A Sad Farewell...

December 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Gentle, loving, faithful, devoted, happy, loyal, friendly, good natured, kindhearted, joyful, handsome and occasionally whiny and once in a while, just a little naughty... these are all words to describe our fawn pug, Barnum.  We lost our Barnum yesterday following emergency surgery to remove his spleen for what was suspected to be cancer.  They removed the spleen and two tumors but sadly Barnum died from complications the following day.  We have lost our best friend of many years... but not nearly enough years.


Barnum was 13 years old and as he aged he became blind and deaf but that never dampened his spirit or caused him to draw away.  He was still able to navigate the house and garden as well as go up and down the steps; however, he was unable to jump on or off the bed.  When he was a puppy we laughed because we jokingly said he was a cross between a pug and a  bull mastiff as his legs seemed inordinately long... like a pug on stilts, but eventually, he grew into them.  With age, his jowls became more pronounced and he would shed enough hair to knit a sweater.  How can you not fall in love with a dog as gentle and loving as he was?  And he always seemed to be having a "good tail day"!

Barnum having another "good tail day"!


When Barnum was a baby, we asked the vet what kind of toy he might like.  She advised us to get a stuffed toy that was bigger than he was so we went out and bought a stuffed floppy fawn dog just about the same color as he was.  We named her Mama Dog and he would carry her around, shake her and at night curl up with his head on top of her.  He continued to cuddle with Mama Dog his entire life.     


Barnum welcomed Ms. Bailey Bentwhiskers, a little black pug (daughter of Pistol Pete!), into the house as a companion.  She was a feisty little pug and Barnum soon found out that girls rule, but he was OK with that.  Yes, it was the "Barnum and Bailey Circus" in our house!  They would have such fun and then would curl up together and fall asleep.  Ms. Bailey kept everyone safe as she would lay on the top of the couch and do homeland security.  Her bark was a bit arresting for such a little dog!  She was definitely a pug with attitude!  She also taught Barnum how to pull on the end of the toilet paper and unroll a nice long piece of it and he was quite proud of his accomplishment!  Though he was a very smart dog, he would have never thought to do that himself!  Ms. Bailey was definitely an instigator!

Barnum and Ms. Bailey Bentwhiskers on Valentine's Day


We took them to dog obedience classes.  Barnum caught on quickly.  Ms. Bailey... not so much.  Barnum not only knew his commands but he could also jump through a hoop, and I had great hopes that he might be a therapy dog.  We did a trial run at Baylor Hospital in Dallas.  He was doing well as the wheelchairs whizzed by and people walked past with crutches but his downfall came when I had to take his leash off and leave the room.  There was silence as all the dogs were in the down position and then from out in the hall, I could hear the tinkling of his "medals'" on his collar.  I peeked in, and there was Barnum, ever so slowly, crawling towards the door on his belly.  And no... he was not chosen to be a therapy dog, and on the way home in the car, he had a seizure.  Perhaps too much stress, and we never tried that again.  He did have a seizure disorder as a puppy which he fortunately outgrew with age.


We lost Ms. Bailey unexpectedly when she was having her nails clipped at the vet.  She had a cardiac arrest and was not able to be revived.  She was only 7 years old and I was devastated.  I cannot remember ever crying as much as after I lost her.  It was as though my world came crashing in. 


A couple months later I decided to look for another little black pug and found Mollie Sue at DFW Pug Rescue.  She was a wee bit of a thing... had been kept in a cage for 2 years and was used for breeding at a puppy mill in Oklahoma when she was rescued.  We took Barnum with us as we knew that he would have to approve of his new companion.  Immediately, they took a liking to each other.  Both were very calm and gentle towards each other and they soon became best of friends.

Mollie Sue and Barnum


Mollie would follow Barnum all over the house and they each had their favorite places to lay.  Barnum liked his bed in my husband's computer room and Mollie Sue would be in the chair in my room or on the wicker couch at the top of the stairs.  It was just the perfect size for her.


They both loved green beans for a treat and Barnum had an internal clock and would awaken about 6AM and bark to get up and eat and then he would bark about 3:30PM for more "puppy stew".  The day that he became ill, he was his normal self in the morning and then suddenly became very lethargic in the afternoon.  That prompted a visit to our vet where they found a tumor in his spleen and sent us to the 24-hour veterinary clinic in Mesquite for emergency surgery as his blood count was dropping.


He survived the surgery but then started to rebleed.  They had found two tumors when they removed his spleen.  We immediately went to his side.  They brought him out on a small stretcher with a soft blanket covering him.  He was laying on his side with a little pillow under his head.  His eyes were open but he was not responsive and his breathing was shallow.  We gently touched him and told him we loved him but we knew that the time had come to make a decision.  He quietly moaned as we would talk to him.  His clotting time was prolonged and we could not put him through more pain and suffering.  He never deserved any of this.  We made our decision and stayed by his side until the end. 


He had a good life but a dog's life is never long enough.  He gave us so much love and was such a good companion to Ms. Bailey and Mollie Sue.  We will miss him dearly and he will always be in our heart.  Thank you Barnum for all your love through the years!  You are the best!

  Love you "big dog"!        

A special thank you to the Animal Hospital of Rowlett and Lake Ray Hubbard Emergency Pet Care for being there for us in our time of need.  Your professionalism, sensitivity, and skills are greatly appreciated in the care of our "baby"!



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