Downsizing, Day One

Kayla and Andrew are tearing apart our house.

Not literally. But they’ve emptied the shelves and have trash bags everywhere. I checked, there’s nothing tasty inside. Instead, there are recycling bins of paper and giant piles of bags of clothes.

I stay close, a ball in my mouth. I keep wagging my tail, hoping they’ll throw it. But it’s also a bit of a coping mechanism, I’ll admit. I am worried they’re going to leave me. Leave.

I don’t know what’s going on, but they keep tripping over me as they sort all of the things in the house. There’s a giant pile of things they say are going to be donated. There’s another pile of stuff that will be for sale.

They’re giddy, hugging each other and throwing my ball for me. Kayla keeps saying, “It’s all right, Buddy.”

My name isn’t Buddy, but I wag my tail anyway.

The Piles

I sniff the piles, inspecting them. Kayla has mushed all of her clothes into a single small Rubbermaid container. I wouldn’t even fit inside of it. There’s a large pile of climbing and camping gear. Andrew sorts the gear, growing a pile of gear to sell as well.

Andrew’s clothing pile is small, too. There’s a knife, a tent, a small pyramid of books, a bug net. Nothing for me. Are they leaving me?

I shake off, hard, trying to dispel the feeling. I wander over to the Donate pile. It’s so big it nearly blocks my water dish. If I tried, I could burrow into it. I consider this, then decide that it’s not structurally sound. There’s even more clothing, a lot of kitchen items, and some decorations.

A tiny pile on the bed is for Kayla’s family. She’s not as good at giving up on sentimental things as Andrew. She says she’ll mail it to them for safekeeping.

Her skis and Andrew’s snowboard sit in the Sell pile. That’s a bit weird, but she also left some skis in Wisconsin. I lie down and stare at a stuffed cow between my paws. Worrying.

Time To Choose: Frisbee or Ball?

Kayla opens the closet and starts rummaging. I stop breathing. Is she about to pull out my Frisbee? Are we going to play?

I quick-step over, light on my toes, and stare. Not breathing.


She makes a giant pile of all my toys, my leashes, collars, harnesses, treats, and brushes. I stay close, barely breathing. Are we about to have a party?


She starts sorting, holding out two toys to my face and letting me nose one. When I nose one, she tosses it to me. The other toy goes into a bag. Then we start again.

I pick my cow instead of the squirrel. A tiny white ball instead of a big green one. I hesitate for a long time between my two rope toys, then go for the newer one.

In this fashion I nosed four toys. They lie on the floor before me.

The rest of my things are in bags. Most of the toys are a bit ratty anyway, but I see a few oldies-but-goodies go in. Kayla keeps saying to Andrew, “It’s harder to get rid of Barley’s stuff than mine!”

She’s right. She sat with me and sighed and called to Andrew more with my toys than she did with her own clothes. It must be hard for her. I’m keeping my favorite toys, and I see my bungee running leash and boots stay in the “keep” pile. That’s good – more adventures?

We play a good round of tug with one of the toys. She even lets me keep my loudest squeaky and my biggest ball out – that’s new. I carry my toys around with me as they continue sorting and packing. They share chips with me, so I think I’m ok.

Last time I saw them pack and sort like this, we moved to the apartment and left my yard behind. But this feels different – they’re sorting more, packing less.

But something is coming. I know that.

Andrew and Kayla keep talking about adventures. That’s why they’re spending more time training me, and why I went to the vet today. Something big must be coming, soon. The start of… something.

Author: Barley The Dog

Barley is a four year old border collie who absolutely loves fetch. His zest for life keeps Kayla and Andrew on their toes. He’s also really, really, ridiculously good looking.

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