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day, our son called to ask a favor. Could we provide a temporary home for
Barkleah? He had the opportunity to work for the United States State
Department. The assignment would be for twelve months in Romania. Of
course, we said yes.
first evening we assumed custody of Mr. Barkleah, we carefully followed
instructions for bed time. Placing him in his crate, we gave him a treat, and
covered the crate with a blanket. He was to happily fall asleep with no
protest. Wrong! He instinctively knew he had landed in the home of
settled into bed and turned off the lights. Immediately, he began to wine, a soft,
I questioned, “Does he sound cold to you, Bill.”
He sounds fine. Now get some sleep.”
is shivering. Perhaps, our bedroom is chilly for him.”
he is a con artist. Forget it. Good night, Honey.”
whimpers turned to full out crying. From the sounds coming from under the
blanket, it was clear he stood up-right, trying to open the crate door.
He’s freezing. Can’t we warm him up in the bed with us?”
“NO. Once he gets into our bed, we
will never get him back into the crate.”
Bill was right. Once he placed
Barkleah into our bed, he nosed under the sheets, and permanently claimed his portion
of our bed.
Barkleah also taught us a new
game. We call it “Show me.” He surfs the floors searching for dropped pencils,
scraps of paper that missed the trash, and credit card receipts that blow off
the desk. Once he has a treasure, he moves in for the deal. Hopping like a
rabbit, he locates one of us, shakes his head to show us the treasure in his
mouth, and then runs under the bed. He wins the game when we crawl on all fours
with a treat calling, “Trade.” The score is Barkleah - 1,000. Pam - zero.
Upon his return from Romania, our
son discovered we had bonded with Barkleah and faced separation anxiety. How
would we survive when Barkleah moved back to our son’s home? Like any reasonable adults, we established
joint custody. We agreed to weekends with his Daddy, and the week days with his
Nana and Papa.
Although Barkleah loved the arrangement,
over time, we agreed to have Barklean with us full time. When travel calls,
book signings, conferences, and lack of pet friendly hotels, Barkleah is cared
for by his daddy. And as many of you know, our son also has Gracie, the African
Gray Parrot. Bill and I are trained and ready to Gracie sit at any time. We are
parrot friendly, with a six foot tall bird cage in our living room, and a five
foot high perch for her comfort.
Yes. Barkleah may be spoiled, but so are Wendy, Bailey, Carlos, and Gracie.
Our lives are full of laughter, as
we care for our pets.
Do you have a funny story to
share? Please leave a comment and I will make sure it is shared with my
All our adult years, Bill and I had medium to large dogs as pets. In fact, my knowledge of small dogs was a bit lacking You might even say, I had many preconceived ideas about those tiny little pets. My world changed in 2006 when my son announced that he had purchased a Toy Fox Terrier.
I spent a few days imagining this 6 foot 4 inch man caring for a 2 pound baby. His hands were large enough to close around little Barkleah and make him disappear. Convinced that all little doggies were spoiled, difficult to care for, and too small to play with, I adopted a wait- and-see attitude.
The first time we met Barkleah, his ears flopped on either side of his head, his coal black eyes stared at us in fear, and his little body shook. It was a cold winter day and he wore a tiny blue sweater to protect him from the elements. He snuggled into my son's arms and crawled into a small flannel cuddle sack. Yep. He must be spoiled already.
During one of my doggie-sitting afternoons, I discovered that Barkleah loved to race around the kitchen trying to see if he could keep from being stepped on. Noting he was a drama-king, I worked hard to protect him. When a foot came too close, he screamed as if killed. In order to keep him alive, I no longer wore shoes. At least my bare foot gave me the ability to sense his presence, and look down before moving.
If he was awake, he was continually playing with his squeaky toys. It amazed me at how well he could entertain himself. When he required rest, he insisted on a human lap inside his cuddle sack. If it was really cold, he crawled inside your sweater and nestled on your chest. Yep. I was getting the idea. Mr. Barkleah would rule our lives.
Barkleah was crate trained. To this day, he goes to the closet every morning to make sure his crate is there. When there's thunder, lightening', or other forces of bad weather, he races to his crate. When he had surgery, he placed himself in the crate and did not venture out until he healed.
It was amusing to see him interact with our black lab, Bailey. Bailey was a beta dog. Easily the sweetest, non aggressive pet in the neighborhood. She imparted knowledge to Barkleah. He soon learned to jump out the dog door. Problem was, his size. The door was installed for an 85 pound lab. He nosed the door opened and jumped out, scraping his tummy on the frame and landing ten inches below. Ouch! He worked on his technique and eventually mastered this Evil Knievel..
Bailey taught Barkleah how to protect the family from intruders. Bailey took the lead, but Barkleah was the lookout. He could hear the UPS man sneak onto the porch, the neighbors walking their dogs half a block away, and the Schwan's truck pulling up across the street. The awesome dodo kept us safe.
Naturally, Bill and I fell hard for this sweet mischievous clown. Are you one of those special people who have had their heart stolen by a little doggie? Please share your stories. We all love to hear about pets.
My next post, I will share how Barkleah came to stay for a visit and never left again.
Who Knew Toy Fox Terriers and African Gray Parrots Could Be Friends?
On Gracie's initial visits, we guarded her diligently. Barkleah spent every waking moment shadowing her. He perched on the back of the sofa as his coal black eyes glared intently. When she attempted flight, often misjudging her landing, she sought refuge on our wooden mini blinds. His first instinct was to jump off the couch, race to the window, and stare up as if he might catch her when she fell.
Our instincts caused us to panic. She was so fragile, so young, and a novice at flying. Often we all ran to the window at once. Our son Jeff took the lead. He shouted, "Barkleah, no." Then he offered the back of his hand and invited Gracie to "Step up, baby." Relieved to be rescued from the blinds, Gracie obliged Jeff and he returned her to her cage or perch.
In the mean time, Bill and I were chasing Barkleah around the room, attempting to pick him up, and move him from the area. He, of course, loved this game and allowed us to chase him from room to room with a smile on his face.
We had no idea if Barkleah would chase Gracie, but that was his normal action when seeing a bird in our back yard. We could take no chances with little Gracie's life.
Gracie, fascinated by this ten pound Toy Fox Terrier, first words were "Barkleah, doggie. Grrr. Arf. Arf. Arf." She also realized that Barkleah loved to eat. Gracie quickly learned to push her food off onto the floor when she was full. She alerted him with her special signal, by calling out, "Don't dump your food bowl." Then she would shoved the bowl off her cage and onto the floor. Her next comment was , "Gracie is a stinker.".
Barkleah appears to love bird food. he has gained two pounds since Gracie joined the family. It appears that Gracie likes her role as diet breaker. These two have run us ragged. Do you think they are communicating with mentally? l