I’ve always judged people by how they reacted to Bailey, whether they were walking into my house or passing me by on the street. If you were capable of showing any level of indifference to my happy, little 4 1/2 lb Yorkie who just wanted to love you, then you were not welcome in my life.
Bailey was the best dog in the world. He was, without a doubt, the man of my life. If I had a bad day at work, or was sick with the flu, or crying from a broken heart, he was always the guy beside me showing me that he cares. Whether it was one of his infamous stares while standing on my lap, or just a tiny warm body snuggled into me, he never ever failed me. That’s the incredible thing about dogs – if you give them love, they will repay you a thousand fold with an unconditional love and devotion that simply cannot be measured.
My little man was a canine of routine. After almost 12 years with each other, we had the whole thing figured out. Every night he’d stand in the same spot beside my bed waiting for me to lift him up into it before I crawled in. Every time his feet hit the duvet, he’d bounce around like a neurotic rabbit, find that special place, dig furiously into it and then drop himself in with a huge sigh. Every weekday morning, he’d sleep through my alarm clock, stir slightly when I dragged my ass out of bed, but refused to make any motion until he heard me come out of the shower. Every evening he’d greet me with leaps of joy, all the while barking like a mad fool. And on the weekends, we’d sleep in with each other. If I sat on a chair, he was on my lap. If I laid on the couch, he was laying on me. If I got up, he followed me. When I used the bathroom, he sat outside the door. It didn’t matter what I did or where I went in the house, Bailey was always with me…always keeping a watchful eye on me….always showing me how much he loved me.
On Sunday May 22, our lives took a tragic turn when he was hit and killed by a car with a driver that took enough time to slow down and assess the situation, but without enough compassion to stop. As I bent over Bailey in the middle of the road, afraid to move him, all I saw was the fear in his eyes. This has become the most heart shattering moment of my life to date. I’ve been told the traffic was stopped in all directions, people were out of their cars, neighbours were standing outside their houses, people were lined along the sidewalks, some were calling the police reporting the driver, others were running for blankets to wrap him in.
I didn’t see any of it.
The only thing I saw was my little guy lying underneath me. And the only thing that mattered in that moment was for him to know how much I loved him.
Then the earth opened up and swallowed me.
And all I heard was my screaming. And all I felt were arms tightly wrapping around me. And all I knew was Bailey, whom I’ve loved so deeply for 12 years – who was well and alive 2 minutes ago in my arms – now lay dead in my arms.
I will never understand why he decided to cross the street, because Bailey was the kind of dog who knew not to cross streets, regardless of who or what was over there. I very rarely had to leash him on walks and was comfortable strolling down busy streets like Queen without a worry in the world that he would leave my side. I guess he just wanted to say hi to that little dog on the other side, and I will never shake the guilt I feel in not watching him closer than I did in that minute.
So this is a letter to my little man, Bailey….
Your little feet pattering across the floors. Your bark, your late night sighs and the way you always nestled into me. The way you hated getting baths, and how you loved to finally free yourself of the towel and drag your body across the area rugs. How you barked when I asked you if you loved me, and how you reacted when I’d point at myself and ask who loved you. The way you bounced around in front of me from side to side as we walked into the kitchen to get you a treat. How you wrestled with the cat, and then curled up with her afterward for a nap. How you hated your feet being touched, and the many times we’d turn tapping them into a game. How well you begged when something was worth begging for. The way you looked at me when I brushed you. How you loved the heat of the fireplace, and how you squealed when someone got too close to you who wasn’t paying attention to where they were going – your little warning that they might step on you. Your aggressive bark followed by your stop, drop and roll tactic whenever a dog came near you. The way you adored cats and could never understand why some didn’t reciprocate this love. How you’d stand just slightly out of view when people were eating, because you knew you weren’t allowed in the room during these times. And oh, how you loved your tummy rubbed. The way your little body would consume 80% of my bed, leaving me hanging off the edge. The spring months when I’d shave you down for the summer, and then struggle to keep your hair free of knots as it grew longer into the colder season. Those times when I’d have to run outside in my robe and slippers to grab you in the dead of winter because your little body froze in the cold and you couldn’t finish your pee. The funny way you walked in your booties, and how you would stop and stand motionless when the hood of your parka flipped onto your head. The noises you would make while dreaming in the middle of the night. How much you hated getting your photo taken. Your protective nature. How disheveled you were when you were woken before being ready to wake. The way you would greet me when I got home and those rare times when you decided something was worthy of ripping the garbage apart. How you followed me around the house. The way your hind legs moved as you went down the stairs. How much you loved me, even with all of my faults and imperfections. How much I love you, and how unbelievably sorry I am for not being able to save you.
This is written, saturated in tears. Words cannot describe how heartbroken I am, and even though I don’t believe in heaven or hell, I want to believe that my Bailey is running around with Catharine’s Bailey, and playing on the bed with Nancy in some place better than here. I know it sounds silly and contradictory, but holding that hope is the only thing that seems to bring me comfort.
For all my friends and my family, and the people who exist in my social media circles, I thank you for all your kind words and support. For all the caring and concerned folks who stopped on the road, or came out of their houses to help, I am so appreciative. For Kat, a complete stranger who dropped by the house later that night to check up on me – I’m so happy to have made a new friend in you. You exemplify altruism.
And for Shelby, my sweet darling daughter who has shown such strength while watching her mom crumble into an emotional basketcase, I appreciate and love you more than life itself. The way you have cared for me these past few days leaves my heart bursting with pride.
If there is one thing to learn, it is that life is unpredictable. Appreciate and love everyone as if it’s the last day you will see them.
Gone, but never forgotten. Always in our hearts, my little prince.