reactions, knew my opinions. Maybe because of all this, the element of surprise was gone. But that changed once Mr. Barkley Avenue came into my life, and thanks to my mother, God rest her soul.
My mother adored dogs, especially small dogs. She died a month before Barkley and I became besties. I feel, no I know, she had a hand in Barkley and I choosing each other. It’s the only way I can explain how one minute my daughter sent me a picture of her friend with a newly fostered dog, then named Walter, and the next minute, three days later, Barkley is in my home after meeting each other for fifteen minutes in a parking lot. We clicked. From the moment I took him in my arms and he sniffed my face, we clicked. I renamed him Barkley Avenue as a homage to the great block I once lived on with neighbors who came running when my husband died. I didn’t make the connection between Barkley and what dogs, specifically this dog, does often – bark – until a few months later. Yeah, I was slow on the draw. Anyway, with Barkley now in my home, listening to all my babbling, I knew we were meant for each other, and I believe my mother knew this as well.
“Well,” I said to Barkley last night, “this might be a fun blog. You’re fun. I’m fun. We have great discussions, albeit one-sided. But I do believe they can be poignant, funny, emotional, and deep, so I say let’s do this. Are you in? And before you answer that, let me just say, I’m glad we’ll be in this together…this new adventure of ours. Because Mr. BA, I couldn’t think of a better being I would chose. Now, go ahead what did you want to communicate.”
Barkley stretched out in front of me, jutted out his bottom jaw and sneezed. I took that as a yes.