Today is Bailey’s birthday. She’s 42.
Well, in dog years, anyway.
Bailey joined our family in 2002. I’d grown up with dogs but had never had MY OWN DOG, and Frank had never had a dog at all, so we figured we should get a dog of a breed with a reputation to be ‘easier’, as far as dogs go. We went back and forth and decided on a golden retriever. It seemed like a safe choice – smart, easy to train, good with kids.
I wanted to put a puppy picture here, but most of our pictures are in storage, and back then I was film-only. So this is the best puppy picture I can offer for now. The big black dog was my Grandpa Bill’s dog, Rocky.
Dog ownership has had its trying moments. Like for the while when we couldn’t figure out how to stop Bailey from jumping. (Somehow we got the idea to cross our arms, look up and ignore her, and it’s like magic!) Like when she had a spate of urinary tract infections – let me tell you, it is not fun trying to get a urine sample from a dog (but a pie tin, slid under at the right moment, works well enough). I lost more than one pair of beloved shoes to her puppy teething phase. And, as retrievers tend to be, Bailey certainly has her share of dependency affection and hyperactivity exuberance and destructiveness energy, but nothing anyone could call abnormal for a golden. She brought a bit of chaos to our generally quiet and predictable lives, and our days were better for it.
This is Frank and my brother, Mark.
But she has been a great dog. She is really smart, and was a cinch to housetrain. With just a bit of work she learned a lot of other useful stuff too, like sitting and staying and crating up. She’s a great dog for car trips, she isn’t at all anxious in the car, and stays relaxed throughout the trip (with occasional bouts of excitement to be going somewhere).
And then the kids came along, and she has proven her great-dog-ness in spades. In her they have a playmate, a jungle gym, a pony, a confidant, a partner in crime, a pillow, a teddy bear, and a guardian all in one big, furry package. She tolerates every bit of toy stealing and ear pulling and being sat on and and stepped on and laid on and jumped on with the patience of a saint, and still all she asks for return is an occasional cuddle and bowl of food.
With Lane when she was a week old.
With Lane last month.
As fitting for a family member, we will celebrate her birthday in a small way. We ordered her this ‘cake’ – it was Lane’s idea. She picked out the design, too.
Yes, I know, it’s a cat – there was a dog picture in the flyer right next to it. I even pointed it out and said “Don’t you think a dog picture would be more fitting? Bailey’s a dog, after all.” Lane said, “Yeah, but she likes cats too – like I like cats!” I couldn’t really argue with that logic. So, tonight after dinner, we’ll all have a piece of cookie cake and we’ll toast Bailey’s health.
So, Happy Birthday, Bailey! And thank you, for being a great dog. I hope we have the pleasure of your company for another six years.