Goodbye Bailey…You’ll Be Forever In Our Hearts…

I’ve seen things this week I thought I would never see in my lifetime…about a week ago Bailey stopped eating his food so we figured a flavor choice was all that was needed…to make a long story short…Bailey turned his nose up at everything that we put in front of him…if you’ve ever owned a beagle or are fortunate to have one in your life now, you can imagine our Shock  since there’s not too many things they won’t eat and they will always let you know when it’s time to eat…always…

After a vet visit…a trip to the hospital for an ultrasound…multiple medications for pain from his newly diagnosed ulcer and pancreatitis…Bailey’s was now taking 7 different medications…I wondered if it was us who were actually killing him slowly…Bailey still had no appetite…no longer made an effort to get off his bed to greet anyone who walked in the room…his tail which always gave his happiness away no longer wagged…he just had the soulless and sad look of a dog who had nothing left…he could have been one of the dogs on an ASPCA commercial …it was heartbreaking to see him that way…

Bailey came to us as a puppy and has meant more to our family than we ever imagined he could…over the years he developed relationships with each member of the family…when my daughter came home from school, he never left her side…on nights when my son would fall asleep on the family room floor, Bailey laid next to him…my wife returned from a business trip?…he was first at the door to greet her with the happy tail…it also led to the question, “Why does Bailey always greet me at the door first?”…and when both the kids were at school and my wife was traveling?…Bailey sat with me…of course I also fed him so that probably had something to do with it…

Bailey looked and acted as if he’d given up…the hair on both sides shaved so they could do the ultrasound…he no longer had that signature hound bark…his huge brown eyes Bailey&ducksaw us, but failed to move his happy tail the way they did before…he would only take his food through a syringe we inserted in his mouth…he no longer told us when it was time to go out, walking had become difficult for him, so he mostly used a spot of linoleum flooring in the laundry room…we became so concerned about the direction of his health on Sunday that I stayed with him on the floor of our family room all night…

On Monday Bailey stopped walking altogether…he began panting as if he were gasping for air…we laid Bailey in an over-sized laundry basket cushioned by towels to make carrying him easier and rushed him to the hospital…they wanted to keep Bailey for the next two days to treat him around the clock…the vet who saw him thought he had no more than a 50/50 chance of making it through the night, but we felt we needed to give him that chance…

Sadly…very sadly…today we decided to let Bailey go…he didn’t respond to any treatment from the vet at all, looking weaker than the day before when we dropped him off…they let us take him to a private room where we could spend some time with him and say goodbye…we were happy when he lifted his head to look at us…but within a few minutes he began to moan and it became obvious that he was in extreme pain…Bailey raised his head and looked at each one of us…his pained and saddened look brought us all to tears…and it would be cruel of us to make him stay any longer…his end came fast and with so many more tears…a cruel irony for the simple life of a pet who brought so much happiness into our family…

I had always hoped Bailey would live a pain-free life and one day just pass in his sleep at home with us…he deserved to…it’s terrible to think of what his last week of life was like…the pain…the forced feedings…I often wondered this past week if he grew to mistrust us…

I wanted to post this yesterday, but it became too difficult to write it…as much as Bailey was a family pet, because of all those nights spent by ourselves…his morning walks at breakfast time and his treat and last walk of the night I always gave him…playtime and our wrestling matches for the one true duck he would never give up…he was mine…I was his…and even though this is the morning after, I’m still crying…still mourning his loss…struggling to cope with the fact I’ve lost him and in some ways failed him…he gave us so much happiness, and our lives were forever changed when he was with us…his sudden loss has left a hole in our family…one which will never be filled…

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I’ve written other posts about Bailey in the past…I hope you’ll take the time to read them…

Bailey and Us…I Remember When

Bailey…Our Pet Store Beagle

When Bailey Lays Around the House…

My Best Friend And A Ball Game

Baseball, probably more than any other sport, is constantly promoting the next big give-away day at the ballpark. Teams also have “special events” such as a 4th of July Fireworks show to lure in more fans. As a Phillies fan, one of the biggest events the team has each year is celebrating the Phillie Phanatic’s birthday. Mascots from everywhere show up, some recognizable, some not. This year marked the Phanatic’s 38th birthday in human years, not really sure what that adds up to in Phanatic years, and of course his mom Phoebe was there to help celebrate the big day, along with the Zooper Stars (Ken Giraffey Jr., Shark Mcguire, and the umpire-eating Clammy Sosa).

Unfortunately the Phanatic and I don’t get along ever since he climbed into my car at a public appearance and knocked a box of popcorn out of my hand, (true story) making my then 2-year old daughter cry. Apparently it’s okay for him to unroll that tongue of his in your face, but don’t ever give him a playful slap to the back of his fuzzy green head. He doesn’t like that. Of course my daughter being just 2 got over it, but being somewhat of an adult, I just can’t let it go. 

This month’s Can of Corn Challenge is to write about your favorite give away day that you’ve attended. For the sake of transparency, I’ve never been to a baseball game where something was “given away”. I did almost get a foul ball once, however my friend was able to grab it from underneath of the woman’s seat next to him before I could get to it…

…the ball’s live until it’s in someone’s hands. Beneath someone’s seat doesn’t establish ownership.

That was our rule back then, but to be honest, I always thought he should have given the ball back to her so she could give it to her grandson. Especially since he was sitting right next to her. But, it was the Vet in the late 1970’s after all, a place where manners and common courtesy went to die many deaths.

My choice of games to attend would be one of the newer, more popular event days baseball teams have, an event that is on the schedule of over 20 Major League teams…Bark At The Park.

