7.02.2011

TO BARNEY'S NEW FAMILY


hi. my name is natalie. my husband brandon and i are barnaby macduff's mom and dad. or, we were. until this morning.

this morning we drove the long drive to long island with barnaby macduff to hand him off to you, his new foster family. brandon is positively wrecked. barney was always his boy; the two of them have something very special. it breaks my heart to see my husband so lonesome for his puppy. though we know it is the right thing to do for barney, giving him the life and the yard that a good old dog like him deserves, it is incredibly, thoroughly sad for us. our family won't be the same without our little devil, and we are grieving him deeply. 

i thought i might tell you a little bit about our boy. so, here are some things you should know about sir barnabus macdufflestuff.

we adopted barney when he was just six weeks old, in a tiny town in northern idaho called moscow. i loved him the minute i saw him, i felt so strongly that we needed each other. so we brought him home. that first night and every night since he slept on brandon's chest, his great big head on brandon's shoulder, his wet sloppy nose in brandon's neck. 

he picked up potty training right away and very rarely had an accident in the house, but he does like to eat poo, so keep an eye out, and be wary with mouth-to-mouth displays of affection.

barney is an absolute terror and never passes up an opportunity to get into trouble. i mean, this dog can sniff potential havoc from a mile away and chase it down with one eye shut. mischief follows him around where ever he goes. he has impeccable taste for calamity and knows how to magically get into the tallest of garbage cans. here is some advice: when you leave for the afternoon, be sure to give him a proper good bye--a pat on the head, a tug on the beard, a description of where you are going and when you'll be back--or else you will come home to find every garbage receptacle upturned and a stash of licked-clean yogurt cups under the bed. in his delicious guilt he will wiggle and squiggle and corkscrew around the room, tap dancing on the hardwoods, until you "discipline him," which means you are to wag your finger at him and predict ominous ends for him and then give him a good noogie on the head. he is a sucker for that kind of thing. 

please be careful with barney around fast-moving kids, loud old men, and overly-friendly puggles. barnaby does not suffer puggles kindly, so do not tempt him. 

barney has always defended our family courageously. too courageously, at times. so please keep him safe and make sure he feels secure in his surroundings. and whatever you do, do not sing songs from the sound of music in too high of a pitch or else he will howl at you in confusion. 

barney loves bath time. don't forget the conditioner. he likes to have his hair trimmed and his ears cleaned and he will sit patiently as long as you need him to, so long as you tell him how handsome he is looking and my what a beautiful boy you are

never leave an open bag of dog food sitting around, he will eat the entire contents in one go and have to be rolled outside to potty. 

please appreciate the way the top of his head smells like grape jelly, and how nicely it complements the corn chip smell of his paws. he is like a little snack. 

don't get too friendly with his belly during belly rubs. he doesn't it when fingers get caught in his chest hairs. he will growl but he will not bite, but respect him please. he is a scottie, after all.

oh, i hope that you love him like we love him. but also i hope that you will love him even more. he is such a sweet, soulful old lover, with so much loyalty to give. he deserves the very, very best. 

leaving him today was the hardest thing i've ever done. before we left we scooped him up into our arms, kissed him all over, and took one last deep breath of his grape jelly head. he smelled soft and sweet from his bath last night. he smelled like home. as we drove away we stole one last glance at him, self-inflicted torture i suppose. it felt monumental and awful, like saying goodbye to our idaho, like saying goodbye to ourselves, but barney was too busy sniffing bruce's pant leg and inspecting the tires on their truck and watching a buzzing bumblebee flying over the flowers to notice his heartbroken old owners slowly driving away. we cried for miles. we'll cry for miles more yet.

we will raise henry to know all about his big brother barney, about what it means to care for a dog, and about how important it is to sacrifice for the ones we love. in a way, barnaby macduff will always be around. he will always be a part of our family.

my only request is that, sometimes, you'll take him off-leash in some big, grassy field, and let him chase those dastardly squirrels, his one sworn enemy, around and around and around until he collapses in an exhausted crumple of blissed-out bones and fur. and then, please pet him and stroke him, and pat him on his sweet grape jelly head, and tug on his long black beard and say, "you're good old boy, barneykins."

because he is.

he really, truly is.

love, 
natalie

59 comments :

  1. i cannot imagine how hard it would be to have to let go of your best friend.

    your words are beautiful and hilarious and sad. thank you for sharing. i wish the best to you and yours on this new chapter without barnaby.

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  2. :( What a fun dog!

