by Paul M
Letter to Bailey, my lab. He died 9/26/2019. I’m writing this on 9/29/2019. My grief for
my dog, my pet, my best friend is overwhelming. It’s undeniable.
I always called you Bail. Mom chose your name. Your floppy ears always perked up. Do you remember the day we met? You were in a cage in front of Pet-smart in Marietta, GA. It was a Saturday morning and mom and I were there to do some shopping. A rescue organization lined up some 20-30 cages outside the store. Mom went into a makeup store and I remained outside walking along looking at all the pups. I came to your cage and you immediately began wagging your tail and barking. Kind of love at first sight. I asked the lady to open your cage. She did and you immediately jumped on top of me knocking me on my back. You began licking my face and you wouldn’t stop. Mom appeared a few moments later, looked at us both and said “we’re taking him home, aren’t we”? Of course we were. It was 2006. Memorable.
And so began “our relationship”. We lived in a condo which had a creek in the backyard. Our
neighbor Rick also had a dog and the two of you chased one another, played together and
YOU Bail would run into the creek. You would be soaking wet. The look on your face. The sheer joy of what you were doing made both of us smile. You loved life. It was so obvious.
I would walk you, rain or shine down the block. You had a favorite spot to relieve yourself.
It was in the ivy at the corner. We’d get back home, I would dry you off and immediately you’d
come into the den, jump onto your favorite spot on the couch, get comfy and doze off. Mom and I would be watching television and you would sleep, secure in your knowledge you
were taken care of. If you needed something, you would always come to my side and slide your head under my arm. You’d lick my face. You would always lick my face. I’d hold your head, look into your eyes and scratch your ears. Heaven!
Within a few years we moved into a big house. I remember the first time you saw the fenced in
back yard. It was December 2, 2010. You ran into the yard. You ran back and forth in the yard.
It was all yours. You ran up the hill in the yard barking. Life was perfect for you. The yard was all yours. What more could a lab want? I was retired now. We would spend all our time together. Often in the afternoon during the summer, you would lay down on the grass, stretch out and fall asleep. How good was that? At night, you would find your spot in bed with mom and me. Who could say no to you? You were 70 pounds or so and took up a lot of room. Mom
would complain she couldn’t stretch out her legs! I could almost hear you snicker when she tried to move you. On occasion, you would stretch out between us resting your head on my
chest and we’d drift off to sleep together.
I had planted a few trees and shrubs in “your” yard and you would always be out there
watching me work. And then the memorable event in the summer of 2016. A rabbit darted
across the yard. You took off after him and caught him behind the high pampas grass. I couldn’t see you but I heard the rabbit screech. You appeared from behind the grass. A look
of satisfaction on your face. You did what a lab is supposed to do. You protected your turf.
I was so proud of you. I’m not sure if I ever told you that.
The years passed. We grew older together. By the summer of 2019 I’d noticed you
had slowed considerably. In March I watched you try to run across the lawn. You fell down and I rushed you to the vet. Torn leg muscle. I took care of you at home. We worked together getting your leg back in shape. You could no longer climb the stairs and chose rather to sleep
in the den on your bed. Even jumping onto the couch became impossible. At any point in the night you would “growl” for me or mom to come downstairs so you could go outside and relieve yourself. Barking had also become difficult for you. Your appetite remained healthy but you also were drinking large quantities of water. I grew very concerned. At night, realizing it had grown difficult for you to get up, I’d sit on your bed with you on the den floor. I’d scratch your ears; you would lick my hand and I’d bend over so you could lick my face. We depended on
one another. We loved one another. Around the 23rd or 24th of September, you were laboring.
Your bowel movements were total diarrhea. A look of sadness I’d never seen came across your beautiful face. I was so worried. I’d sit with you. Stroking your face. Kissing your head. You would look at me always trying to get a kiss in. It was time for a vet visit. On Thursday morning,
September 26th me, mom and Ethan, our grandson took you to see Dr. Dunn. The worst possible news. Your body, after some 15 years was closing down. Not much Dr. Dunn could do. The pain I felt was unbearable but likely not as much as the physical pain you were feeling Bail. I loved you too much to allow that to continue. I was torn. I could not imagine my life without you. The joy you brought me was immeasurable. Never, ever had I had a dog, a four legged companion who loved life....and me as much as you did. Even as I write this, I’m somber beyond belief. As Dr. Dunn ended your pain, your last act was to lick my face as I bent down to kiss your head one last time. You’ll never be forgotten Bailey. Ever. To my last dying day. I love you. Dad.