1) If you love dogs, you really can’t own them.
2) Dogs, maybe other pets too, have ESP.
My mind is stuck in the last hour of traffic from which I just escaped, drivers cutting each other off, angry motorists horn-scolding each other. THEN, I’m thinking of getting my taxes done tomorrow…and I’m hungry…and I’m tired. But I open the door and all at once my face muscles relax, my frown-furrows melt. The tail wagging before me like a furry fan blows my cares right out the door behind me. And I grin all over the moment.
Our pet, Bailey, wags so energetically her whole body becomes one big wag.
You can add all the bonsais and Boston ferns to your home that you’d like, but nothing makes it homier than the beating heart of a pet. And for us, that’s a dog.
You don’t really own a dog, you share life with a dog. A home without a dog is like a home without electricity. And when a dog is in your life, your life lights up…simple as that.
We rescued Bailey from the Hempstead, NY shelter: http://toh.li/animal-shelter in 2003. Cheryl found her there as available for adoption. We scooted over and checked out all the pooches in residence. Most were all kinds of large dogs.
But there, at the end of this long line of caged candidates was this little black and white shivering bundle. She looked scrawny to me as she did her Don Knots quiver and I could see pink skin through the thin fur on her back. And she seemed to be missing fur on her legs.
Our “Bailee” in need of rehabilitation.
“Doesn’t look too good to me,” I said. But Cheryl, the more knowledgeable and wiser about beings, canine, thought this one was fine. Just needed a little TLC. So we signed up for her.
The apparent Shih Tzu-Terrier mix was picked up by the shelter with an owner-ID tag and since there was no response to phone messages or knocks and notes at the door, a registered letter had to be sent by them. That meant an 11 day wait for us. A line of others signed up behind us to adopt if we didn’t show up on time.
But we did. And in the shelter parking lot we met a lady from PAWS: http://www.paws-li.org who told us about the care of newly adopted dogs. During the conversation she said, “Suppose, let’s say,” as she pointed, “Bailey, we’ll call her…”. We didn’t know it at the time but the name would stick.
Cheryl with Bailey upon her bailout.
Cheryl and I had met at the Bail window of the Nassau County Jail where she worked when I bailed out pre-trial detainees for EAC’s Non Profit Bail Bond project. We realized that our removing this pooch from the shelter would make her our “Bailee”, hence Bailey, the unwitting christening by the PAWS lady stuck.
At home she was a frightened two-year-old pup that wouldn’t move and wouldn’t eat. After one overnight stay at the animal hospital and $282 later, thank you very much, we found out it was just stress. We were to feed her baby food to prime her pump. She soon recovered, grew healthy and strong with a rich full coat.
Fully recovered Bailey with her white “ermine” mane.
The young coquette, “I’m such an adorable pet.”
We lived in a private house with a big yard at the time and Bailey loved to chase squirrels up trees and over fences.
And at the front window she kept the Mail Carrier on notice.
But we later wanted to buy a condo apartment. Bailey had to pass the pet committee ”interview” to see her size and demeanor. She was only 11 pounds and loved people.
She was powder-puff-groomed for her audition but it was raining and we needed to walk her first. So there I was walking the streets of Long Beach holding an umbrella above her, not me, like some addled soul. I expected the cops and an ambulance to haul my pathetic ass away but she passed her audition and we were in.
We walk Bailey three times daily, twenty to thirty minutes usually, twice in bad weather. And in winter, yeah, it’s tough. Bailey wears snow boots sometimes but they slip off easily. When feasible we just put on a balm, Musher’s Secret, to protect her from ice and salt. We didn’t want her to lick the salt and chemicals off her paws upon return but she hated the ritual of a bathroom paw wash by Cheryl. But when she learned that she got a treat after such an injustice she now sits patiently by the bathroom door waiting for her wash.
Her new sheepskin, tags still attached: “I’m supposed to walk in this?”
But she did enjoy breaking it in.
There is a strong bond within our pack, we are family. When one of us is missing the others feel it, especially Bailey. Often, when I’m gone, our faithful companion waits patiently by the door for my return. That’s family! Can you really own a family member?
Bailey awaits my return.
Dogs are prohibited from the beaches of Long Beach, NY and it is understandable. The way some people leave dog mess on the sidewalks and lawns is it any wonder city residents want them off the beach. Non compliance in poop pick up in our city should require community service in said activity. Violators would learn, it’s really no big deal.
But I admit that on mid winter beach-barren days we have taken Bailey for a sand or snow run.
We shared a Nor’Easter, two snouts to the wind.
And a cold sunny day when nobody was around.
