The Dog I Needed

The Dog I Needed

A Story by barleygirl
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Life lessons taught by my dog.

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As Cesar Millan the Dog Whisperer says: We end up with the dog we need. Whatever life challenges I face, any dog becoming part of my life has arrived to teach me what I need to evolve to higher understanding. This was certainly true in my thirties when Barley entered my life.

My mom visited one weekend with her new puppy, Babe. I was completely enamored and asked if there were any other puppies available in this litter. Given a phone number, I called to discover there was one little girl remaining. I eagerly drove two hours the next day to claim this dog, sight unseen. That turned out to be the most rewarding act of faith at that point in my life.

At the time, my favorite song was “Fields of Gold” by Sting. I named my new tri-color cattledog “Barley” after this song because of her forehead marking like a shaft of grain " fields of gold, fields of barley. I brought my shy country puppy to the city where I lived and worked like a maniac. Barley was so timid when I walked her on noisy neighborhood streets, I dragged her along by her leash.

In the thick of the rat race, I usually worked ten hours per day. Barley was miserable, home alone for such a long day and very bored. Plus, when I got home from work, I was a bundle of stress, hardly paying any attention to her. I just wanted to zone out at the end of each workday. I didn’t deserve such an adorable puppy given my lack of awareness and empathy.

At first, I got complaints from neighbors because Barley started howling as soon as I left for work. Leaving the stereo on all day fixed that problem, but then she started chewing up everything in the house in her boredom. My new sofa had several large holes and all the stuffing would be strewn about the carpet to create a blizzard-struck terrain. Barley shredded several sets of queen-size sheets. My bedroom looked like she’d spent the day flossing her teeth with my bedding.

In my childhood home, my dad was a mean, angry, perverted presence. His way of disciplining a brood of nine kids was to hit and yell and break things, calling the culprit a “stupid idiot” over and over. In addition, he regularly raped his two youngest daughters, of which I was one. His sexual torment lasted from age five to eleven, for me.  Consequently, I grew up with a fierce case of rage. It didn’t take much to set me off and I could be relentlessly cruel.

When my unknowing puppy tore up my house while I was at work, I punished her severely and unreasonably. One time I hit Barley so hard, my hand swelled up. My worst offense was continuing to scream at her as I picked up her mess and she cowered in the corner shivering. This scene was replayed every evening when I got home from work.

It pains me to remember how brutal I was to this precious creature. It was no wonder Barley shredded my possessions day after day. For all the rage I inflicted on her tiny being, she took it out on all my possessions the next day.

I’m not sure how Barley communicated this so unmistakably, but she finally got through to me. Eventually it dawned on me that I needed to fix my anger issues before I could get better behavior from my dog. The next time I came home from work to open the front door on a tornado-strewn home, I smiled at Barley through gritted teeth: “Good girl! I love you!”

She didn’t buy my act. For a week or two, I tried to pretend I wasn’t mad as hell, but Barley could still feel and even smell my rage. So she continued to destroy my furniture and bedding while I was at work.

Finally one day, my heart genuinely softened. After entering my front door, I didn’t even look at the cyclone damage within. I immediately fell to my knees and took Barley into my arms. I rolled onto my back and kissed her wholeheartedly. I didn’t bother to straighten up the house right away. I continued loving her, rolling around on the carpet, playing with Barley. I was so taken in by her sweetness, I truly forgot about her bad behavior.

This finally convinced her. Barley never tore up the house again. Miraculously, the rage I’d harbored since childhood evaporated, too. This marked a dramatic turning point in my life.

In the following years, Barley transformed me into a much better person. I noticed how she responded to the sound of my voice, so I made an effort to speak to her in loving tones as I went about my day. I saw how she loved my singing voice, so I sang to her on our walks together every day. I learned to forget about whatever I might have planned to do when I got home from work. After she had been home alone and bored all day, there was only one priority: spending time loving and playing with Barley. My transformation enriched both our lives.

Eventually, I decided to leave the stressful rat race in the city. For Barley’s sake, I moved back to the country where I grew up and near the ranch where she was born. I started working from my home so Barley never had to be alone all day again. Instead of working straight through the day without a break, I stopped to take Barley on short walks throughout my work day. Such lifestyle changes gave me a much healthier balance of work and play. I no longer defined myself by my career. And I was permanently cured of the rage from my childhood.

Although Barley’s too-short dog life ended decades ago, the lessons have carried on. Each dog to grace my life since Barley has built on her loving foundation. I’m continually presented with the dog I need at each stage of my life.


© 2016 barleygirl



Author's Note

barleygirl
Of many dogs over my lifetime, Barley was the super special one.

My Review

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Featured Review

The cycle of abuse. Victims often victimize. Sad but true. You had too much trauma in your life, until an angel, Sweet Barley, walked into it to help you heal. Your well-penned, honest and insightful story resonates with me. My own backstory is similar and my little rescue dog is also part cattle dog. I applaud your courage In confronting yourself , your weaknesses and your goodness

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

Thank you so much for your understanding read. The hardest part was admitting how I hurt Barley. Eve.. read more


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Reviews

The cycle of abuse. Victims often victimize. Sad but true. You had too much trauma in your life, until an angel, Sweet Barley, walked into it to help you heal. Your well-penned, honest and insightful story resonates with me. My own backstory is similar and my little rescue dog is also part cattle dog. I applaud your courage In confronting yourself , your weaknesses and your goodness

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

Thank you so much for your understanding read. The hardest part was admitting how I hurt Barley. Eve.. read more
I've never had a dog - their fangs scares the man in me - but barley did seem to be one hell of a life coup...how the small things make the biggest differences huh? Lucky you barleygirl - I choose to be blind to the "nays" - you are lucky...believe it :)

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

I've gotten some serious fang action, since I volunteered at an animal shelter for 6 years . . . man.. read more
-- i'm overwhelmed to meet your barley girl... and the profound effect of her magical presence in your life... i'm in tears but these are tears of triumph... -- abuse is crushing and child abuse is especially crushing and i know so from personal experience... -- overcoming its impact is a journey into the deepest realms of renewal... i think it's the purest kind of healing and that purity is something that you've expressed with a great deal of earnestness and sincerity...

