The Reluctant Top Dog


Flossie – 3yrs

Hello, Flossie here,

I am very sad to report that I have lost my dear old friend Keano. Ol’ Keans, who had slowed to a virtual stop in the last few weeks, has left us. The Boss is sad, the Boss’s family is sad but they all agree, he had a very good life. Unlike other dogs we have known, he did not require an operation or drugs or round-the-clock care. He simple ate his dinner, walked into the garden and collapsed. Very tidy! (Trust Keano to make sure he ate first).

The Vet confirmed his heart had given out and helped him slip away without pain.

This event occurred the night before the annual Barker BBQ which was difficult I imagine, for the family. This annual party had been planned for months, a live band had been booked and the garden was set up with tables and marquee. What could they do but go ahead?

The Boss says it took the edge of the sadness because some of our guests brought their dogs, including Doris, and I made some new friends, not least, Jerry and Maisie, a Springer Spaniel (hence the name) and a Labradoodle. I confess that for the next few hours I did not really notice that Keano was not around.

Things changed the next day. The Boss sighed a lot and I noticed Keano’s bed had been removed – ouch! That did confuse me. That’s when it hit me, I was now, top-dog. All those responsibilities that Ol’ Keans took upon himself, are now mine.

The Boss has read that sometimes, the personality of the dog left behind, blossoms. I think she is waiting for something to happen but honestly, I feel just the same as before.

The house is very quiet. Ol’ Keans had a tendency to bark at everyone and everything coming with spitting distance of the house. The Boss was always alerted to the paper landing on the mat or the postman calling or someone knocking at the door…now these events happen in silence. I know they are waiting for me to step up to the mark and bark but it just isn’t my style.

I bark when I want something, to go outside for instance, at the dog next door when she is in her garden but why bark at the paper? Why bark at someone knocking at the door? I just don’t get it. I always thought Ol’ Keano went over the top. In latter years, he has barked at the family when they arrive which they put down to failing eyesight.

So, the family are waiting for me to transform into something of a guard dog. Do I look like one? They’ll have a long wait! Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to fill Keano’s shoes and keep the family together but I am really hoping they don’t expect too much…

Keano not keen on sharing his bed with me when I was a pup!
Keano not keen on sharing his bed with me when I was a pup!
Me and my friend
Me and my friend…

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow www.theglowstudio.com.


  • Andrea Carlisle

    Keano gave it his all, protecting the family and putting up with you as a pup and teaching you the ropes on outings together. He was a full-fledged partner, friend, baby-sitter, and guardian. These are hard days. The party will take everyone’s mind away for a bit, and maybe that’s a good thing. I am so sorry. Our thoughts are with you, Flossie (and, of course, The Boss, too).

  • Teresa

    I am so sorry to hear this, Flossie. I expect everyone will be sad for quite some time yet, but I’m sure you’ll do a great job looking after them and keeping them busy – thank goodness they still have you to cuddle. Hugs for you all xx

  • Heather

    Oh Flossie, he was the best pal by far. Its so sad to loose some one dear. But you have such the right spirit. Keep calm and carry on! Xxx

  • patricia

    Flossie these are hard transitions as life goes on and I think you will blossom into your own personality without Keano barking the way ahead. I hope you will remain vibrant and help the family through the transition with your antics and good spirits – a tail wag a day can be so helpful to all. Zip will think about your sad and calm, when his extended family puppy arrives tomorrow – Lorax the Border Terrior is more like a terrorist and he barks a great deal too when he is not attacking me and wrestling.

    My guy went backpacking for 10 days and that is kind of a sadness too….ah we dogs must stick together Top Dog is quite a task to perform. At least you have music and the whole pack around. Lucky you (I do bark and bark and bark at everything – you should see all the deer eating apples in my yard right now and racoons and bunnies….back to work.) Feel better…

    • Deborah Barker

      Wow! Racoons, deer and bunnies? Paradise! The Boss fenced in the garden to keep the deer out a while ago (they ate all the tops off her flowers) but I do see some bunnies now and then and squirrels of course. The pigeons are the best. I never catch them of course but it’s a great excuse to go tearing down the garden. It certainly makes me feel better 🙂

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie .. Flossie seems to be fulfilling her gentle shoes slowly and her characteristics will give you different memories from Old Keans .. love the name!

    Glad the family BBQ was a happy occurrence despite the sad loss .. animals really do pull the heart strings ..

    Sad times, but wonderful Flossie is well settled in and realising her duties! Cheers Hilary

  • deb

    So sorry to hear about Keano’s passing. He certainly went in style. Lucky for everyone involved that Flossie is ready and able to step up to Alpha status. Will she be lone wolf for long?

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