Yesterday Heaven got a new dog. My dog, Bailey. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
She was given lots of treats yesterday. There were dog cannolis, squirrel shaped cookies, and dog bones given to her throughout the day. She got her belly rubbed and behind her ears scratched. The collar was taken off and Bailey got scratched where we usually couldn’t reach underneath her collar. She even got to lay on the couch (something she wasn’t normally allowed to do). She looked up at us, tail wagging and tongue hanging from the side. The tumor enveloping her lower jaw and pushing out her teeth was painfully obvious. I knew that it had to be done.
Each family member got to whisper sweet things to her and love on her. Our other dog, Striker, napped by her side and wherever she went he followed. When 5 p.m. came along my mom and I piled into the truck with my grandpa and Bailey. My little sister scream cried as she left the house, unable to deal with the fact that Bailey had to go.
As we left the house, the concept of what was happening became real for me. God I wanted to cry. My baby had cancer, but she was still happy. She could still eat treats in the back of her mouth, but I knew that if we didn’t do something about it she’d get so much worse.
When we went got into the vet they already had a room ready for her. There was a flower-print blanket on the floor for us to sit with her. The vet came in. Bailey wouldn’t let him stick a needle in her paw so we all had to hold her down as he sedated her in the rear. She yelped and whined. I cried. I stood up and gave her a couple of treats from the jar on the counter. She happily accepted them before she began to shake and lose her balance.
My mom and I laid her on her side and whispered sweet words to her as she slept. The vet put the catheter in and injected the medication. I was beginning to shake and bawl at this point. She stiffened in her sleep and then relaxed. The vet warned us that she might twitch after she had passed as the sedative and the other medication reacted in her that way.
He leaned over after a moment or two and spoke the words that broke my heart: “She’s gone.”
I leaned down to kiss her head and hold her paw. She gasped. I couldn’t control my tears as my mom and the vet rapidly assured me that she was dead and it was an involuntary reaction. It happened two more times and I lost a little bit of myself each time. Then she stilled.
The odd thing about dogs when they die is that their eyes don’t close. I cried and held my dog. I couldn’t comprehend that the sweet pup that had pulled me out of my depression before and was the reason for so many decisions was gone. I petted her body, telling her how much I loved her, and trying to remind myself that we did the right thing.
My dog was gone. I felt the heat begin to fade from her body and we left. I cried in the back seat on the way home. I went outside with the whiskey and honored her in the oldest tradition I’d heard of. I poured a shot whispering, “Hail the victorious dead” and poured in the grass.
I poured a shot for myself and tried to take it. I threw it back up immediately and cried (I can’t take shots of whiskey). I wiped my tears quickly knowing my family was waiting for me back in the kitchen. I went back in and poured myself a drink.
Goodbye my sweet Bailey. You will forever be missed. You were the first big dog I ever had and one of the reasons I fought to have a relationship with my dad. You were my cuddle buddy during thunderstorms and the first face I saw when I woke up and opened my door each morning. You were the protector of my siblings when they were babies and you were my teddy bear when life got me down. You were my walking buddy, my hiking companion, and my four legged vacuum when I spilled food. You ate everything you saw, albeit cigars, pizza, medication, and yet you always managed to survive. You made me so angry yet you were the sunshine of my life and had the key to my heart. You got sick with mouth cancer and it spread to your brain. I didn’t want you to hurt anymore and I didn’t want you to suffer worse than you already were. I love you, I love you, I love you. You were my Bailey bug, my Bailey girl.
Goodbye sweet girl. You will not be forgotten.