Brain Smiles

These moments, these very special moments…they make my brain smile

“For many people who are so lost in their minds… the only moments they have, when they are not trapped…is when they are relating to their animal, their pet.” (Eckhart Tolle)

Bailey will be 17 this May, that’s a big number for a terrier/shitzu mix.

We rescued Bailey in 2003 when she was a caged, shivering, two-year-old pooch on the concrete floor of the Hempstead shelter. Her coat was thin, revealing the pink skin of her back but Cheryl thought she was…the one.

So we took her home.

Bailey, after 17 years, is still happy for the most part, she gets around pretty well, she even continues to leap up on our furniture. But her dismounts are so long and hard we fear she’ll break a leg. So recently we’ve provided an assisted living quality to her dismounts. We strategically placed pillows at the off-ramp of our recliners for her to get down in descending plateau fashion.


Bailey's descent steps IMG_0524.jpg

Bailey and her descent platforms.

Bailey has been such a joy to us through the years so we provide her with offers of appreciation in many ways. I’ve counted five Bailey beds in our condo, among them: “pagodas” under two desks, a bed next to the TV, a bedside Bailey bed too.

Recently we temporarily placed her pet carrier on the other side of the TV intending to soon put it back in our garage’s parking space. But Bailey took up residence there as well. So we let her have her “carport”, “caravan”, “gazebo” or “summer place”. Bailey moves from comfort to comfort as she pleases.

Her hearing and sight have significantly decreased. Some days, on winter walks, she limps. She even shows possible dementia involving periods of disorientation.

When I get up in the middle of the night I’m glad to see the gentle rise and fall of her black and white coat. But I have to admit that should I find she has passed in her sleep it would be better than having her…put to sleep.

Many years ago I did take our family’s dog, Hansel to be put to sleep. The vet injected a lead bullet in my own heart that very gray day. As Bruce Cameron said, “When you adopt a dog you have very many good days and one very bad day.” But it’s the smiley sunshine days that a pet brings to us that makes it all worthwhile,

Sometimes Bailey is still very up for life. We rarely walk the half mile or a mile that we used to do so regularly. But sometimes, if it’s not too cold, off we go for a walk around town. When we come to a curb Bailey will leap over it like a pubescent gazelle.


Bailey, a young gazelle, bounds over imaginary barriers

She never did that when she was young. Maybe she can’t tell how high the curb is now so she just flies over it.

Bailey leaps 2 IMG_0569.jpg

When we are homeward bound I can barely keep up. She pulls me along, head-first into the winter winds. There is never any slack in her leash nor her enthusiasm. I’m reminded of my Parris Island days. But now it’s Bailey, not a D.I. shouting, “You call yourself a Marine? Move it maggot!” An onlooker may mumble, “That man has no control over his dog.” I do if I choose to but I choose not to, I let Bailey expend her energy…as she chooses. But now I do restrain her leaps to more gentle hops so she doesn’t hurt herself.

When we get back from her midday walk, and our condo neighbors are at work, I call ahead from the elevator and let our phone ring once. As the elevator rises, I often caress the side of her neck and she pushes her head into my hand.

When we round the turn from the elevator I see Cheryl kneeling at our doorway, iPhone camera at the ready. I release Bailey from her leash and off she tears, knowing a treat in her bowl awaits her.

Note Cheryl’s,”OOOF” when Seventeen-year-old Bailey bursts past her in this video:


Sometimes she runs so fast her back legs seem to run just a bit faster than her front, so from the rear, it appears that her rump is trying to pass her. The action reminds me of times when the young demands of my own nether regions would outrun my cerebral quarters…for a treat of sorts.

The exercise and healthy meals are a big part of Bailey’s longevity. We give her dog kibbles, sure, but Cheryl enhances them. She emulsifies veggies, cooked beef, chicken or turkey in a blender, then puts the mix into ice cube trays. She stores the cubes a freezer bag and when it’s time for Bailey’s meal we microwave a cube, add it to the kibbles and voila…exquisite, canine cuisine.

When I sit in the stillness of the night and watch Bailey softly breathe I realize that one day, one way or another, that breathing will cease. She certainly has been an enrichment to our lives, a real joy. But I know that both Bailey and joy are impermanent…as am I…as is all. But NOW the joy is present and real. All I have to do is honor it with my attention.

When Cheryl comes in from the gym and sees Bailey greeting her, she will drop to the floor, kneel, or even lay down to pet and caress her.

CHeryll Bails and gazebo IMG_0608.jpg

Cheryl, Bailey and Bailey’s Gazebo, background

Knowing Bailey is in the sunset of her life, Cheryl is even more deferential than she’s alway’s been. It’s as if Bailey, in our home…is a sacred cow in India.

Recently Bailey indicated she wanted to sit in the recliner where Cheryl was finishing her morning yogurt, at least that’s how Cheryl interpreted her attempt to climb up. Yup, Cheryl got up and moved onto Bailey’s bed. And I took this shot:

Bailey sacred cow IMG_0784.jpg


Sure, I’ve taken photos of these expressive moments. But when I don’t take a photo and just sit, be there, and absorb what’s going on…it makes my brain smile.

Sometimes I see myself from an inner perspective as if I’m looking at myself, from my…Self. The Self that’s in all of us, the Self that watches what the busy mind does. This perspective helps me to realize the three of us in this moment, a moment so transitory it’s like a cresting wave on this sea of life.

Sure, I know there were waves before it and more will come after it but only this wave, this moment, curling and dancing before me is here now. It’s all there is. It’s all there ever is. It will disappear into life’s ocean due to its impermanence but it’s the impermanence, the brief glimpse of the beauty, is what makes it so precious.

Cheryl DSC_0169.jpg

A smile on my brain

As I typed those last words Bailey’s fur caressed my calf on her way to her pagoda beneath this desk, yes, she really did, and she stepped on my bare foot as she did. So Bailey is personally here in my note to you dear reader, in a pretty serendipitous moment.

Through the years Bailey has helped me to realize I need to live each moment, and not let them scamper unnoticed.

Yes,  moments, they are treasures.

I have lots of stuff in life that I like, this computer, my cameras and lenses, the tools I use to express myself.  But there really is something to be said in, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt…”, because it’s these moments, these precious moments, that are the real treasures. Yes, they make my brain smile.

Bailey for FB 3 .jpg

Be well,

and Happy Birthday, Cheryl,

See also,



6 replies »

  1. Thank you, Linda.

    Yes, dogs, in our case (or for those who prefer, other pets), are at the top of the list of life’s loves. They have unconditional love for us, expressed, not in words but actions, and eyes, and licks…very eloquently.

    Thanks again for your comment, Linda. And enjoy every moment, and all the brain smiles, that Annie and Zoe bring you.



  2. Our girls, Annie and Zoe, will be 8 this spring and even at that age I worry about losing them. They are my joy as Baily is yours. Dogs are, in my opinion, on top of my list for the best things in life.
    I so appreciated your thoughts and words in Brain Smiles.
    Thanks Lee!
    Love, Linda


  3. Bailey girl couldn’t have found a better family to be with than you and Cheryl. She is happily spoiled by you both.


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