Barley by Raymond Matyckas / Ray

In the Summer of 1992 I was a 29 year old hell raiser, the type of person that people would go to the other side of the street
rather than cross paths with.

It was during one of these Summer days I was doing my usual thing hanging out with my biker friends in my garage drinking beer when the girl I was seeing at the time brought over a Cocker Spaniel puppy. that was white as snow. She just found him in a litter of puppies at a garage sale and didn’t even name him yet. When she was reaching for a can of beer she saw that one of the ingredients was Barley malt. So the little puppy was given the name of Barley.

She brought Barley over often which I didn’t mind, he was free entertainment he would go after anything from tennisballs up to basketballs. The condition was as long as she took Barley home when she left. I had no need for a dog. Besides I think I would have done better with a rabid wolf during during those days.

1994 The girl I was seeing was no longer able to keep Barley due to her living conditions. I reluctantly took in Barley on a “temporary” basis until she was able to get back on her feet. The first day of “having responsibility” Barley thought it would be a great idea to play “catch me” and bolt right into the woods. So here I am chasing him cursing to myself knowing I can’t even take care of myself let alone a living creature. When he finally tired he came to me sat down and looked at me with his wide brown eyes, So I picked him up and carried him home while he was licking my face. “Well its only temporary” I thought.

I was learning that Barley had very sensitive feelings, But he was also very intelligent. To train him to do something was very easy. He was always happy go lucky (My opposite at the time). He just always loved to run and play. Well I thought it was cool to have such a happy little fella around. It was only temporary.

As the years started going by Barley started becoming my child. He looked up to me as a protector and to give him guidance never leaving my side. I looked to him to give me sanity showing me that there are beautiful things in this world. I to not leaving his side.

January 1997 after all the years of partying hard the hammer finally fell. I have hit a serious emotional bottom. I was alone all my friends have left me except Barley. Barley showed me how to smile and laugh with his goofy antics and when I just want to sit quietly he sat by my side. I would have never made it through those times without him and for that I always have been grateful.

In time things started getting better. I found a god of my understanding and the insanity was leaving. The years started going by faster an during this Barley was getting older. While Barley was still running and playing he was getting slower and needed to rest often.

May of 2002 Barley went in for “routine” surgery to have a couple tumors removed. He had almost died from an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. He wound up in the animal hospital for several days. I was near a breakdown thinking that Barley help me during my times of need and here I am killing him during his. By the Grace of God Barley recovered. But after the hospital stay he would never run again.

Barley has reached his “Golden years” He was content playing with a squeaky toy, sitting on the front porch watching birds, or just sitting next to me. He enjoyed the occasional visit of my nieces. When he heard their voices he would rush up the stairs all excited to greet them. Barley considered them his playmates. It was interesting to watch them all sitting on the floor. My nieces would be playing with dolls and Barley would be playing with his favorite toy with them. I really believe Barley had the mentality of a child and thought of himself as one.

During the last year of his life, Barley was starting to get disoriented. He would wonder into the garage and get lost. I would have to bring him in comfort him. I was starting to realize Barley’s life has reached full circle and and he will be called home soon. So I did my best to mentally prepare myself and give him as much comfort and love as possible. A couple days prior to his passing, Barley attempted to jump on my bed and failed. I picked him up place him on the bed and I held him. I can tell he wasdisappointed that he couldn’t jump on the bed and in his eyes I noticed he was tired.

Jan 24, 2006 started as just an ordinary day. I went to work. I rarely go home for lunch but this day I did. My routine when I get home is to open the front door a crack and give Barley a tap to wake him up so he would move so I can get into the house. This time when I tapped him he couldn’t move. So I had to get in through the garage. Barley had a stroke and was paralyzed and wasn’t able to move. I carried him down stairs to my room and layed him down on a bunch of towels and called the rest of the day off from work. I was debating on bringing him to the vet, But I don’t think he would have made the trip. So I held him and praised him until he was called. At that moment I discovered it is impossible “to mentally prepare yourself” I felt like a part of me inside has just died. I buried Barley in his woods that day. And wasn’t able to go to work for a couple of days.

I was an emotional wreck for months constantly crying on his grave. I was able to accept Barley has “completed his circle” But the sadness was overwhelming. I had never felt such sadness and loss for anything or anyone before. My whole world stopped. In time I started to realize taking Barley in was only temporary, Barley was only on loan from God. Barley was one of God’s furry angels sent here to change my life and he did. Barley showed me a love that was so pure that it came from God.

Because of this gift, I had to give back. I rescued a ten year old Cocker named Dillon. Dillon lead a life of abuse and neglect and never knew how it feels to be loved, he deserved the same love Barley received.

In the morning I would take Dillon out to romp in the same woods Barley played in. While Dillon is exploring. I would visit Barley’s grave and say a prayer of gratitude to God for lending me Barley because he is responsible for who I am today.

Yes I still miss him dearly but it’s only temporary for when I have reached my “circle” I know I will chasing him through the woods again and instead of cursing it will be with shouts of joy.


Miss You My Friend,
Raymond Matyckas