WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
May 31, 2017
For the last six months, a little dog has ruled our mountain chalet. Not since the passing of Pandora, our beloved Himalayan cat, has an animal ruled over our home. A week ago, our son Greg, who has been relocating, flew out from Florida to reclaim his Boston Terrier, Bailey.
Now we have our house back and we can once again settle into our own routines. But before memories of Bailey grow dim, I decided to write this blog.
Albert Payson Terhune, whose dog novels warmed my childhood, famously postulated that puppies’ mental state stalls out at two-years of age, and dogs inwardly rarely get any older than that. How true!
Like a two-year-old child, Bailey had only two speeds: on and off–or, perhaps more accurately, Burning Rubber in the Red Zone, and Comatose Dead-Out. With total disregard for our plans for a given day, Bailey demanded breakfast immediately—not even one minute later. After relieving herself, it was Play Time. Time for us to throw her tennis ball. If we ignored her soulful eyes, she would whimper; if that didn’t work, she’d wail. She’d never bark. Impossible to ignore her! So we’d throw her ball until it was too slimy to touch. Not even in the bathroom were we out of range: we’d have to toss the ball down the stairs over and over until she’d finally give up in exhaustion.
And she had no life outside of us. She’d follow us from room to room—especially to the kitchen. No matter how softly I might slip into the pantry, she somehow knew I was attempting to sneak a bite of food into my mouth without giving her any—and she was appalled at my selfishness. If even a crumb dropped from a cracker, it would be devoured before it hit the floor.
She was never a lap-dog; any cuddling had to be on her terms (much as was true with cats that have owned us). But she loved to flop down against us, and was always indignant when we robbed her of our body warmth.
When we took her for a ride, she’d jump up or climb as high as she could so that she’d be able to see everything that came into view. Rarely would she stay still during the ride.
At night, once she was deprived of the tennis ball, she reminded us of a punctured balloon: all the air rushing out of her, leaving her lifelessly limp.
She had an extremely strong sense of “home.” When I took her for a walk, once I turned back toward home, she’d rush me back, in race-mode even before we reached our driveway. When in a car, she’d get more and more excited the closer we got to the house. No chance in the world she could miss our driveway.
But then, Greg flew back from his new place in Florida to get her. Once he came in the door, I was no longer pack leader. Then came the day Greg started packing up. Bailey now became more and more disturbed–whimpering, crying, unable to relax. After he left to get his rental truck, she became more and more frantic: Was he going to leave her again?
So we took her to Pine where Greg was loading the truck from the storage unit. She calmed down, but only a tad. Finally, there came the moment when Greg opened the truck door and heaved her up on the high pillow where she’d be “navigating” all the way across the country. And, finally, we could see her beginning to visibly relax. She was home at last.
After “they” drove off, Bailey without even looking back, I thought of so many things: about Pandora, whenever we’d take a trip and then return, Pandora would often have no voice left: she’d cried her voice out to the extent that not even a vestige of a meow was left. It was after her passing that we’d agreed never again to inflict that tragic separation-anxiety on another pet. Perhaps someday when our wandering days are gone, we might reconsider.
But as for now, we are just left with memories, and marvel at how God is able to pack so much life, so much fidelity, so much intensity, so total a commitment, so strong a sense of “home,” into such a small 14-pound body.
Au revoir, Bailey—until we see you again!