Just less a year ago, our dog Bailey was very sick. We took her to the University of Minnesota for some further testing that determined the lymes disease Bailey had since she was a puppy needed to be treated again, along with addressing her kidney and heart issues. After almost a year of medications, special diet and a few more vet visits, Bailey was mostly doing fine until recently, she showed signs of some issues again. She obviously masked those issues quite well, because on Saturday evening Bailey laid down in the grass, could not move, and was barely breathing. We took her to the animal emergency clinic and determined Bailey was suffering from a large splenic tumor impacting many of her internal organs. Because of the progression of the tumor and impact on vital organs, the decision to put Bailey down was virtually made for us. After saying our goodbyes, her suffering was over and she went to sleep. But, our sadness and emptiness was just beginning. On the lonely drive home in the middle of the night, I reflected on Bailey’s impact on me, our family, and others. She taught and reminded us of some very valuable lessons over the past 8 years.
- Be Caring - Bailey was extremely perceptive of the feelings of those around her and she had an insightful way of trying to make things better with a look in your eyes to say “it's going to be OK.”
- Exercise - Bailey loved to go for walks or runs. Her excitement when she knew a walk or run was about to happen was priceless. Because of Bailey’s love of the outdoors, our family logged numerous miles with her while improving our health at the same time.
- Play - While I regretfully didn’t fully subscribe to this mantra because as we know, there are always work and home responsibilities that just need to get done. I am thankful of Bailey’s continual reminder that work can wait and the importance of play.
- Be Joyful - After a challenging or long day at school or work, Bailey reminded us to leave those frustrations behind. Our day was always made better with her greeting us at the door and saying “I am so happy to see you” with an enthusiastic tail wag (smile).
- Patience - While maybe not a trait of all dogs, Bailey was extremely patient and often put the needs of others ahead of her own needs. She would usually wait by a door until someone let her out and wait to be let back in. She sat by her water and food dish to let us know she was thirsty or hungry and would lay quietly by the foot of our bed until we woke up.
- Saying I'm Sorry - Bailey wasn’t perfect, so there were some times when she made mistakes. Without even saying anything, she would sense our disappointment and say sorry by putting her tail between legs and head down. She had a way of reminding us not to dwell on those mistakes, but rather forgive and move on.
- The Gift of Time - Bailey was the happiest when our family, or anyone for that matter, was spending time with her. I would have loved to have some more time with Bailey and now wished that I would have spent even more time with her. While time is a limited resource, we should be cognizant of how we prioritize our time and find time to spend it with friends, family, loved ones, and yes, even our pets. Having no regrets is the lesson here.
- Unconditional Love - Somewhat related to time, our busy schedules sometimes moved Bailey down on the priority list. She never took exception or was mad, but rather was always happy to see us when we entered the house. What a great lesson. No matter what, Bailey demonstrated her love for us everyday and we, in turn, loved her as a family member and best friend as well.
And, the list of lessons could go on. The memories of Bailey will last a lifetime. I know I am a better person for Bailey being in my life. The best tribute we can give Bailey is to remember and live the life lessons she spent 8 years modeling and teaching us. Thank you for being a wonderful teacher Bailey. Rest easy sweet girl.