John Cawley

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Frames of Time...

006_05 - Seeing...
When we picked up Baron, it was easy to see what a special fellow he was.

He was our first 'baby', small enough to use a St. Bernard Beanie Baby as a pillow on his trip back from Arizona. So tiny at the start, it was very easy to see him grow with the height chart we had by the door. Sometimes it was by inches a week! It was also easy to see his emotions as he used his entire body for each one. He was one of the fews dogs I knew that you could actually see laugh. However, his happy spirit could not hide some serious problems.

I easily saw that he was having trouble walking in the show ring. A judge agreed and after x-rays it was found he had serious hip problems. While at a convention, it was easy to see he was having problems negotiating a black and white chess-board style tile floor. An eye doctor confirmed he had major vision problems seeing contrasts between dark and light. His problem with dry chow led us to the raw diet and discovering he had digestive disorders. However these problems never stopped him from having fun. Though he grew in size, his spirit remained young, always "the baby". And, for reasons that mattered at the time, I was his 'pop'.

His mentors included Hoss, our Black that taught him to be happy, Bronx, our Harl who taught him to be loud and in your face, and Nikoma, our Akita who refused to 'correct' his puppy behavior thus causing Baron to be quite spoiled. Baron frolicked with just about anyone and anything. Everyone could see the joy in his face has he played with toys, greeted strangers, played with his family and trotted around parks and events. For many of our friends, he was their 'favorite'. The world got to see him in the Thomasville commercial where he stared quizically at a goldfish and then leaped onto a couch.

But more important was what I got to see. The joy he showed when I came home. His happiness at taking the hat off my head, which always brought smiles and gasps from folks who watched. His excitement at catching and destroying 'ghosties' (plastic grocery bags). His fear at smelling smoke in the house, which caused us to all but give up using the stove. His firm, loving protection of 'the girls' in the kitchen. His photo with Santa when he suddenly decided to kiss Kris Kringle (seen in the photo). His exhuberance at swinging around the largest of plush until you would think his neck would snap.

I could also see his problems catching up with him. His failing eyesight caused him to get nose to nose with people so that he could see their face. His weakening hips that caused him to drag his hind feet giving a sad, scraping noise. His unstoppable loss of weight which made every bone in his body visible. For the last year, he went on fewer trips. But when he did, he was up to any activity we could offer, and could keep up with even our fastest girls. But the weight loss became an issue, and soon he could only go out with a coat, so as those seeing him would not fear he was malnourished.

It was Spring 2004 when we felt his health signs began warning the end might be near. But he surprised us by going yet another year. Spring of 2005 was different. A virtual skeleton with fur, Baron had begun to nap more. He played less. I was at work when I received an email telling me it was time. That night I tried to act as if everything was the same. And so did he. That next morning we took him to the Lake where he had his usual fun, but soon tired. Shortly after, he left his weakening body as I cried.

That night when I came home, for the first time I felt a shift in the house. It was definitely quieter, without his booming voice. His absence left me quiet, also. But it was more than that. The house seemed less happy. Some of the joy had left. It wasn't until a few nights later when I was bringing down groceries that I cried again, recalling his joy of helping carry the bags and defeating the 'ghosties'. I wasn't affected again until his ashes arrived, as if finally stating it was over.

Looking back, I can see many of the things he did to make me laugh, to make me angry, to make me cry. But today, it suddenly occured to me. Off all the things I ever saw with him, in him, I never saw his end. I never saw his end.

text, photo and format John Cawley


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