This is a story about a dog.

Early on, when we first got him. He was so shy.

Early on, when we first got him. He was so shy.

This dog was potentially the best dog in the whole world. He would fetch. He loved walks, and had a weird obsession about balls. He would dance with you. He learned all the basic tricks, like sit, stay, lie down, roll over. He would lick your face and insist on cuddle time, regardless of what you were doing at that particular moment. He was constantly happy, and was an absolute joy to have as a part of my family.

On the way to the groomers!

On the way to the groomers!

His life didn’t start that way. I don’t know much about his parents, but I believe they were most likely a mix between poodle and schnauzer/cocker spaniel. A woman stopped my boyfriend’s mother while on a walk with her dog and begged her to take this dog. She was going through a divorce, and needed to find her dog a home before she moves out. We went to visit the dog, and immediately I fell in love. He was covered in mats and was obviously malnourished, but he was so excited to see us I wanted to take him right then.

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Just hanging out, no big deal.

The reason why I don’t know much about him is because after we took Barry from her, we never heard from her again. Her phone number was disconnected, and she didn’t even give me her correct name, so I had to wait three months before I could find records about him. We couldn’t understand why, until we gave him his shots after seeing that he didn’t have his rabies yet. He became incredibly sick. He was weak, could barely walk or eat, and we found blood in his stool.

Our vet found, after some testing, that he had thrombocytopenia, a genetic, auto immune blood disorder. Suddenly, it became clear why this woman was giving this dog for free. I spent the next couple of months in constant anger, trying to find her, and finally accepting that the only thing that matters now is giving Barry the best life we can. We were given three choices: do nothing, and he will succumb to his illness within the year. Steroid treatments in the short-term, and a stronger drug (azathioprine) for the long term, maybe another 2 or 3 years. Regular blood transfusions, thousands of dollars each, giving him maybe 5 years. I was devastated to find that there was no cure. We decided early on that we wouldn’t be able to afford blood transfusions, and that attempting steroids first would be a good start. He recovered very well, but he would be susceptible to infections. Abscesses formed in his mouth, small cuts wouldn’t heal. Suddenly, having a clean environment became a top priority for me, as well as making sure the products that my community pet salons, hospitals, and adoption centers are also using products that are truly healthy for our pets.

By then, this dog had become part of our small and loving family, myself and my boyfriend, along with his three dog-loving children. This dog was waiting for us to come home every night after work, escorted the 8-year-old girl to her room to “scare the monsters away” while she got ready for bed. He was a fetch buddy when you just needed to throw a ball and think about life. He would get you off your lazy butt and take him for a walk around the block. He was my alarm clock, my car-buddy, my reminder to smile.

He was the best dog in the world. And I miss him every day.

On September 17th, 2014, Barry died after four days of fatigue and internal bleeding from his disease. The steroids made him susceptible to infection, which created two abscesses in his mouth that never fully healed. We were hesitant to put him back on the steroids, and seemed healthy for a few months, until his last days of fatigue and bleeding, then death. I feel guilt and regret every day for not continuing his steroid treatment, but I didn’t believe that he would survive another infection.

We decided to give him he best thing we could: a healthy environment to prevent infections and toxins from harming him. We focused all of our energy in providing a clean, infection-free environment for him, so early on we started shopping online for our household goods, including laundry, floor/bathroom/glass cleaner, as well as pet shampoo, and looked for products that were all-natural, ph-balanced, and safe for pets. We threw out all of our retail-brand, toxic products, and switched the entire house to all-natural. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly switch my community to it. My local pet salons use specialized kennel cleaners that are not toxin-free, and some smaller businesses admitted to using bleach. The second time he became very ill, I had taken him to a pet salon where he was allergic to the kennel or the floor cleaner, his paws were raw from the toxins after only a few hours. Every one and their pets are entitled to have an all-natural, clean environment for their homes and the pet salons, hospital, hotels and adoption centers of Southern California, the US, and the world.

That’s where I stand. I want a world that has pet shampoos and conditioners, household, industrial, and laundry cleaners that use naturally-derived ingredients, are toxin, artificial color and fragrance, and triclosan-free, ph-balanced, and are concentrated and phosphate free for our planet. I also want to know where my money is going to when I buy that kind of product. I want a world where pet owners can have access to the right information about the products their using, and where to find the right ones. I want to find alternatives to love our pets the way nature intended, and have the right tools to give them the happiest and healthiest lives possible. Because they deserve it.

Barry was my world. He might be gone, but I can promise him that I will find the resources to fully love and care for the next dog I invite into my world. I’d love to share that knowledge with any other pet lover that comes across my way.

You can find more photos of Barry here: http://imgur.com/a/FFDyE

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