    Hope he sends you letters. :)

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  3. There is no chance I could ever do that. Seriously strong you two were. It may have been the right thing for your circumstances but this will make my wife cry why she reads it. You still have one left right?? or did I miss a post, which is entirely though weirdly possible.

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  4. This made me cry and cry...beautifully sad and bittersweet. You did the right thing and the right thing is oh so hard sometimes.

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  5. *HUGS* barney is lucky to have so much love in his life, from all sorts of angles. being a parent is making the hard decisions. you did good, natalie. you did good.

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  6. truth... this is making me cry.

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  7. This letter has me in a big blubbering ball of mess. You're a really good egg, Natalie. I hope you, Brandon, and that cute kid of yours enjoy the July 4th weekend, and find comfort knowing you've made the best decision for ALL of you. xo

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  8. What a tender, beautiful, letter! You are so incredibly talented at expressing yourself- I've got a lump in my throat and tears coming down my face. And I'm not even a pet person (although i'm sure i would LOVE Sir Barnaby McGillicutty). Yes, I'm a big boob and yes, I have always sucked at goodbyes. But this letter just makes my heart swell with emotion, for you, for Brandon, for Huckleberry, for Barney. And the lessons you're drawing from it...WOW. You're one remarkable gal!

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  9. rachel from austJuly 02, 2011

    beautiful words natalie, i hope you gave some form of this letter to his foster mum and dad im sure it will help for a smoother transition. Stay strong x

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  10. Oh, I'm so sorry Natalie. Barney will be better than fine, but your heart might take a while to heal. Those darn pets! They make us love them. Hang in there my dear. And tell the Holbs to hang in there too. It'll get better.

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  11. oh my! I'm so sorry, that is sad, and I can't even imagine giving away our boston terrier, even though she is a terror at times and I want to throw her out the kitchen window (don't worry, I would never do that) I still love her to pieces, we've had her since she was 8 or 9 weeks old....
    I'm sorry for your loss, but it will be for the best and barney will be happy, they adapt well!
    Best wishes that you feel better about your descion soon!

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  12. Oh this breaks my heart. But after reading the previous entry you had about this, and the emotional struggle, you did the right thing for your family & Barnaby. The pain fades and you will all heal. It just feels really, really bad right now. :-(

    It'll be okay. Really.

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  13. This made me cry as well! So sweet!

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  14. =(
    Sending thoughts and prayers your way.

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  15. beautiful. you are all amazing and strong. he will always love you and remember that adorable chubby boy of yours. much love and hugs for all.

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  16. Tears are running down my face as I empathize the feelings that you and your family are having today. Having gone through the same situation, I can tell you that as bad as you are feeling right now, the knowledge that you have made a choice for the better will prevail and get you through this.

    You, are an excellent writer. I was clinging to every word and feeling every emotion as I read this letter. I hope you did send it to the owners so that the can grasp how truly special this dog and his former owners are.

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  17. AnonymousJuly 03, 2011

    Why on earth are you giving him away? Sorry but I could never do that, regardless of the circumstances...

    I hope he has a happy life with his new family. I also hope they keep him and not pass him off to another family.

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  18. I'm so sorry. What a heartbreaking thing to have to do. Please don't let the anonymous commenters torment you; you did the right thing for everyone. There was no way to foresee this when you brought Barnaby home as a puppy.

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  19. You guys are so brave. I'll be thinking of you this weekend, you must be feeling rough.
    xxxx

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  20. Dear anonymous commenters: Your time to criticise was before, when the decision was being made; to give advice and to argue your point. Now that the decision HAS been made and cannot be reversed, what point do your mean comments make except to purposefully hurt the author.

    Do you have no conscience, are you and your lives so perfect that you feel you are in a position to judge others. You never know what is around the corner in life; things happen that mean you have to adjust your circumstances.

    Natalie passed on her beloved dog to a proper family that will love & care for him, she didn't toss him in the river or dump him at the Humane Society.

    If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    Thank you

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  21. What a hard, hard decision this must have been! So proud of you! This was so touching, and you will get through this!

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  22. i'm so sorry natalie. and i completely support you deleting anonymous comments. if you can't post your name with a mean comment, you're a coward who should be deleted. hugs to you and yours :(

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  23. "People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened."

    Sorry you went through that! I hope Peter Pan gets to stay, but it's for you and your hubs to decide. I just love the pictures of you holding Peter Pan like a baby; it makes me feel like he was your puppy soulmate during the time you waited for Henry.

    Try to feel better, you can be happy in knowing that Barney will be happy.

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  24. oh, the lump in my throat. here's to hoping that swallowing around yours eventually gets easier.

