Saturday, May 9, 2015

Saying Goodbye is Really Hard: A Tribute to Bailey

Puppy Bailey the first day I met him at the breeder's home.


Well everyone... I have been delaying getting back on the blog because I am dealing with a loss. I think it's time though. I know this is not related to teaching but I know many of you have gone through this and I think it will help me to write about it. About 6 weeks ago I had to say goodbye to my dog, Bailey.



Bailey was a sweet, lovable, goofy St. Bernard who just wanted to snuggle and sleep. He was 9 years old and I knew giant breed dogs don't live as long as other dogs. In 2013 and 2014 he had two serious health scares and I thought that was it but like a phoenix, he bounced back. In fact, in 2014, one Saturday I went to bed thinking that was it and I was going to have to make the decision in the morning, and Sunday morning I called the vet and they were so excited and said he was improving! But Bailey had been diagnosed with hip dysplasia and arthritis and over time, mobility was becoming an issue. Bailey had a ramp to get out of the car. He stopped doing stairs a few years ago but there luckily is an elevator here. I would say it was a slow gradual decline but since about November things have been tougher. He stopped being able to get in the car without help. Now, I can't pick up a 125 pound dog but thank goodness, I found HandicappedPets.com. They had the perfect harness and he could put his front paws up on the floor of the car and gave a little push and I helped him in. He went through many different meds but couldn't stay on many because he had a super sensitive stomach. Regarding that, he also did much better in his last year on a special Royal Canin prescription diet. For the first time he actually loved food and wanted to eat!

Bailey limped the last few years, but it really worsened noticeably the last month. Then one  night he would not relax. He was pacing and panting and could not chill. He has a history of anxiety and a Xanax prescription at the ready and that is what I thought it was. I gave him one and eventually after 3 hours of pacing and all that he settled down. The next night, same thing. The dog walker thought he was acting the same during the day but at night, around 7:30pm (usually his bedtime), same thing. To make a long(or longer) story short, I called the vet after I got home one afternoon and he immediately started this behavior. They were pretty concerned. At that point I was alone and it was almost 6pm and I knew he wouldn't get in the car without a lot of help (I had tried to take him to the groomer a week before and he wasn't cooperative at all and his harness broke so I had ordered a replacement piece). My mom offered to come over anytime but I really thought we needed 3 people. I was also freaking out because it was parent conference time at school and I had 5 conferences the next day. I pretty much had an inkling as to where things were going and I decided to contact my principal and all the parents. I was so stressed about missing conference and causing a problem but I had to make him my priority at that point.  Early the next day I took off school and took him to the vet.

The vet was pretty concerned and even had another doctor come in and evaluate him. They were sure the panting and pacing was because of pain. I think he was actually in so much pain he couldn't lie down comfortably. He had been starting to lie down  and then he would get back up again before he even made it to the floor and that last night he barely slept and lay down all night :(  . It was so sad and there was nothing I could do. The vet talked about a medicine we could try. However, we tried so many with him over the years and almost all of them made him sick. The deal was I could try it. It might help a little but he had progressed so much I wasn't convinced. I could end up back there in a day or two. I started the end-of-life discussion with the vet. I didn't want him to be at home and lie down and not be able to get up again. He was so uncomfortable right then it seemed like the right thing to do.

I was remembering watching the movie Wild with my friend Peggy and then reading the book by Cheryl Strayed afterward and there was a part I had to skip in the book where the mother's horse is ill. Cheryl remembers her mother saying "Do the kindest thing". I think I treat people pretty kindly in life and I wanted to be sure to do the kindest thing for Bailey and not be selfish, trying to keep him going for me.  This is one of the hardest things about your pet getting old, isn't it? Making this decision. You worry, did I wait too long? Did I jump the gun? My vet said a lot of people feel like they may have waited too long. I didn't feel that way and didn't really feel like it was unwarranted.

They got him ready and then when it was time, my mom and I were there and he was kind of hiding by my mom away from the vets - typical Bailey behavior for the vet. She put down a blanket and he just went right over, got on it and laid down, as if telling me "I'm ready".

This dog was with me for almost 10 years, a quarter of my life. We did so much together. He was sweet and patient with children. One time he let my friend's 1 1/2 year old son climb up his back and slide down his stomach. He let his Boston Terrier friend put her whole head in his mouth to take a treat out and didn't even snap, growl or react. I have witnesses! He went to Maine with me and we stayed at the Colony Hotel with my friend Jenney and hung out by the pool. He broke a lounge chair but that is another story. Oops! Bailey was also always kind of a nervous guy and I thought he would relax over time but he got worse. He really didn't like meeting new men when we were outside, although he didn't mind repairmen in the house. Once he couldn't tell it was my brother walking up when we were on the lawn and he growled at him. Then 5 seconds later when Ryan said, "Hey Bailey!" he was so happy to see him.