-- this story is a mindmap of what abuse does to us and details the stages of recovery... -- it's not easy to write about one's violence but you've done so very honestly... -- for me, what's especially uplifting is that you transcended the deep scars of humiliation by making direct eye-contact with them... -- the mayhem that barley created was the trigger... but you didn't ignore the trigger... -- you saw your reflection in barley's river of mirrors... and barley was so fiercely true to who she was that she didn't settle for less... -- till the time you completely transcended your rage, she kept creating mayhem... -- and i'm not just saying this now, i truly feel that animals are more human and humans tend to behave like animals... -- we can learn so much from them but instead we ignore their wisdom... but this is my general lament... -- returning to your story, i think it was really remarkable that you allowed barley to transform your life... there's a part in us that remains receptive even when we are tortured and infuriated... and by bringing that out so beautifully and so sensitively, you give your reader the route to light and inspiration... and love of course... the purest and most generous love...

-- i'm especially inspired by the ending... which was actually a new beginning... -- the grace and eloquence with which you expressed your gratitude for who she was is pure magic... -- i, as the reader, can hear the songs you sang to her in my heart... -- i can sense the lightness of the air on those walks... and the conversations that thrived between her and you...

-- faith is a very tricky word because sometimes it can be a trickster... we can read something that inspires us to believe in something where faith does not reside... because it is written well... but here... on this page... faith is real and poignant... -- barley had faith in your ability to transform yourself and you had faith in your ability to forge a beautiful friendship with her... -- you may have started by writing hate poems for each other but ultimately your poetry and her poetry became the poetry of empathy and understanding... love and respect... and both of you blossomed in each other's radiance... -- you've immortalized her and your journey of healing by choosing 'barley girl' as your display name on this site... and that is some tribute to the beauty within you and that which you received (i.e. barley) from a universe that had earlier been infinitely cruel to you... (in your childhood)...

-- in short, i love this piece and no force on earth will make me forget it... -- it's a ravishing poem about the most divine kind of poetic justice...

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

I think your review is much more intense & heartfelt than my original piece here! You have such dept.. read more
. serah .

1 Year Ago

-- thank you for your kind words but i simply showed you what i received from your work... just read.. read more
This was a frank and revealing account of how pets can have such an impact on our lives. They can sense our distress, happiness, even boredom, and,, if the are allowed, empathise. We have always had dogs which are very much part of our lives, as they always seem to be able to diffuse tension.

PS. Now , at least I know how you invented your pen name.

Norman

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

I've had many dogs thru my life, but Barleygirl will always be number one! Thanks for reviewing & al.. read more
*sob* No I can't stop crying, i am sorry i just can't. There's so much in this story that would make me cry. I guess it's my fault that I take what I read to my heart and experience those situations myself that I end up sometimes end up as tormented or sad or happy or confused as how the story was. I am smiling don't worry, but the tears wouldn't stop i guess. I really loved this. Barley really was a daughter, a sister a savior for you and I know how much it has changed you and even cured you thank you for sharing. *hugs*

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much for sharing your true, deep, heartfelt response to my poem. You'll never know how .. read more
Érenn

1 Year Ago

I know you did tell me once. I wanted to read it, and I found time to do just that ^^ Thank you agai.. read more
A lot of people enters and leaves our lives, but only a few leaves a positive imprint. Your dog barley is one of those few. The story is well written and it also has a moral lesson which is "Do not mistreat your pets cause you see them just as animals, they also have something called feelings!!"

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your wholehearted review & for coming up with a moral to my story *smile* I concur!
Jerryyoung1z

1 Year Ago

You are welcome ma'am
Our species continues to have much to learn. Dogs are a special gift. I concur with Sam, your story is well written and powerful.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your very positive review. I'm glad my snarky reviews of your work didn't deter you fr.. read more
roarke

1 Year Ago

As you already know BG, you get out of something what you put into it. Simple as that.
Amazing story. I'm so sorry to hear that you were abused as a child, but I'm glad you had Barley to help pull your way through the anger. Very good job.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

Thanks for your caring & thoughtful review.
This comment has been deleted by the website administrators.
My words may be weak and insufficient, but here goes--this story is powerful and moving. Anger and rage erupting from a deep, disturbed well of childhood mistreatment is very familiar to me, for I've dealt with it, too. For you, I think Barley was truly your saint and savior. What an awesome story. (And flawlessly written)

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Year Ago

I'm sorry you had to go thru childhood mistreatment, too, but as Maya Angelou says, I wouldn't take .. read more
Elizabeth Ridge

1 Year Ago

No problem. I loved your story.

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Added on February 7, 2016
Last Updated on February 7, 2016

Author

barleygirl
barleygirl

Central Coast, CA



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