Saturday, January 05, 2008

Gone but not forgotten

I started this post on Thursday as Bailey and I enjoyed a peaceful coexistence on the sunny living room couches... I have finished it up this evening and am ready to post a eulogy to my crazy dog - so hard to love yet I loved her all the same...

Bailey

Born in August 1996. Has been a part of my life since October 1996. Almost like a marriage… for better or worse, in sickness and in health…

As we sit together in a spot of afternoon sunshine, I would like to take a few minutes to reminisce over this crazy journey, reliving the good times, remembering her crazyness, and sharing the lessons I have learned.

One of Bailey’s first nicknames… Houdini. As in, can escape from anything! When we first got her, we would leave her in the backyard while we were at work. She would chew through her leash, jump over the 6 foot fence, and run free through the neighborhood. One of Marta’s favorite stories to tell about Bailey is how, when she arrived at our house one Friday afternoon to dogsit, Bailey’s chewed off leash was hanging over the fence and Bailey was nowhere in sight. She went inside and sure enough there was a message on the answering machine with Bailey’s location.

Bailey loved to eat paper products… Kleenex, toilet paper, feminine products, diapers. I really have no idea what the attraction of used paper products was but she loved to eat them. Consequently we kept all the trash cans (kitchen, bathroom, etc.) either behind closed doors or at counter height.

Not that counter height was a deterrent to the climbing wonder. Just as she could leap a six-foot fence in a single bound, she could also go from floor to table top in the blink of an eye. My mom told me a story once… She was staying with us after Ryan was born. On day, Ron and I left with Ryan. Mom was still there but I guess Bailey didn’t realize this. Mom said she watched Bailey as she watched us pull out of the driveway and drive away. As soon as we were gone she made a beeline for the dining room table and jumped right up, looking for crumbs. Boy was she surprised when Mom yelled at her to get down!

In another counter-climbing story… Ron and I were in NM, visiting his parents. His sister was also home and had made pizza for dinner. She and Jared went out for the evening. When we all returned, the pizza that was on the kitchen counter had been eaten by the furry monster known as Bailey. I don’t think Elena will ever let me forget that. We quickly learned that all food products must be put away before we left the house.

Even in her old age, we would occasionally arrive home to find evidence that Bailey had been scrounging on the table top… a knocked over glass, a plate licked clean. This would serve as a reminder to at least keep the chairs pushed in. She could no longer leap with ease to the countertops but would still climb up if assistance (in the form of a chair) were properly aligned and available.

Bailey failed obedience training. Or, more truthfully, I failed obedience training. Growing up, Mom was always in charge of the training when we got a new dog. She would send my brother and I out to take a turn with the daily lessons. I only did it because she told me to. When I moved out and had my own dog to train, I was a little lax in the practice and enforcement. Turned out to be a big mistake. Remember Houdini? Not only could she escape from anywhere but she would never come to me if I called. I would have to ask total strangers to call for her because she would go to them but would only run away from me. The only other way to get her back was to drive after her in the car. Once I found her, I could open the door and offer her a ride. She would always come back for a ride in the car. Yep, I definitely failed obedience training. But I learned my lesson and you can bet I’ll be doing more daily practice sessions with my next dog! And I will give Bailey credit… She was good at “Sit”. Not Stay. Or Down. Or especially not Come. But she would always sit when told. So at least she learned something in doggie school!

Bailey was also referred to as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on occasion. She would be so happy to see you and want to be petted. Until she didn’t. At which point she would start growling at you. It was always about what she wanted. If she waned to be petted by you, okay. If she didn’t, then look out! By the time Bella was born, I knew there was no way I could monitor a new baby, a toddler, and a crazy dog all at the same time. Ron’s parents were nice enough to take her in. She flew to NM and lived in the garage and backyard. Emilio had to raise the fence height after she escaped several times. I’m surprised she wasn’t eaten by a coyote out there in the western wilderness.

By the time Felisa was two, I decided that the kids were old enough for Bailey to come back. Ron’s parents were traveling a lot and had to have a neighbor watching Bailey, bringing her food and water. Four years in solitary confinement had done wonders for her Houdini tendencies. Never once ran away after returning home. Unfortunately it did not improve her crazy split personality tendencies. She spent many playdates shut in my bedroom and everyone who visited regularly knew to just ignore her. She did have a few favorite visitors though – Ron’s brother, Richard, and Jon. And of course Eleanor, the source of many thousands of miles walked through the neighborhood.

Eleanor walked Bailey almost every day. Took care of her while we were on vacation. Loved her even when Bailey growled at her. Bailey’s quality of life in a house full of kids was definitely improved by Eleanor’s loving devotion.

I often joked that I thought Bailey either had Short Dog Complex or was part cat because she loved to sit up on the back of the couch. Her spot… She would lie on the back of the couch, looking out the window, barking at passers-by every day. She owned that couch. No one else ever dared to sit there for fear of the growl. Almost every picture taken of her since her return from NM shows her in that spot. It’s that very spot which seems so empty now that she is gone. She rarely got up to greet us when we got home but she was always there in her spot – I could count on it. It feels empty now. I keep looking over to say hi and check on how she’s doing. She’s not there.

She’s doing fine though… living the good life in Doggie Heaven.

2 comments:

mapiprincesa! said...

I shed my tears for her, too. She was your pet and, even if hard to love at times, was unloveably loveable.

I will miss her, as will everyone here.

HB, CA said...

it's so hard when we loose a pet. i wish you and your family peace.

i still get weepy about my cat that passed over 4 years ago.

their gifts of unconditional love and companionship-sp? are amazing and it's very hard on us humans when they go.

i have a question about your tag she-ra. do you collect them? i'm a collecter of them myself.

hang in there. it's ok to be sad and cry about missing her (even years later).