How in the world can I put into words what it was like losing our Bailey?
Our dog was pure joy. He really was. But if I’m being completely honest it was NOT my idea to get him. Now don’t get me wrong. I grew up with a dog who I truly loved, and if at any point over the course of my life you asked me if I would get another dog I would have answered with a resounding yes.
But life has a funny way of getting very busy when you have young children, between school and friends and sports and, well, you remember. And so when my oldest began campaigning for a dog at the ripe old age of eight, promising to feed it and walk it and play with it, I tried to remain calm as I envisioned what would certainly be MY new responsibility.
I’m not sure if your kids are anything like mine, but my, shall we say, strong willed offspring, didn’t just ask for a dog. My daughter literally put together a presentation that would inspire her boss to immediately put her up for a promotion. She included charts and graphs comparing hypoallergenic breeds and good family dogs. She left no stone unturned. She had answers for every potential question their dad and I might have, and she even prepped her younger brother on how to react to any issues we might bring up.
And we caved.
I vividly remember looking at Bailey as he looked at me, sizing each other up, both trying to figure out the best way to train the other. The rest, as they say, was history.
Bailey truly “got” all four of us. He was active and rambunctious when we picked my son up from school and the two of them raced each other home. He was calm and cuddly when my daughter placed him on the couch, surrounded by dolls and blankets and then joined him to cuddle while they watched Hannah Montana. Not wanting my husband to ever eat alone, Bailey was always at his heels when the Skippy jar was opened and the two of them would have their snacks together. And me? Well, he just kinda’ helped me run the household if I’m being completely honest.
He always kept me company in the kitchen, no matter what meal was being prepped. He helped me unpack the groceries - literally running back and forth with me from the car to the kitchen. When I worked at my computer, he sat under my desk, not wanting me to be alone. When the kids were sick he stayed by their sides, while I got their medicine.
He LOVED those kids! When they swam, he swam. When they played sports, he played sports. When they had friends over, he played with them as well. And when our kids were in trouble and their dad and I had to give them a talking to, I know for a fact that my little angels would bring him into their room, talk everything out with him, and complain to him about us. He never gave away their secrets.
He was simply always there. Unconditionally. And we all loved him.
He passed away In November, right before Thanksgiving. I’m convinced he waited for the kids to come home for the holidays, to be with his partners in crime, one more time, before he was ready to succumb to the heart condition he had been fighting. It makes sense that what took him in the end was his great big heart.
I have several friends who have also recently lost their dogs, which seemed kind of odd, until we collectively took a step back and realized that we had all gotten our pets when our kids were in elementary school. And so it made sense that while they were attending college or working right after, that our pets were at the end of their lives.
My family really misses Bailey. All of us, individually and as a family unit. And now that my husband and I are empty nesters, it’s especially quiet in the house. No little Bailey at our heels when we’re walking up the stairs, or opening the backyard doors. And I guess what also makes it especially impactful is that we raised Bailey alongside our children. And now it feels a bit like an exclamation point as their childhoods transform into adulthood.
And that’s okay, even though it’s hard. Because that’s how it goes when you have a family pet. They cannot live forever. But they sure do make the ride that much more meaningful.
Bailey will live on in our hearts and in my Miserable Moms illustrations.
And we will certainly get another dog at some point. It’s a good thing our hearts are big enough to carry the continued love for Bailey we all have, and the love that I know we will have for whatever new dog comes into our lives. Wish me luck, because I will need it, as our new dog and I size each other up, both trying to figure out the best way to train the other.