I’d rather pay a fine than have her live a life without ever running the soft sand and tasting the salty mist that I’ve come to love. My last dog, Hanzel, a Schnauzer, lived a life without ever knowing that pleasure of life on Earth, and I regret it. The dog ban needs to be waived in winter months. But pick up rules still rule.
Bailey doesn’t shed so we allow her on the furniture but not on the bed. But we have come home to surprise Bailey and discovered a comma shaped depression, warm to the touch, on the bedspread. Other than that she’s always had free choice of seating.
The sign on our front door: “If you want the best seat in the house, you’ll have to move the dog.”
Bailey, “She’s in my seat.”
When she’s on my recliner footrest, and her back is not touching my calf, she squiggles back to make contact. When she moves away in her sleep, I sometimes slide my leg over to make contact with her back. It makes for a better dream I reason.
My recliner companion likes to snooze with me even with a soft bed right next to the TV.
We don’t feed Bailey from the table but she knows we have a contract: She doesn’t beg and when I finish eating, I put a scrap into her dish. And if I ever forget, her barrister, Cheryl is there to call my attention to the contractual lapse.
One morning I was reading a book on meditation. “Along the Path to Enlightenment” by Hawkins. It spoke about being present and getting the most out of the day. I held the book in one hand, petting Bailey with the other. But whenever I’d stop petting she’d paw the back of my book hand. Finally, she licked it a couple of times and I surrendered.
I stopped reading, and just sat with her watching the rising sun glowing against the clouds and listened to the cries of the swooping gulls. I was very much in the moment. Then I realized, Bailey was teaching me more about being present than the book could ever do.
The guru teaches the slow-learning student.
There have been mysterious senses attributed to dogs through the years. I heard of dogs sensing the arrival of their owner still blocks away from home and would signal to those present the imminent arrival.
Bailey displays such ESP: She doesn’t care for most pooches she meets, but it delights us when she comes upon one or two she does. Koko is such a dog. Bailey adores Koko and will emit a pleading whine whenever she comes upon Koko on a walk. But she seems to know when Koko is anywhere near too…and at times it’s scary.
Our condo is up on the sixth floor but one day Bailey started whining for no reason. I went out on the terrace and looked down in the street and there was Koko. I attributed it to Bailey’s superior sense of smell. But another day it happened again, this time the doors and windows were closed. I looked down to the street and there was Koko…again. A landscaper running his leaf blower was below too so it couldn’t have been ID tag jingles she heard either. And no, she has never whined or made any sounds at a leaf blower below us before. Confounding, isn’t it?
Koko looks up at Bailey. A meeting of minds?
Bailey Doodle Dandy on her terrace perch overlooking Long Beach on the Fourth of July. She HATES the fireworks that can reverberate all night long!
Cheryl thinks it’s funny that I lie about Bailey’s age. She’s 14 now but when neighbors in the elevator ask how old she is I lie. I say she’s twelve. I learned that when I had said, “13″ there was a, “Ohh, she’s so sweet.” But the “Ohhh.” was a bit too long, with a tone of sadness I thought. It’s as if… So she’s forever twelve now.
On the elevator heading out for a walk. She sneezes when she is happily excited, like when she’s going for a walk, WITHOUT a coat.
When my last dog, Hanzel had to be put down I took him to the vet. I felt I needed to stay with him to tell my girls I saw him go peacefully. But I was also there for Hanzel’s sake, so he wouldn’t be frightened. It was one of the most difficult days of my life.
I held his chin in my hand as the injection was applied. I felt the incredibly gentle weight of his head sinking into my palm as he relaxed into eternity. A weight I will feel forever.
I wasn’t fit to return home right away so I went to the marina to watch boats and birds, white clouds and blue sky. But the birds and boats were of lead and the sky a blue shroud. I stayed until I was better composed.
It’s important to fully realize the presence of those with whom we share this life, human and human-support alike. It’s so easy to take them for granted. Bailey is a part of our every day life, we rarely go anywhere without her, and we value every minute of it.
She gets a break from her carrier.
A walk on a sunny Sarasota street.
Angel Oak in NC.
Bailey stalks a ceramic cat in Pennsylvania.
A Long Island Railroad train ride to NYC
Sharing a stool at a Manhattan bar. Bailey likes a Jack Russell and coke.
On a Long Beach, NY walk.
Bailey posts to Friends on Snoutbook, Pooch-Sta-Gram, Poogle Plus and Licked-in.
And her love is right on the nose.
Our family dogs are vessels of unconditional love, love they are so eager to share with us. They bounce, they bark, they wag their way into our hearts. All we can do…all we need to do…is to give it back to them.
Yes, when you come home and see a wagging tail before you, you see poetry in emotion. And it just blows you away.