The Gleeful Gourmand: All Dogs Go To Heaven

Sunday, May 6, 2012

All Dogs Go To Heaven

It’s been another tough week here at The Gleeful Gourmand. I found out last Sunday morning that my wonderful Grandfather, Papa John, had passed away at the age of 94. A few short hours later I found myself at the Emergency Vet Hospital holding our beloved dog Bailey in my arms as she was put to sleep.

To say that it was an emotionally wrought day is an understatement. I cannot bring myself to write anything about my Grandfather – it’s been a full year almost to the week since my Grandmother died, and despite many attempts, I still can’t bring myself to write about her.  Every time I begin, I stop, not because I don’t know the words to say or how to say them, but because it’s too painful. I know it would be the same for my Grandfather. Suffice to say, I loved him very much and will always miss him.

Bailey, on the other hand, is easy to write about. For those who don’t know me personally, Bailey was a miniature longhaired dachshund, and she was 18 years old. Yes, I know that’s a shocking number, even for a small dog (they tend to live longer than big dogs). Bailey came into my husband Buck’s life as a puppy. He still remembers the day in Southern California when he went down to the pet store, looked in the window and saw the tiniest dog he had ever seen frisk over to the window, roll over onto her back, pee, and wag her tail for all she was worth. She stole his heart from that moment on.

Goodbye, Bailey, goodbye.
Bailey didn’t come into my life until much later, when she was already becoming a senior citizen. Eight years ago I found myself falling in love with a man who had a small dog who had no intention of letting the new girl in his life usurp her rightful place as Queen. It didn’t help that I had never had any pets growing up, thanks to my Mom’s severe allergy to pet dander. I loved dogs, but didn’t know the first thing about owning one. I think Bailey sensed that too, and while I found her adorable and lovable, she found me to be a threat. She exerted her dominance by getting amorous with my leg every chance she got. I still laugh every time I think of her little paws gripping my leg as if to say, “I’m in charge here, missy!”

Eventually I learned from Buck how to exert my dominance, and my relationship with Bailey changed. When we got married, and Buck started going to a real office every day (he was previously working out of our home), Bailey and I decided that she was, in fact, my dog, not his. She became my child in every sense. I groomed her, I fed her, I took her outside (but not on walks because she wouldn’t condescend for going on walks after a certain age), played with her, and napped with her.

We loved to take naps together. Whenever I would lie down on the couch, she would immediately get up from wherever she was in the house, and come and stand by until I picked her up and put her on my lap. Sometimes she spent the entire nap on my lap, and other times she would wedge herself between my leg and the cushions. When I became pregnant with Liam, she would still lie on my lap, but she would also twist her head around and lay it on my stomach. I’m convinced that she could hear him. She was listening.

Bailey was very social, loving any and all attention she received, and she was incredible with children. She let them all pull on her ears and harass her to no end, even as she got older still. In fact, the sweetest memory I have of Bailey, and one I will never forget for the rest of my life is one that involves a child. This was when Liam was brand new and I had to get up in the middle of the night to feed him. At that time Bailey hadn’t started having trouble with stairs, so she still slept in her dog bed at the end of our bed. Whenever she heard me get up to feed him, she would get up from her bed and come into the nursery with me. As I sat down to feed him, she would turn around and sit with her back to us, looking out of the door. She was standing sentry.

Liam and Bailey a couple of years ago.
Losing her was incredibly difficult, even though we knew that it was coming for a long time. She had been suffering from seizures for about two years, and they had been gaining in frequency. Between Saturday and Sunday morning she had six. The doctors at the Emergency Vet gave us all the options, but it was clear that most of the options just involved delaying what was inevitable. I’m so thankful that I was able to go and hold her in her favorite pink blanket as she died. I wasn’t able to say all the things I wanted to say to her because I was crying too hard, but I hope in her own way that she knew.

The aftermath this week has been hard. I come into the family room and see her empty bed. I keep looking over at this empty space, expecting her to be there, even though I know she’s gone. I expect to hear her little sighs and groans as she gives up the expensive bed we bought for her to lay on the ground. I expect to see her wandering around, looking for patches of sunlight to lie in. And I know tonight, when I settle down to sleep, I’ll expect to hear her dog collar clink against her ceramic bowl as she goes to get a drink of water. She always did love to snack late at night.

There is an empty place that I can only stare at now where she used to be, where she ought to be, but isn’t. I know I will look for her everywhere in the coming weeks, without even realizing that I’m doing it. I know that I’ll look down at my feet when I’m cooking in the kitchen, watching my step because she loved nothing more than to stand right between our feet when we cooked. I know that in the back of my mind I’ll be waiting to hear her bark at the front door telling me she’s ready to come in from going to the bathroom.

I know that eventually these little phantom reminders will slip away, but our memories of her never will. She truly was the best dog anyone could own. She was my very first pet. She was our little girl. 


Serenalyn said...

Ok, so you totally made me cry! But what sweet memories of a special little dog. She will definitely be missed!

Joel said...

Bailey was always in charge and rightfully so! She was a great little lady and I will always think of her pouncing around all excited when it was snack time! She was a great niece (I mean dog.)

Jenna said...

Thanks you guys - she loved your family so much, and I know going to "Camp Skretvedt" was a big part of her life. I think she and Jake are scampering around together up there somewhere. :)

Kirsten Oliphant said...

Just now catching up and saw this post. I know I've told you, but so sorry for both losses! The way you wrote about Bailey here is just really touching. I think it's much easier to access the emotions toward animals, because they are really simple. We don't have the deep and complex emotions we do with people--though that's not to say our love for pets is not deep. Thanks for writing this! hope you guys are all healing.

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