Dear family, friends and readers,
Yesterday, December 27, 2012 our beloved Barkley left us. He came to us on a snowy Christmas morning 13 years ago, a beautiful, rambunctious ball of black and white fur. Still beautiful although infinitely wiser, he had the grace to see us through one more snowy Christmas morning. Words cannot describe how lost and sad we feel without him, but we can express how blessed we were to have known him, and how honored we were to have been his family. We understood from the moment he entered our lives that we were the guardians of a truly remarkable soul.
|Posing for the Christmas Card!|
Barkley was our family dog. The boys were his playmates and they explored the world with Barkley at their heels. He was a champion at chasing them down the sledding hill, and never failed to join them in the water during the summer. He made a habit of sitting beneath Jim at the dinner table, because he always knew where to get an extra treat. He fetched baseballs for Dan and romped in the woods beside Matt. John was his master and the undeniable alpha male of the family. Together they performed impressive tricks for us and wrestled nightly on the floor in front of the television. Barkley’s joy in the simple things was contagious. He was always there when you needed him, whether to lick melted ice cream off the floor or the cheeks of a tear-streaked face. It was uncanny, but he always had a way of knowing what was needed, sometimes even before we did.
For me Barkley was more than just a dog, he was my muse, my deepest confidant, and my daily companion. We spent our mornings beside the lake and ended each day with a walk beneath the stars. He was always with me, sitting patiently beside my desk while I wrote, and was the best listener I ever knew. He consoled me through every rejection letter I got and quietly inspired me to push on. The day I landed my first book deal Barkley was there, sitting at my feet wagging his little stump tail. He was the embodiment of pure joy, and a master of living in the moment.
In fact, Barkley was so remarkable—his daily antics reaching a near-legendary status among our family and friends—that last spring my niece, Dana, made a blog for him on the condition that I share my adventures with Barkley… or the Yard Panda as we liked to call him. It was only natural that the blog be called Tales of the Yard Panda. Barkley enjoyed being in the spotlight for once, and with his silky good-looks, his deadpan delivery and sarcastic wit, and, of course, his awe-inspiring love of bacon, he was a natural. We had fun sharing our adventures with the world, but by the time autumn rolled around I could tell that Barkley was struggling. I could see it in his eyes—that look of quiet sorrow springing from a deep understanding that his old spaniel body was failing his joyous spirit.
|Barkley playing hide-and-seek with his new friend Mr. Bacon|
By mid-November Barkley had stopped eating bacon. It was a devastating day for us both. I knew it was time to take a break from writing and focus on my old friend instead. I now feel blessed I had the opportunity to do so.
Barkley, our lovable yard panda, has left us, and because he was the heart and soul of this blog I think you can understand my decision to no longer continue writing it. However, for those of you who knew Barkley, or were touched by his unquenchable passion for life and bacon, please feel free to leave a message. Although Barkley may have left this earth, our family takes comfort in knowing that his kind and gentle spirit lives on.
|Barkley and me|