Many years ago, my husband and I went to Laguna Beach for the weekend. While shopping, we saw this man walking his dog. There was something about that dog that I just loved. I remember thinking that if I ever had a bad day at work, I could come home and a dog like that would just make me laugh.
A few years later, Ed and I were married. It wasn’t yet time to have kids, but it was time to get a dog. But given that we lived in a very small condo, I knew I had to put my love for a big golden retriever aside, and find a small dog that could adapt to our small space. And then I remembered that funny-looking dog from Laguna, and began looking in the newspaper for a breeder.
I called Ed one day and said I found a breeder nearby. I was sure that this was the dog I wanted. On the drive out there, Ed played the role of my Dad - “Now you know, honey, we’re just looking. We’re not going to get the first dog we see.”
Fast forward three hours, and there we were sitting with this nice couple and the last two puppies in their litter. Ed kept holding both of them up in the air in the palm of his hands as if scrutinizing a brilliant diamond.
“I think we’ll get this one,” he proudly said. So much for the lecture on the ride there.
So the three of us drove to the nearest Target to get our new “child” all of her necessities. I stayed in the car with her and called my parents to tell them they had just become grandparents to an eight-week old Jack Russell terrier we named Bailey.
One hour later, I saw my husband pushing two, yes two carts, down the parking lot to our car. He excitedly showed me her new collars, leashes, towels, baby tub (for babies, not dogs!), assorted shampoos, chew toys, several brands of dog food -- the list went on and on. If Bailey could talk, I’m sure she would have said, “SCORE! I’m going to live like a queen!” And she did.
Though we both worked all day, that dog had it made after 5 p.m. I would take her out for daily walks every day, and she lived at the park on the weekends playing frisbee for hours. We can prove it. We have hours of videotape of her making amazing sky-high catches. Ask my parents, the poor souls who were subjected to watching them whenever they came by for a visit. If there were a frisbee tournament held in Calabasas, that dog would have taken first prize.
When we weren’t playing frisbee with her, we were taking her to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap or to the pumpkin patch to get a photo of her amidst a field of pumpkins. When we brought both of our kids home from the hospital, it was Bailey who announced to our friends and family that Ed and I had become parents.
This morning I woke to find her breathing very quickly. After my doctor appointment, I sat with her and stroked her nose. I vividly remembered all the good times we had shared and tried to forget the few moments of anger I felt as I had to clean up yet another mess from her ailing body.
As I grabbed a beach towel to wrap around her, I found her lying under my desk. She was on her side and struggling to breathe. The kids and I placed her in the car and made our way to the vet. I don’t even think she made it out of the driveway.
As I sit here and allow my fingers to recall thirteen years of life with Bailey, I love that her last few minutes of life were beneath my desk. At my feet. Though I often forgot about her needs after my kids were born (and am filled with guilt about that), she epitomized what every dog should be. Loyal with a capital L.
Good bye, Bailey. We will miss you forever.