Finley - Willow - Louisville, KY
By: Patti Finley
A little more than seven years ago, I took my dying husband on a road trip west to see Arches and Cayonlands, and the Grand Canyon. At the same time, thousands of miles away, a male Berner puppy was born to Amish Puppymillers in Missouri. Unlike other puppies, he didn’t have toys, he didn’t learn to go pee on grass, and he didn’t have playmates. For whatever reason, the puppymillers waited until he was eight months old to sell him at auction.
I didn’t know that as my husband, my Knight in Shining Armor, faced dying, my new knight was beginning his life in fear and extreme filth.
2006 was a horrible year. I lost my husband, my Berner girl Missy, and my dad within 6 months. However, with the year closing and with a devastated heart and soul, I contacted B.A.R.C. wanting a puppy. Many have heard the story of wanting a puppy and getting a pony, well, I got something far more valuable than any pony that could go on to win the Triple Crown. Returning from my father’s funeral in Cleveland, a gangly, giraffe looking, stinky, and terrified four legged knight came into my life to weld together my broken heart and shattered dreams.
I named him, BARC’s No More Weeping Willow, or Willow, as a promise to both of us that there would be no more pain and no more tears. Willow is my heart dog—all of my grief work went into him. With the help of my Berner girl, Kenzie, he learned what it was to be a Berner. He brought nothing but joy back into my life. Willow blossomed into an amazing creature. He is beautiful and full of life but oh still so fragile. Thanks to the lovely Amish breeding program he has epilepsy, lupus, night blindness, hypothyroidism, and is an orthopedic train wreck.
When I lost Kenzie in December of 2010, Willow crawled back into his feral state. It took another strong alpha female, Ayehli’s All Around Gold—Tia, to bring him back and teach him more. It is as if she has told him, “hang on Willow, we’re going for a ride!” The two are inseparable.
Through Willow, I reconnected with old friends, made many new and incredible friends. Willow has been a source of intense love, belly aching laughter, and at times sheer amazement. He trusts me totally and is blind to my quirks and imperfections. The terrified boy is gone. Medication keeps his medical maladies in check.
Willow became a Veteran in February; something I never thought possible. I thank God every day when I wake up to the silly boy romping through the house tossing toys in the air. I treasure every moment that I have had with him and will continue to hold dear every minute we still have together. I give thanks for all that I have learned from him and all the good that has come to me because of him.
Willow, thanks for all you have brought me; thanks for being my knight with four feet and fur! I love you so much it’s scary.