>> Thursday, July 23, 2009 – Life and Family
I'm a dog person. You can't pet fish, gerbils smell strange, snakes are just gross, and cats make me sneeze. Dogs. They bark at scary noises, they endure "gentle" pets from my babies, and they even play ball sometimes (or ALL the time if you're Extra).
The picture up there is a picture of Bailey - our first dog. We got him as a 6 month puppy about 6 months after we were married - makes the math simple; he's as old as our marriage. He'll be twelve in August. For a dog...that's OLD. And quite frankly, he smells like it lately.
We were newlyweds, and we had just purchased our first home. The natural next step? A dog, of course! I scoured the local animal shelters, and one day I found that sweet little puppy. He was white with brown/orange spots, and he had blue eyes! He had just arrived in the shelter and wouldn't be available for adoption for a few more days. Oh, I wanted that dog so badly!
I showed up before the shelter even opened on the day he was up for adoption. The problem was that if there were other people who showed up wanting the same dog, they'd choose the "winner" with a raffle. The horror! My sister was good enough to come with me that day so that we could increase our odds of winning the raffle if it came to that.
It didn't come to that. We were the only ones there for him that morning. He was wet and cold from his recent bath, and he sat shivering on the concrete slab surrounded by chain link fence. He looked sad and scared and pitiful. He sat there silently and looked at me while the rest of the room erupted into ear-splitting barks from the other dogs. Sorry guys, I'm here for him.
So we took him home, and named him Bailey. We spoiled him rotten. My office cubicle was covered in pictures of the dog. My conversations were all about the dog. My lunch hour became a mad dash to get home and let the dog outside. I didn't have many friends...wanna guess why? ;-)
I know, I know...I needed a real baby! And I wanted to start a family with every fiber of my being, but I wanted to wait until we could afford for me to be a stay-at-home mom. It took four years of planning and scrimping and paying down debt, but we finally figured a way to start our family on our terms.
So real babies came into our lives, and Bailey got a serious demotion. I joke sometimes..."It's a good day if the kids are alive, the kids are alive, the dogs are alive, and the plants are alive. It's a great day if any of the above are actually happy." It's a pretty accurate list of my priorities (I know, I should be in there somewhere too, but most days I don't really know where I should be listed....slightly above or below the plants??").
Lately, Bailey has been showing his age. He sleeps all the time. He's not his perky self. He's deaf as can be. He's having more and more accidents. He's super skinny. He doesn't eat. And he smells like...well, he smells bad. I'll leave it at that. After eating dog food for 12 years and never once brushing your teeth, I'd like to see what you'd smell like! (I know, I know, it's possible to brush the dogs' teeth. I'm a dog person, but evidently not THAT kind of dog person. Sorry Bailey.)
There was one time recently when he was sleeping on the living room floor, and I was vacuuming. I'm accustomed to the dogs running the other direction when I vacuum. But Bailey just laid there. He didn't twitch a muscle. One of his eyes was even open. And try as I might, I couldn't see his chest moving with breath. I immediately panicked and got tears in my eyes and thought "Oh! He's gone! I wish I had been holding him..." I turned off the vacuum, sat down next to him, put my face next to his, and reached out to pet him one last time...to say goodbye.
Just then, his eyes flew open, and my big mug was RIGHT in front of his. I'm not sure who was more shocked or terrified, me or him! He scowled at me and walked away to find a safer place to sleep. I cried.
Granted, sometimes I wish we didn't have pets at all. Like when we have plans for a vacation and we have to find someone to take care of them while we're away. Or like when Bailey decides that he doesn't LIKE dog food, and he'll just beg for a living thank-you-very-much. Or when we come in the house and we smell that terrible smell that tells us that some very unfortunate accident happened while we were out (especially then). Or when I think of how hard it will be when Bailey's time with us is over...
But all things considered, I'm still a dog person. I'm especially a Bailey dog person - hang in there little guy.