A few years ago, Barlow, the dog had been on death row at an animal shelter. It was there that Barlow learned the importance of having a friend.
Barlow was adopted by Liza McKenzie and her family and they love him dearly!
“He fits into our family so well,” Liza said.
After just a few months with Barley, the McKenzie family was about to get larger. After a teacher at the kids’ school adopted a rat, she turned out to be pregnant. The newborn rodents needed a safe place to live.
“We decided to take the three boys — Chippy, Dewey and Mud Truck,” Liza said.
Chippy was the most unique of the three rats; he was born hairless.
Liza wasn’t sure how Barlow would react to having the rats around. So Liza made sure they were introduced early and often. Once again, the hairless sibling proved unique again.
“Right from the start, I noticed that while Dewey and Mud Truck seemed to veer away from Barlow,” Liza said, “Chippy would always make a beeline for him.”
Barlow understood the rats were now part of the family and enjoyed spending time with them as they roamed around. He gave them their space and before long, a beautiful friendship began to blossom.
“Chippy was the only one of the rats who wanted to be as close to Barlow as possible whenever he was in the room,” Liza said. “Chippy could nibble on Barlow’s big claws or poke around in his ears and Barlow would just lay there and, quite frankly, seemed to bask in the attention.”
Barlow and Chippy found their soulmates in one another.
Barlow doted on his rat friend in return.
“I really knew that Chippy and Barlow were bonded when I saw how Barlow would spend so much time licking Chippy like he was a mother dog and Chippy was his baby,” Liza said. “He would even share his treats with Chippy.”
The McKenzie family and Barlow had grown very close, but sadly, as their lifespan is only about two years, their time together was brief.
Dewey passed away of old age, followed by Mud Truck a few months later. Chippy, at least still had Barlow.
Chippy outlasted his brothers, but soon his health began to fail. During the rat’s slow decline, Chippy sought out Barlow as a source of comfort. The dog was more than happy to oblige him.
“He loved to sleep next to Barlow’s warm belly as often as he could and Barlow was as gentle as he always had been with his sick friend,” Liza said. “I honestly believe that if Chippy hadn’t had as much ‘touch therapy’ from both me and Barlow that he wouldn’t have made it as long as he did.”
The McKenzies were all devastated, when Chippy the fighter, passed away. Barlow did not understand that his friend would no longer be around, so the McKenzies gave Barlow a chance to say his last goodbyes.
Liza said the scene was so moving, she decided to film it to preserve the memory: “I felt like it was such a powerful testament to the very real bond between them and I knew I would never be able to convey the way Barlow was reacting with words.”
Barlow accompanied Liza as Chippy was laid to rest in the backyard near his siblings. Barlow continued to linger by the large stone marking Chippy’s grave.
During the days that followed, whenever Barlow went outside, he could always be found visiting with Chippy.
The bond Barlow had for Chippy has not been broken. The dog’s graveside vigils did become less frequent with time.
“I think being able to process Chippy’s death in a way he could understand, smelling and licking Chippy’s body, helped him to move through what humans call grief more quickly,” Liza said. “I feel more at peace knowing that Barlow understands exactly where his friend is and what happened to him.”
The McKenzies’ hearts are still healing and losing a friend is never easy. The love that blossomed in Chippy’s short life will be something Barlow and the family will have forever.
“He was a special little guy,” Liza said. “We miss him every day.”
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