It has been a few days now since we lost our beloved Bailey. She was such a sweet and loving 8 year old puppy. As hard as it was to say goodbye, we did the right thing to stop her from suffering any longer. I know your memories of her will be few—if you remember her at all—so, I wanted to say a few things about Bailey and how much she meant to our family—to me.
They say dog is man’s best friend. I never doubted that saying, but I now know it’s especially true because I am faced with an enormous heartache. In the past 72 hours I have been flooded with emotions and memories. I have, at times, stopped dead in my tracks because a random memory popped in my head and I didn’t want to simply brush it aside. Like when we were outside throwing snowballs, I stopped for a minute because I knew Bailey loved to catch them and eat them. There are so many other memories, too. Memories of times before you were even born. As a puppy she really loved to keep us on our toes. From the time I got home to find our doorframe had been chewed off to the crazy few times we tried to give her a bath on our own. I will miss having her follow us around when a storm comes through. She hated storms and would stay so close that we would sometimes trip over her.
I’ll never forget how much Bailey loved the water. The beginning of her life was filled with swimming at the lake and chasing ducks. Your mother and I just laughed as we reminisced about the time we threw a ball out into the lake and she veered off course because she thought she could sneak up on a duck. Once the duck flew off she was content to circle back around to get the ball and bring it back to shore. She lived in the moment. She was always happy, but she was happiest at the lake. Her favorite words were “Hey Bailey, wanna go to the lake?” We will be spreading her ashes at her favorite spot once the weather gets warm as one last tribute.
She was also a fierce protector of our family. I loved that she was hesitant around any new men that came around. Whether it was the delivery man, door-to-door salesmen, or even our landlord. She would bark and growl like the great guardian that she was. I thought that was going to serve our family well as you got older. At the same time, she was so affectionate. She would shower me with kisses whenever I’d let her. She was always trying to give you kisses, too. And she always wanted to sit in people’s laps. At 70+ pounds, she made things interesting.
One of the things we’ll miss the most is her ability to clean our dining room. It hit us in the past week, when Bailey didn’t want to eat, that we were blessed to have a living vacuum. Ever since you were eating food she was always there to quickly clean up any messes. For the first time in over 8 years, I had to vacuum the rug under the dining room table. And Luke, we would often just sit you on the floor after a meal and she would come clean you, too. I think that’s why you—Luke—loved Bailey so much.
The thing I will miss the most, though, was my bedtime routine. Before going to bed every night I would finish cleaning up and go around checking that the doors were locked and lights were off. Before heading to our room I would find Bailey sleeping on the couch. I would then get on all fours in front of her on the living room floor and put my head down as if to hide. She would happily jump off the couch and try to nudge me. She wanted in. She wanted to get her big head under me to be close. Without fail she would knock me over and we would either lay there for a minute or she would then get a ball to play. No matter what, I ended my night by petting this sweet dog. Now that you were in bed and your mother was asleep Bailey knew it was our time. She loved the attention. These late night memories are what I keep shedding a tear over. I laid on the living room floor the past few nights and for the first time there was no one there to nudge me. No furry animal to knock me over. No sweet loving Bailey for me to pet.
So, they say dog is a man’s best friend. Yep. No doubt. It was extremely difficult watching her condition deteriorate in just 7 days. To go from a once happy, healthy, funny dog to a dog who was in pain and couldn’t even eat. There was nothing like laying on the vet floor, nose to nose with Bailey, petting her head and holding her paw as she breathed her last breath. Talk about a surreal moment. I lost my best friend and I’m a mess. Her dog bed will probably sit at the foot of our bed—it’s rightful spot—for a long time. I cleaned her food dish and put it at the center of our dining room table as a reminder that she was a part of our family for just 8 short years. It’s going to take a long time to get over this. Some might say “geez, it’s just a dog.” That’s true, she was a dog. But she was our dog. A beautiful soul. She was my best friend who loved me—loved us—no matter what. And everyday for 8 years of my life she was there for me. I just hope I was there for her.
I wanted to write this letter in the hope that you would remember something about Bailey. But if you don’t, that’s okay, too. The one thing I want you to take away from this, though, is that we suffered a great loss to our family. Admittedly, I probably took it the hardest. All of the sadness I felt, and all of the sadness I will feel, is nothing compared to all of the love, loyalty, and fun times Bailey gave us over 8 years. I hope you have the opportunity to welcome your own dog—or cat, or horse, or whatever animal you want—to your family one day so you can experience the same fulfillment I got. Life is certainly better if you have an animal companion to share it with.
Rest in peace, sweet Bailey.