Chewbacca “Chewy” Barnhart
Chewbacca “Chewy” Barnhart
Chewbacca “Chewy” Barnhart was born Dec. 25, 2006 and died surrounded by his dad and sisters on Jan. 14, 2018.

Nearly two months after he was born, my family and I drove to a Bob Evans in Bucyrus to meet a family who traveled from Akron to meet us. There, we saw the runt of the litter – an Airedale Terrier who was so small he could fit in my dad’s coat pocket.

Once home, he had all the space he needed to expend his terrier energy and was able to run around on a farm and play in a pond.

He loved the water. I mean he really, really loved the water. Chewy could swim all day. Years later in 2011 when I got my own dog Caesar, he and Chewy would play in the pond together. I watched a video just the other day that is nearly 5 years old of the two splashing and play-fighting in the pond together. Caesar was only a year and a half old then and had no gray on him. Today his face is nearly all white – they age too fast. Chewy was bright red and eventually that turned to a faded brown color.

Chewy was a good boy. I love my dogs to death, and they are good boys to me, but Chewy was well behaved. He could walk by your side without a leash and hardly ever made a sound, unless he saw a squirrel. He loved to yell at the squirrels, but he’d never run away from your side.

He loved walks. My dad and Chewy walked miles together, daily, nearly until the end. They traveled all over together. Chewy may be one of the only dogs around that enjoyed vacationing like a human. He and my dad took many trips together to Gatlinberg, Tennessee, where they hiked all over, and to the Airedale Terrier Rescue Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Chewy won many costume contests, usually dressed as Yoda. He never cared if you put him in a goofy outfit or put a scarf on him; he was just one of the most gentle dogs to ever exist.

Chewy had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a little after 8 p.m. last Sunday, at age 11, his heart had had enough. My dad, sister, and Chad drove from Fort Wayne, and I from Van Wert, to the Swiss City Vet Clinic in Berne, Indiana, where Dr. Grimm had been caring for Chewy for years.

Chewy had suffered from either a stroke or a heart attack and could no longer keep going. We were all there with him until he took his final breath. If you ever have a dog that needs to be assisted in death, please, please be with him until the end. It’s heart breaking, but at least they won’t be alone. They need you there.

Once home, I cried into Caesar’s back and on Jeter’s head. Both dogs just pressed against me waiting for me to be done. I swear they know. If I could still smell the vet on me, I know they could. They both were completely still, comforting me. If this hurts this bad with a dog I don’t see every day, how am I going to make it when my own best friends die?

Dogs are not just dogs to some people. For some of us, they are our brothers, sisters, children, and best friends. I’ve been through a lot of heart break, but nothing could ever match losing a dog.

My heart aches for my dad who lost a child and best friend this week. Chewy went everywhere with him. People knew my dad through Chewy, and I know his heart will continue to break each time he visits a place that Chewy used to go and they ask him where his buddy is.

If nothing else, there is at least comfort in knowing that Chewy is no longer in pain. He can now run and play with other dogs in the afterlife. RIP little buddy.