We saw an ad in the paper for Boston a Terrier puppies for sale. We'd been together for just over a year and I'd wanted us to get a dog for oh, about a year. We researched what the right breed for us would be. Not a pug, he said, "their eyes fall out and you have to put them back in with a spoon." What?! No! (That has never happened to Maxie, by the way.) So we decided on a Boston Terrier. Good companion dogs - protective, great travelers. Wonderful with children (not that we were going to have any but you know, in case friends ever did).
So we drove up a mountain to where the puppies were and when we got there, I remember feeling like this place was not what I thought it would be. I expected someone's home but this was a large property with multiple buildings and a trailer. I expected to see a litter with their mama. There were tons of cages and Bostons of all sizes. To my horror, we were in a puppy mill. We walked up to an area filled with about six pups, all trying to get to us. There was a little guy who grabbed at our fingers and asserted himself. We were supposed to take him, obviously. He cuddled up to our hands and scratched and nibbled and made those little puppy noises. But in the corner, there was a tiny little thing. She didn't make eye contact. I mean, I don't think she did - her eyes were crossed and she seemed to slouch. She looked like the runt and there was a sadness about her. I remember making a movement towards her and the assertive little guy pounced and tried to climb over her. "No! Not her! ME!" At least, I'm pretty sure that's what he was saying. And in those moments Daniel and I knew she was ours. That we had to take her because no one else would and she would never get to be happy. She needed us. And we quickly paid and got out of there. She sat in my lap on the car ride home. Her tiny little body close against me.
It was March. Either the weekend before or after St. Patrick's Day. We named her Bailey.
Bailey was so quiet and reserved in those first few days. She wouldn't look at us. She didn't smile. I remember thinking there was something wrong with her. Maybe she missed that pushy little guy. Maybe she didn't like us.
But she warmed to us. She started playing with the toys we got her. She wouldn't sleep in her crate, she'd cry and we had to get up with her like she was a baby. We would give in and bring her into our bed and there she would burrow and sleep. She'd push herself between us and try to lay on our shoulders. She snored.
Slowly she showed us more and more of her personality. She loved to run and play tug of war. She had a toy elephant that she loved - over and over again until we had to hide it from her. She smiled - big with wild, happy eyes.
She ate everything. Paper. Books. Shoes. CD's. We had to put gates around the bottom of all our bookcases. She was a basket case who peed when she was nervous, or scared, or happy.
We took her to San Francisco four months after we got her. We booked a pet friendly hotel and the first thing she did was pee on the bed. When we took her out for a bedtime walk downtown, she found herself in the arms of a sweet couple on the way to the theatre or out to dinner. As Daniel spoke to the enthusiastic men, (who seemed to adore Miss B) I watched as she quietly relieved herself on their jacket.
She was a nervous girl, very attached to us. She got stressed and anxious and hated being alone. Her favorite place was next to me, cuddled behind my legs as I sat and typed on my computer. She loved laying in the sun and looking out the window, watching the world go by. The neighborhood cats used to come and sit on our front porch - I am pretty sure they either thought she was one of them or they were taunting her.
We wanted her to be in our wedding, but settled instead on including her picture(s) on our wedding favors.
We dressed her in sweatshirts and t-shirts. We once tried "doggles" to protect her eyes, but they weren't a hit. She was our baby.
When we finally got pregnant with our Zoe, Bailey stuck to me like glue. She loved to lay across my belly and she'd get startled and jump when Zoe would kick out. Bailey once kicked back at my belly and I joked that our two girls would either be best friends or each other's nemesis'.
Bailey loved her kids. She watched over Zoe closely as she napped and played. She was always gentle with her. I remember sitting down one day and realizing she was stretched across me like she used to when I was pregnant with Zoe, so I took a pregnancy test the next morning. I was sure she had sensed another baby and I was right.
Finn was Bailey's boy. She followed him and nudged him along and he adored her. She slept with him from the time he was a toddler until we got her boy a bunk bed. Finn cried when we told him she couldn't sleep with him up high. She was old and blind and we worried she'd fall. From then on, she slept in a little bed under his bunk until we put her in her crate with her Maxie.
Bailey had degenerative disc disease. She was blind. She nearly died a couple years ago and needed emergency surgery to save her because she was eating everything she could find. She was stubborn and strong and even as a senior dog, she offer forgot that she was no longer a puppy and we'd catch her jumping and running and wrestling with Max - teaching him that she was the queen of this house.
Bailey was one of my best friends and I loved her. She was born in an awful place, but she lived a beautiful and long life. She was our girl. She was our mascot and the beginning of us being a family.
We said goodbye to our sweet Bailey today. We didn't wake up thinking today was the day, but as the afternoon continued it became very clear that her brief period of improvement had ended and she wasn't happy. My heart hurts. The house feels different without her here.