When Barley and I graduated from private lessons for her reactivity to being in multi-dog classes, I told our reactive dog trainer that I'd always loved Barley, but she'd helped me learn to like Barley. That was several years ago and my like for Barley didn't waiver (except for maybe a few brief moments of frustration involving the trash can and cat food).
Then on May 13 that changed. For the first time in over four years, I didn't like my dog very much. The day had started out well with a nice walk followed by a lawn mowing sessions. My campus was holding our graduation that night, so after I'd showered, I had about an hour before I had to throw on a dress and meet my friends for our traditional pre-graduation dinner. It was cool out, so I thought Barley and I could get a little fetch session before I prettified myself.
|We'd had dozens of play sessions without incident.|
But on this day, things changed. I'd just gathered up most of the long line so we could head back inside for me to get ready when the dog came outside. Instead of listening to me say "What's that?" Barley took off and pulled the leash through my hand--and since I'd just gathered the leash, almost all 50-feet of it shredded my hand. My left ring finger and pinky got the worst of it--with most of the skin disappearing--but my thumb and index finger were also blistered. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced and I got lucky.
I did my best to clean the blue leash fuzz out of my fingers (although a week later I was still occasionally finding some), bandaged the two worst fingers, and did my best to keep my hand on ice while also trying to do my hair and get a dress zipped. I knew Barley didn't mean to hurt me, but I was so upset with her that evening. She knew it and slept under the bed even though it wasn't hot and there weren't thunderstorms. We went to my parents' house the next weekend and a few days later I took a quick vacation with my friends and that was the time we needed to get back to our normal relationship.
|15 days after the incident. It was too gross for picture before that.|
It's been over three weeks now, and my hand still isn't completely healed. To make things worse, my ring finger is in that itchy phase of healing so I'm constantly having to stop what I'm doing to slather lotion on it for some temporary relief. My ring finger was the worst and it still occasionally cracks if it gets too dry or I move it in the wrong way and the tender new skin on my pinky is still extra sensitive to heat, which makes me sad when I want to snuggle up with a cup of coffee and forget about that. But for the most part, my hand is back to normal with minimal pain and I can almost pretend it never happened.
I decided immediately, though, that there would be no more outdoor play sessions for Barley until we got a fence. I couldn't trust her to not do something like this again and I was very aware that things could have been significantly worse. I figured this would take at least a year because fences are expensive and I needed to rebuild my savings after all of the moving expenses of the last couple months.
As bummed as I was about that, I knew Barley wouldn't suffer in the long run. She rarely got play time like that when we lived in the apartment and she still had agility class and 3+ miles of walks a day to keep her active, so her life would still be fun.
After seeing my hand, my parents graciously offered to set up a loan for a fence for Barley (they kind of love their grandpuppy) and we typed up some terms of repayment. When we got home from our travels, I set up estimate appointments to look at our options. I assumed it would be months before anyone could get to our job, but the local fence company said, "Right now, we're looking at 3 weeks before we could come out, but I know how much better it will be for your dog to have a fence sooner, so we'll see if we can rearrange some jobs." I was sold. They called two days later and said they could come this week--less than a week after coming out to do the estimate.
|None of these options look like they'll make it easier for me to eat the neighbors.|
I've cleared out all of the brush at the back of the yard (after my millionth trip to Lowe's--this time to buy a lopper) and the yard is set for the fence installation to start today!
The project will likely be completed Wednesday, so we should only have one more night of Barley having to be tied up to a tree in the yard for our evenings of sitting outside listening to the Pirates games.
So my Barley girl, I still like you, I've always loved you, and I can't wait to spend the rest of summer vacation enjoying our backyard together.