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  25. This is so sad. My husband and I have had to make the same decision before. It's definitely not easy and you never quite get over it. You always hope that you made the right decision, not only for yourself, but also for your dog baby. All the best xxx

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  26. Sniff! Such a beautiful, heartfelt letter. It most certainly brought tears to my eyes. I'm sorry you guys are going through the pain of it all...sending positive vibes and thoughts your way!

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  27. Oh! So sad! I understand your heartbreak. I had to adopt out a two year old Schnauzer after my daughter was born. He was no longer the baby and became very jealous of that. You have to do, sometimes, what you have to do...♥

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  28. AnonymousJuly 03, 2011

    Nat...this is the anonymous commenter that commented about the 'boobs' post. Not all anonymous commenters are cowards. They may not have a Google account, Colleen. Anyway, stick with your gut, not your heart, Nat. Time will heal all wounds. Do not second guess your decision. No matter what the naysayers write, it was your choice to find Barney a new 'crib.' Although painful, you and your husband have your reasons for doing what you did. Be strong, united, and confident in your decision. Don't make excuses for your reasons. If you love something set it free..to run and play in open grassy back yards. 5 years from now Henry will be ready for kindergarten, you will probably have a #2(or one on the way), Brandon will be comfy in his job, and you'll be living in a 900sq ft apartment that has 2 bed rooms and space to decorate.:) Barney will be grey, fat, and will have made friends with the local cat, and chased away all the squirrels. He'll be grateful his birth parents gave him such a wonderful life. It will all work out. Time is on your side. Thanks for writing again!:)

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  29. What a wonderful tribute to Barnaby. You have a huge heart and a huge talent. Be well and at peace with your decision. I know you made it with all the possible soul searching there is in the world. Barnaby will be fine. And so will you. Hugs to you and your family. I don't know you, but feel like I do. A real testament to your writing.

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  30. Oh the tears are flowing. What a hard thing to do. Our first born furry little girl, Maddy, accidently stepped on our 5 month old yesterday. She, the not furry little girl, cried and cried and the thought or having to give away Maddy raced threw my mind. It was just an accident and luckily we can avoid future accidents by picking small children while Maddy goes nuts about going on a walk. My heart goes out to you.

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  31. That is one of my favorite pics of him. Reminds me of Fizzgig from the Dark Crystal.

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  32. I know this was a difficult decision for you and I know you will miss him! Wish I had more profound things to say.

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  33. I know how difficult this must have been, but I also know the decision was made to keep your son safe. What a testament to your love for both of them that you found the best solution possible.

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  34. ahh, this makes me so sad for you guys. i just know how much you love him. i don't know if i could ever love a dog that much, but i've seen dog-loss grief and it has been some of the saddest i've ever, ever seen. i'm really sorry you had to let him go.

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  35. I'm sorry you have to go through this :( I know how it feels, I had to leave my furbaby in England when we moved back to Canada. I still can't look at pictures of him....but it gets better! I know it doesn't seem like it will but I get emails about all the fun he has and I know we did the right thing :) *hugs*

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  36. I'm sorry you had to say goodbye! Hopefully there are more sniffs, squirrels and people for Barney to meet on the island! Saying good bye to a doggy is hard but you'll get through it! We all do!

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  37. Only when you love something that much is the pain that great....better to have loved and lost right?
    My best to you, there is no way you made this decision easily.

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  38. I'm crying so hard. It will get easier. You made the ultimate sacrifice for your baby, you did the right thing. Sending love!

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  39. when i moved to europe, the conditions of my grant were that i bring no person (or animal) with me. i wanted to find someone to foster my dog for a few years but everyone told me that it was too cruel to have her adjust to a new home, only to be taken away again upon my arrival. my sister found a new *permanent* home for her and i was so sad i cried for days. i still can't even really talk about too much without feeling sick. that said, i know how you feel and it's horrible.

    so - if i were you, i would just go stare at huck and squeeze/kiss his cheeks. i can't imagine feeling any kind of pain in the world with such a perfect little human in your midst. ;)

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  40. AlexandraJuly 04, 2011

    I cannot feel sorry for you; I feel sorry for the animal.

    I must say, all your talk about how you didn't have a "crystal ball" back when you got a dog isn't quite convincing.
    My man and I do know that our life may take turns in the future that will make it difficult to own a dog and provide for him in an appropriate way (keeping animals in a shoebox in Manhattan I consider selfish and bordering abuse) - so we are not getting one. Easy, right?
    (also: you don't need a crystal ball to predict that an animal will indeed go neurotic in that tiny of a space, new baby and all)

    As far as I can tell your priority was always having children; this whole scenario does have the unpleasant taste of the dog just having served his purpose now that you have a baby.
    I hope for Barney that his new family doesn't pass him off once he doesn't fit their lifestyle anymore.

