If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.
And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.
– Sally Evans (written for Shoo-Fly)
Two weeks ago, we had to say good-bye to a very loved family member named Bailey.
We got her from a wonderful man named Al in North Carolina who owns and runs Trugrit Bull Mastiffs. His dogs are show dogs and champions, but we just wanted a loving, family pet and boy, did he deliver what we wanted.
She was born in January of 2007 and she came home to us in March of the same year. My boys were 5 and 3 years old at the time and I remember thinking she thought of them as her littermates.
Here they are meeting her for the first time…
I am so sad that she is gone…
She was such a part of our everyday lives and now there is an emptiness and loneliness and an aching that hits me when I least expect it.
I am kind of surprised at how much this is hurting me. After all, she wasn’t my spouse, or my child, or one of my parents. I knew she had a life expectancy of 8-10 years. I’ve had dogs my whole life and had to say good-bye to all of them. Yet I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to her. She truly was, in my case, “woman’s best friend.” She was my whole family’s best friend.
She was there for birthdays…
She was there for first days of school…
She was part of every Christmas…
And the boys always had to snuggle with her before bed…
If we had a hockey tournament out of town, she went to my parents’ house and was treated like a queen and had their dog to play with…
And she went on every vacation with us and even thought she could take over the driving…
She watched as we left for school, or work, or practices, or just going to the grocery store…
And she waited patiently until we came home…
She was sweet and loving and loyal and true. She had a calm personality but was easily excited when family and friends came to visit. One of the things she always did when visitors she particularly liked came over, is find a sock from somewhere and offer it up to them; big, friendly tail wagging and knocking over things in her path.
She liked to play hide and seek with us in the house. We would hide and call out for her and she would search until she found each one of us in our hiding places. And then she would jump around with joy at having completed her task.
She loved to go for walks around the neighborhood and would prance and strut her stuff in her big, strong dog way. Strangers were always stopping us to ask about her and she always had a kiss and a wagging tail for them. I’m afraid she probably wasn’t a very good watchdog, I’d never seen her show any aggression toward any other dog or person. Instead, she just sniffed and wagged her tail at them. I’m sure if she felt we were ever in danger in any way, she would have been there to protect us.
She even knew how to tell time!-She ate at 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. every day and if I was even a little late, she followed me around with a little bark to let me know it was food time. She patiently waited for me to make the boys’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their lunches and drooled until I gave her a lick of the butter knife.
I can’t even look at peanut butter without getting teary for her.
Her most favorite thing, the thing she was best at, was loving us.
In our busy household, she was always a calming presence, always ready to be hugged and petted. They say petting an animal releases oxytocin into the brain, the feel-good hormone that calms and relaxes a person. Sitting with her, her head on my lap after a long day, was therapy for me.
If my youngest son had a bad day, Bailey was who he went to first, speaking softly to her. Her answer was always licks to the face and a head on his shoulder. Then he was ready to talk to us about what was bothering him.
I miss seeing them playing together in the yard.
If my oldest son was frightened by something, Bailey was there to comfort him also. Her presence was reassuring as he learned to navigate some independence at home.
I miss seeing them rough-housing together.
She waited for my husband by the door to come home from work everyday, excited to see him, and that now the whole family was home together again.
I miss seeing her greeting him home.
I miss the everyday moments with Bailey.
Like walking into my bedroom and finding this…
Or friendships being formed and secrets being shared, like this…
We all grew up together as a family…
And when our big, strong, mighty dog that loved with all her heart got sick and started to suffer without hope for recovery, we had to do what is the hardest thing to do…
We had to say good-bye.
All four of us held her and cried and told her how much we loved her as she left our world. She can now run free again, muscles rippling, sunlight gleaming on her soft coat. I know deep in my heart we did what was right and just for her. I could not let her suffer another minute.
But, oh, HOW I MISS HER!
We are slowly getting used to what is our new “normal.”
People ask me if we’ll get a dog again…
Not anytime soon, these hearts need time to heal, especially mine. Perhaps someday our home will be ready, but I really don’t know…she would be a very hard act to follow.
Run Free, my big girl, until we
In Peace and Tears,