Of Dogs and Patriots



The Patriots

had just made another huge play in a series of huge plays against the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship game.  I was really excited, but my Patriots-excited voice can sound kind of angry too.  Well, the newest addition to the family — a Golden Retriever puppy — thought something pretty horrible was happening.

Barnesy is his name.

He sidled up to me at the tail end of my outburst and I thought, ‘ah, what an awesome dog!  He wants to celebrate with me.’

Somewhere near the middle of that thought, I felt a warm sensation on my left leg and foot. Fucking Barnesy.  He wasn’t celebrating.  He was terrified, and was trying to calm me down.  I don’t know why peeing on me would calm me down.  Perhaps he just wanted to calm me down by being there and the peeing was an afterthought/involuntary by-product of the fear.

Anyway,  what a ballsy move for a puppy — cozying up next to a maniac that you’re somewhat terrified of to try and calm him down.  That’s Barnesy.  There’s not a problem he can’t solve with his friendliness.

He’s an odd dog.  Every time anyone comes home, he runs up to the door making the oddest of noises and shaking his ass wildly.  He loves.  It’s what he does.  Not one of his many counterpart dogs over the years could make him angry.  Every once in awhile a pup might get on his aging nerves and bones, but the most Barnesy could muster was to grunt and walk away.

My Father and sister, Maureen, got this dog as a replacement.  My Dad had Lou Gherig’s disease (ALS) and was already in a wheelchair at this point.  He would pass away in June 2002.

Barnesy was his stand-in.  Perhaps he figured if he got my Mom a dog, it would keep any human replacements away.  Well, it worked because Barnesy hasn’t left my Mom’s side in 11 years.

Young Barnesy

Young Barnesy circa 2002

Barnesy is the most meaningful dog my family has ever had.

We’ve had great dogs — probably 12 or so since we were kids.  Barnesy was the last gift our Father ever gave us.  A goofy and adorable distraction from life and death.  Barnesy came around the same year the Patriots won their first Super Bowl — another magic moment that helped distract us from the fucking bullshit that is ALS.

We found out this week that Barnesy doesn’t have much time left.  It was surprising how much this news felt like a punch in the stomach.  I love dogs, but have lost many over the years. Barnesy is different.  He’s historic.  He helped us get through the worst and celebrate the best.

As we watched the Patriots shock the Steelers that sunny winter day on Cape Cod, I had pee all over my pants and feet, my Dad was sick and dying, and it was a great fucking day.

We love you Barnesy.  You will be missed.