Bailey loved my mom and stepdad. He got the best ear rubs from Bob and my mom was his "person" when he stayed there. My brother played the best tug of war-granted Bailey was the laziest tug of war player ever! My dad gave him lots of love of attention and really lived for his visits. My good friend Cheryl and my friend Jenney also watched him when I was away. He came to school a few times, he had a keg he wore on holidays, he let me put goofy headbands and stuff on him, he snored like mad and slept like a champion. He kicked so hard sometimes in his sleep I thought he would knock the furniture over. He shed like a madman - hello "Furricane" and drooled like Niagra Falls. I actually found dried drool flung onto the ceiling. He had nosebleeds from a rare condition, and got his beds really dirty but somehow always looked so clean. He loved to rub his head against furniture, corners and your legs and when you pet him, he leaned against you so hard he almost knocked you over. His tail should have been classified as a dangerous weapon.

He was a good boy and a really big boy and his passing leaves a very big hole in my heart. This blog post is my tribute to the best dog ever! Thanks Bailey for being a wonderful doggie companion and making my life so much fun and so much better than it ever would have been!

Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Bailey and I in 2008. That tongue was crazy!

Puppy Bailey collage including Bailey with my brother and meeting his St. Bernard "cousin" Pete (my aunt and uncle's dog)

Big boy Bailey! He loved to hang with Oz, my cousin's Great Dane. Bailey could be counted on to have something funny on for Christmas, and he always managed to get into weird situations, stuck in cords, sheets, curtains, and behind furniture.


I have gotten so much love and support from so many people and I am so grateful! Thank you!


Side note: For some reason, this song helps me. It's "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa with Charlie Huth. I know it was really written for Paul Walker and Fast and Furious 7 and not a doggie, but I like it. Enjoy!





13 comments:

  1. Bex-I couldn't sleep, so I hopped on Bloglovin. I loved reading your reflections of Bailey. Reminded me a lot of our dog, Shadow. I know you will always treasures these memories, and I hope another dog is in your future. Furbabies are so special. Our dog Molly has been such a treasure, and Shadow, aka Hoodini, well, he just makes me laugh thinking about him and his antics. Hugs to you as you grieve the loss of your big guy.
    Carla

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Carla. I really appreciate the kind words and the support. It means a lot. I know I will have another doggie at some point. Sounds like Shadow was a really special pup. Sending you a hug!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing Bailey's story. As a dog lover, our dogs are definitely an important part of our families. I feel your loss. Sandy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandy, thank you. Yes they sure are. It's a process, right?
      Hugs!

      Delete
  3. Thank you for sharing. I'm so sorry for your loss. My lab faced the same issues, and we had to send him to the Rainbow Bridge in 2003. I hope that you find peace and comfort soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tonya, thanks for your comments. I really appreciate that you took time to do that!
      Bex

      Delete
  4. My heart and soul go out to for the loss of your love, Bailey. I remember making this decision with our baby, Biscit. I cried for months, but now the memories comfort me. Your tribute brought tears to my eyes. I pray you find comfort in knowing that this was an act of love and kindness. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Janine. It does comfort me to know he is not in pain anymore. It's still tough, though. Sending you a hug for you and Biscuit!
      Bex

      Delete
  5. So sorry for your loss. I do know how a pet is a family member. I have lost a few pets in my lifetime, and each was is just as difficult. Thank you for sharing your memories of Bailey. I pray you find comfort in your grief process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Toni! I am feeling better. Writing this post really was therapeutic and thank you for taking the time to read it and comment.

      Delete
  6. Hi Bex,
    I was just checking out your blog and got caught up reading this post. I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is one of the hardest things in life, next to losing a loved one. They ARE practically loved ones! I know you will be glad that you wrote this post, as you will look back at it years from now knowing you gave Bailey a lasting tribute!
    God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ashley. I didn't see your comment until recently but I am REALLY grateful l you stopped by and shared your thoughts! Thank you!
      Bex

      Delete
    2. Thanks Ashley. I didn't see your comment until recently but I am REALLY grateful l you stopped by and shared your thoughts! Thank you!
      Bex

      Delete