On Monday, 13th November, my only child turned 7.
So, I thought it was a good opportunity to get him on the blog and have a little chat about him. He is, after all, the centre of my world.
Now, I know that many of you will be able to identify with the fact that this dog is my baby! I call him my only child and honestly, he is just the best companion. I work at home alone a lot and if it weren’t for him, truly, I think I’d be quite lonely at times. He’s not great at editing photos or packaging orders, but he’s a fab listener.
He’s like my little shadow and is (perhaps slightly unhealthily) attached to my hip at every possible opportunity.
Growing up, we always had Labradors, and my grandparents had Labs and German Shepherds. So I had always thought of myself as a ‘big dog’ person. But when Sam and I moved into our first house, which barely allowed two people to pass comfortably in the living room, we knew a big dog wasn’t an option.
However, I’d warned Sam that the only way he’d convince me to move out of my family home (I mean, you’ve seen it! It wasn’t easy to leave) would be to get me a dog. I could not imagine living in a house without a dog and I was putting my foot down on that.
He agreed. (He didn’t take much persuading) We moved out. And a week later, Barney arrived!
We chose to go for a Cocker Spaniel because I felt it was the perfect happy medium, between the ‘proper dogs’ that I’d always loved and a smaller dog that wouldn’t struggle to turn around in our new bijoux home. And we went for a show Cocker because I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to commit to the amount of exercise a working Cocker would need, having read various reports that said they’d need to be walked around 23 hours a day to tire them out.
And what sold us on barney in particular? His Mum’s litter were all named after US presidents, so she was Callie, short for ‘Callaghan’ (I can’t remember the prefix.) And Barney’s Kennel Club name is ‘Callaghan’s Boy’. I mean, I know it’s a different spelling, but what are the chances?! We couldn’t not bring him home with us.
And little did we know what characters this breed were.
Barney is the most complex, loving, high maintenance, funny little dog I’ve ever met.
Firstly, he is the cuddliest dog in the world. Honestly, he just wants to be with you all of the time. He’s my shadow and just the best companion. I’ve known a lot of dogs in my life and I’ve never met one that you can cuddle quite like Barney.
When we first got him, we were typical new dog owners. He would only be allowed on the sofa when we say so and he would definitely never be allowed on the bed. He just laughed and wrapped us tighter around his little finger.
Now he sleeps (mostly) on the bed and the sofa is his throne. And I wouldn’t change it. Those cuddles with him, first thing in the morning, when you’re half asleep and know you need to get up and get on with the day, they’re one of life’s greatest pleasures. (Except when stands on my hair/boob/arm/face, which really hurts) He loves to lie-in with you. Some days I have to physically get him out of bed.
He also smells amazing. I sound like a legit crazy dog lady now, but I wish I could show you how good he smells. Sometimes I just bury my nose in his neck and sniff. And I’m pretty sure it provides instant endorphins!
What else can I tell you about him? He loves his toys and takes really good care of them. He still has the toys he had the first day we brought him home and he’s so gentle with them. I can totally see why Spaniels are used as working dogs, using their toys as a reward, because this dog would do backflips for a ball or a ‘duck’, over food, any day. And yes, his toys called ‘ducks’. His first ever toy was a blue cuddly duck, so ‘fetch your duck’ very quickly became code for ‘fetch any toy you can find’.
However, there is another, very quirky side to Barney, too.
Unfortunately, he’s a very anxious dog. And apparently it’s something that’s quite common in Spaniels. (Now they tell me!)
If someone arrives at the house, this is stressful. If someone is leaving, this is stressful. (And he will growl if someone says goodbye to him) If I’m putting makeup on, stressful. If the neighbours are in the garden. If a car beeps it’s horn. If there are children around. If I give him a black biscuit instead of a white one. If we see another dog on our walk. If we give him a bone that’s too big… You get the idea. Life. Is. Stressful!
His separation anxiety is incredibly hard to deal with at times. The noise he makes when I leave the house… Honestly, I have to convince passers by that I’m not torturing a small child and that it is, in fact, just my dog having a minor meltdown about the prospect of surviving on his own for a couple of hours.
My mother-in-law says that Barney is lucky to have found us, because a lot of other people might have passed him on. Because truly he has been difficult to deal with at times. His growling was a big problem for a while. The stupidest thing, like the sentence ‘Is that nice?’ would make him growl. And I still have no idea why.
But we’ve come to realise that he growls, barks or cries when he’s in a situation that either scares or confuses him. So we avoid making him feel scared or confused and we manage him the best way we know how. And that works for us. He’s at his most content when it’s just me, him and Sam, at home, lazing on the sofa, after a nice long walk. Or when he’s at my Mum’s house, helping my Dad (his favourite person in the world) mow his lawn and do jobs around the garden.
90% of the time, he’s the sweetest, funniest, most loving, loyal dog. But he’s also impossibly quirky and complex.
But regardless, I wouldn’t have him any other way. He’s my scruffy, high maintenance, clingy, loveable little puppy and my best friend.
Happy Birthday Barney! Can you please not get any older?