    For my part, your blog was fun for a little while (maybe a month?), but you do come across as so annoyingly immature - on so many levels - that I am no longer interested in reading.

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  41. Nat. I love this post. You are an incredible person. I read this and I see how much you love Barney. It takes a lot of strength and love to do what you and B did. My family and I have been going back and forth trying to decide what to do with our pup, and seeing this post gives me a little bit of strength.

    I sure hope that you don't disable the anonymous comments, because that is all that will allow me to post. I hate that some people hide behind their anonymity and say hurtful things to people. You did what was right for your family and what was right for Barney. Period. There is nothing more to it! That is where your priority is.

    Thank you for sharing this difficult decision with us. I hope that I can someday have the same strength that you have.

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  42. Oh! I just cried like a fool! I've never met your beautiful Barnaby McDuff - but I miss him so!!

    For years my family did Boxer rescue and it absolutely tore me apart to hand over a dog we had fostered for weeks, even months to their new family. It's bittersweet - but oh so tough.

    We'll be keeping the Holbrooks in our prayers to make this transition a bit easier for you, but to hold him in your hearts forever.

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  43. ....crying. Is it bad that I feel like a very similar letter could be written to my now-ex boyfriend? sad day.

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  44. That must have been so hard. I think that Barney will love his new home and it will be much easier for you. And don't listen to the negativity. People always have the best advice when it's not them in the situation.

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  45. Oh Alexandra, I do so look up to you. You obviously have it all together, always make the right decision, and have such control over your life that no unexpected changes ever force you to adjust. Not to mention your uncanny ability to read other people's minds and hearts and know their true motivations--even when you have never met them! Thank heavens you are here to let us all know how horrible we are in comparison to your unstoppable awesomeness.

    And Natalie, how dare you make a heart-rending decision that will give Barnaby a happier life! For shame.

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  46. I am so sorry you had to say goodbye. Sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do. Whenever you get sad, just picture Barney romping in a field of squirrels. I'm sure he is enjoying his new space.

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  47. Ugh, I'm crying enormously fat tears at this one. I am so sorry for you all... It's an awful thing to say goodbye to a dog, whatever the circumstances.

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  48. Dear Natalie, I have been reading your blog since that article in Salon, and I also went back to read about your years in Idaho. Usually I can't comment because my computer at work won't allow it. Today, I had to find a way. I am so sad for what you and Brandon have gone through in reaching this heart-wrenching decision. What got my tears flowing was the mental image of Barnaby sleeping with his head on Brandon's shoulder every night. Barnaby will be fine. It's you and particularly your husband I feel for. My husband and I have two spoiled cats, and as it always seems to go with pets, one of them is more 'mine' and the other 'his' even though of course we each love them both. So I think I understand a bit of what you are experiencing. May the many good wishes, of friends and people you don't even know, help you find comfort and healing. It is a brave, thoughtful and very difficult thing you have done for Barnaby and for your family. Thank you for the joy and yes, the tears you bring us with your writing. Peace and love to you.

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  49. Sending HUGS to you - what a hard decision but a RIGHT decision. That Barney man will do great. Now I have to go and finish my cry.

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  50. ((hugs)) for you and Brandon. I bet Barnaby is getting lots of love from his new family and is just fine. These things seem to be much harder on us humans...

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  51. Heartbreaking and beautiful. You are good doggy parents and I'm sure Barney absolutely agrees!

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  52. If you guys weren't the best parents you'd have never even considered this option. The best choice is never the easy choice. I'm so sorry for you all but so happy for Barney in his awesome new family. His new dads name is Bruce...any man named Bruce you know will be good fun!!!

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  53. Sigh. I'm going to miss you, Barney. :-(

    Now that he is gone, I'll tell you: he was my favorite. But don't tell The Pan, please.

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  54. wow, this almost had me crying too. I'm going to go snuggle my puppy as soon as I get home.

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  55. That Alexandra girl must certainly have a heart of gold.

    Not.

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  56. You didn't "adopt" the dog from the pet store. You bought him, thus contributing to puppy mill abuses and creating more demand for the "product." And, in keeping with that mindset, you are still treating the pup like a product that's worn out its welcome. May your precious baby not treat you the same way when you're old and gray.

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