Dog days, or nights, have become so popular in 2016 that many teams are offering them multiple times during the season. In Arizona, the Diamondbacks have made dogs welcome every Sunday in 2016. The Texas Rangers even combined a bobble head give-away, (for you traditionalists), followed by a post game concert by Cody Johnson. I don’t know who that is since my music knowledge ends at 1990, but I’ll assume he’s a Country & Western singer?

In May this year, the Phillies held their Bark At the Park Day for 300 of our Best Friends and their families. Dogs were encouraged to wear their Phillies gear for the chance to win the Becst In Show contest, and participate in the on-field parade prior to the game. The opportunity to be on a Major League Baseball field was a dream I was encouraged to give up when I was 12. Who would think a 13 inch Beagle would give me the best chance to ever “live that dream” imagesome 40+ years later? Of course, just like my inability to hit a curve ball, his love of a good cheesesteak would make it a challenge to get him by the concession stands in Ashburn Alley and make it on the field for the parade. I know, I know…the Phils are too smart to allow dogs in Ashburn Alley, they prefer them to be on the field. (You can interpret that last statement however you want.)

Bark At the Park Night also helped to raise money and awareness for PAWS (the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) and ARF (Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation). Representatives from PAWS had some adoptable pets on-hand and fans were encouraged to bring much-needed items like food and cleaning supplies.

Maybe someday Bailey and me will make it to a Bark in the Park game because I can’t think of a better way to spend a day with a loyal best friend. 

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Bailey…Our Pet Store Beagle

My family had the great fortune to find our family pet, Bailey, at a pet shop…in the mall. Now I know by the look on your faces, some of you may disapprove of our purchase. I will tell you in this case, your perception doesn’t match our reality. Let me say, this isn’t a post about where people get there pets from, and what is or isn’t right, it’s just about my family’s great fortune to find Bailey.

Looking back at it, I’m sure we paid more than we would have if we had purchased Bailey from a “responsible breeder”. Probably twice as much. A responsible breeder would never place a puppy in a store and pet shops are filled only with puppies born in puppy mills, unhealthy dogs kept in small cages or some would have you believe.

Does that mean these dogs don’t deserve a good home? Of course not. As for Bailey, he was the right dog, for the right family, at the right time. No matter where he came from or how much he cost. If you were to see him on the street, all you would see is a friendly beagle who would love you like family. An instant friend.

Now Bailey came with all the A.K.C. papers. Just like beagles from responsible breeders. He was current on any required shots and all of his paperwork listed not only where he came from, but his lineage as well. Was it all legitimate? While I will admit it mattered when we bought him… it doesn’t matter now. We were more than satisfied that he would be the perfect family pet. And he has been.

One of the great things about Bailey is the relationship he has with each member of the family. My son is more like a den mate, a sibling, equals in every way… brothers. Two straws stirring the same drink.

My wife? Bailey is her constant shadow, following her from room to room during the day, by her side as she works at home. Many a conference call has been interrupted by one of his sudden howls for attention. When she comes home from a trip, he is the first to greet her at the door. Usually before she can get her suitcase in the house. I’m usually asleep in front of the T.V. (don’t judge me, I work hard too).

Bailey absolutely adores my daughter. After college she moved to Florida, but she tries to come up a couple of times a year. From the minute she comes home he is by her side. They couldn’t be happier. And when she turns in for the night, we know just where to find him.

As for me, the so-called “master” of our domain? I’m the hand that feeds him. And he knows it. And since he constantly wants to eat, I see his big brown eyes staring up at me often. I also wrestle with him, usually over his smelly stuffed mallard (he has 4 but will only use 1). One of my lasting images will be of him standing next to me, staring up at me with that mallard in his mouth, daring me to take it from him.Once in a while if he lets me… I even get to win.

Beagles can be great service animals as well as wonderful hunting dogs. Bailey is neither. I have no doubt he could be good at either, we just never trained him. From day one he has always been a family dog, an “inside dog”. Deer and other animals who frequent the yard know they don’t need to worry about him. He will usually regard them with a classic hound greeting when he first sees them, but after that he could care less. One summer morning, while out for a bathroom break, he caught the scent of a rabbit in the yard and was in full chase when he suddenly stopped, remembering why he was outside in the first place. The rabbit got away and Bailey got relieved. Certainly not the great hunter.

I have watched Bailey grow with my kids. After we brought him home we enrolled him, and I guess the kids too, in obedience training (they all needed it) and it gave the kids the chance to learn responsible pet ownership and how to handle our newest member of the family. In turn, Bailey has taught us how to follow schedules…HIS. From how he jumps at the backdoor to go out, to how we know he’s hungry or thirsty by kicking his bowl across the kitchen floor, he has become the great communicator. His loyalty and companionship have gone far beyond what we could have imagined that Saturday in 2003 when we picked him, and him us…at the pet store.

We will be celebrating Bailey’s 13th birthday this year, that’s 74 to me and you. He moves a little slower, sleeps a little more, and his face is a little greyer, just like me. His birthday is July 14th, the same as my wife, so as we enjoy cake, Bailey will be right there with us, staring at us with his big brown eyes ( just like my wife’s) and enjoying his Frosty Paws. He’s certainly earned it.

Let me stop here and include a public service message about choosing the right pet for your family. The following 2 links are from the A.K.C. (American Kennel Club) and the ASPCA and discuss their opinion of responsible breeding, pet ownership, and selecting the pet best for your family. A third opinion comes from P.E.T.A. and says that choosing a pet from anywhere other than an animal shelter is irresponsible. While I understand that position, I don’t agree with it.

https://www.aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-position-statements/position-statement-criteria-responsible-breeding

http://www.akc.org/press-center/facts-stats/responsible-breeders/