I am sitting in the waiting room of a university veterinary hospital. My Barnabas is not doing well and we are here today, hoping for some answers.

I am sitting in the waiting room of a university veterinary hospital. My Barnabas is not doing well and we are here today, hoping for some answers.

I want these experts to tell me that these problems he’s having are very fixable. I want to see him catching the Frisbee, chasing the ball, wrestling his giant Orangutan or snoozing with his head in my lap. Barn is 11 1/2 years old, but on the inside he thinks he is still a puppy (and as far as I’m concerned – still just as cute). This red, tri-colored Australian Shepherd arrived in this world on St. Patrick’s Day. I was privileged to witness his arrival. I counted the days until I could bring my new puppy home. That day just happened to be Mother’s Day. Barn decided early on, that his “job” in life was to keep watch over me. As I fight the mental images of having to say my last good-bye to my sweet Barn, I realize what an integral part of my life he has been; woven into the very fabric of every day I live. I think about how he has been a stabilizing constant, like my “woobie,” my security blanket, always there to comfort, support and love me when I felt alone, afraid, unloved or unlovable. Barn’s constant love, loyalty and devotion have been an undergirding, such a huge source of strength for me. 

 I have enjoyed his presence by my side almost every day of his life, from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning until I crawl into bed at night. He’s there patiently waiting beside my bed every morning. He follows me to the bathroom and then to the coffee pot. He watches me pour my coffee, fix my toast and then follows me out the door to greet the morning. He always gets the crust of my toast. I can’t go to any room of the house or leave during the day without him right behind me.  The last ritual of the day is giving him his bedtime treat. He hates it when he sees me break out my suitcase because he knows that means I’m leaving. He’s ecstatic if I tell him he gets to go along.

Barn has always been a clown and his arrival brought laughter back into my life and he taught me how to take time to play again, after I’d let life beat me down until I’d forgotten how. What a gift he has been. I spoke to my aunt on the phone this morning and we both cried, talking about all the funny, sweet memories Barn has provided and what a precious family member he has been.

I can’t imagine the pain of letting go of this dear, dear dog. I’ve heard people say they will never have another dog because it is too painful when you lose them. In spite of the hole in my heart his departure will leave, I wouldn’t trade the life we’ve had together for anything. Eleven and a half years of blessings Barn has given me far outweigh the pain.

 We’ve all read or heard the stories of the gift of “one special dog” that crawled right into the very heart and soul of a person’s life; that special one, that unique relationship that seems never to be repeated. The dog (or cat) has come into the person’s life at just the right time with just the right qualities, impacting their lives with just the love and companionship that they needed in that particular season of their life. Barnabas has been that kind of gift to me.

We always hope that our rescue will be that “special” faithful friend to the person that adopts them. Each time we receive an email from someone who tell us how much one of our orphans has enriched or blessed their life encourages us that what we do is meaningful and important, not only to the life of the animal but to the lives have they touched. Sometimes the orphan and the adopter “rescue” each other. We’ve seen many matches that seem “made in heaven.” For Barnabas and me, I am quite sure ours was!

Leanne Williams writes a weekly column for the Daily News.