Our 13-year-old puppy, Bailey, exudes loving kindness. He’s also very cute – it says so right on his latest and greatest t-shirt – “I’m cute”.
Yes, it is a little bizarre for a golden retriever to wear a t-shirt. However, it is even more bizarre that his t-shirt serves as a bra, or as I like to call it: a “bro” (from one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes).
The “bro” became a wardrobe staple for Bailey a few months ago when the vet suggested that he wear a t-shirt because the tumor on his chest had grown so much and needed some support. Because Bailey is a “senior” dog and the tumor has grown between muscle, tendons, and is filled with blood vessels, removing it was just too risky. Providing support and keeping him as comfortable as possible is what we were told to do.
And so we listened to the vet’s advice and followed Bailey’s lead…
The first time Dave and I saw Bailey, we fell in love with the fuzzy little puppy. He came home with us on Christmas Eve – what a gift! Our very first baby, Bailey would lie in my lap as I rubbed his tummy, tickled underneath his chin and cooed, “Who’s a pretty baby?!” We invited friends and family to see our new “baby” and he pretty much captured their hearts too. Despite the uncontrollable sneezing, eyes watering and almost swelling shut, even our friends with terrible allergies still visited and pet him saying, “It’s okay because he’s so, so (ATCHOO!) adorable!”
Bailey taught me that there is joy in the most unexpected, simplest things.
He’s been there for us since the beginning…about 1 year into our marriage. He was the first one to learn that I was pregnant, and the first one to console me when we lost that pregnancy. He was also right there when I learned that I was pregnant with Emma. When I sat on the stairs in surprise, excitement and FEAR, he quickly tried to comfort me. For Bailey, consoling and comforting meant nudging my arm with his cold, wet nose until I finally pet him. My heart rate immediately slowed down.
Bailey taught me the simple, yet important lesson that making someone else feel better when you feel sad, makes you feel better too.
When Emma was born and cried NON-STOP for three months, Bailey stood guard over her bassinet, crib, baby swing and car seat.
I think he felt just as bad as I did that we couldn’t stop her crying. When he wasn’t standing over her, he could be found next to me. We would both look over at the crib and he would gently nudge me with the cold, wet nose.
Bailey taught me that misery really does like company.
When my mom and step-father, “Papa John”, would come over, they would literally run over us to get to Bailey. When we saw them just before our big move to Connecticut, my mom hugged me and sobbed, “Oh honey…I’m going to miss BAILEY so much!” The last time she visited and I was taking pictures, Mom asked if her “granddog” Bailey could be next to her in the picture. In fact, he already was as he didn’t leave her side that entire visit, which was the last time any of us ever saw her again.
Bailey taught me the importance of being loyal and present.
These days, Bailey’s a little slow…slow to get up, slow to hear things…just slow. No doubt about it, it’s just plain hard to get old. When he is up, he walks around looking like he’s had a partial boob job, which is funny but a little sad too. He still walks around the kitchen while his little sister, Jane, balances dog toys on his head. He lets her go first when we open the door to let them both outside. Bailey now refuses to eat unless there a “chicken meatball” to spice up his dry food. Just like his “Uncle” Blarney did many years ago, he also pretends to shiver to get extra treats and it works every time too. (I mean, have you ever seen a dog shiver with chattering teeth and all? It’s sooooo cute!) The vet just smiled when I told him and agreed that he’s earned every single treat.
It’s no surprise that the tumor is right over his heart and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. Because Bailey has always had the biggest heart.
So, we continue to keep each other as comfortable as possible and the “bro” supports us all.