I had no business getting a six-week old puppy. The 100-year-old looking lady had about 7 puppies in her cart and was selling them for $25 on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. In her broken English she told me she had a black one at home. I wanted a black one. She had seven tan ones.
“I’ll be back, she said. I live on 17th and Meridian.”
I waited. I waited. I got that knot in my stomach that told me that maybe I should reconsider.
What would my roommate say?
I waited some more then realized that her absence could be a sign. Either that or she was a little tired walking back to her house with a cart full of puppies.
So that was it. A sign. Not meant to be.
Or was it?
I passed a hostess at a restaurant holding this cute little tan puppy.
“Did you get that from the Spanish lady with the cart?” I said.
“Yes, but my friend bought him for $25 and left him with me. I can’t hold him any longer. I will get in trouble with my job. Do you want him for $20?” she said.
Well, I certainly wasn’t one to pass up a good deal.
“Ok,” I said with the knot coming back.
What have I done?
Little did I know that this tiny little puppy would grow up to be a 70lb dog.
Like I said, I had no business getting a puppy. I worked all night in bars. Slept all day.
But I would later find out that he was put in my life for a purpose.
When I took him to the vet, I found out that he was a mixed breed that was not very safe to have around children. I didn’t have children. Nor did I have friends who had children.
Would I have children? I doubt it.
I was happy with my little family.
Bailey became my best friend. He was my confident, my brother, my son, my mother, my father, my drinking partner, my everything. He went with me everywhere I could take him, including bars. I’d stuff him in my Adidas backpack and roller blade around Miami Beach.
It pains me to say that although I loved him more than life itself, I was not the greatest dog owner. How these two statements make sense, I don’t know. I was irresponsible, selfish and living out the story of my life. He needed to be out running all his energy off. He needed to live in a house or farm, not a tiny apartment cramped with two cats. But he was loved. He was loved. He was so loved. But my love couldn’t stop him from being unpredictable.
The first time I knew something was wrong was when I took him to Lincoln Rd. for a walk and we passed a little girl who squealed and alarmed him. He snapped at her.
The second time I knew he was aggressive was when he killed a possum and a cat that was sitting on our window sill for days.
Aggressive? Or just being an animal?
I still don’t know.
The third time I knew we had an issue was when he bit a kid rushing by him on a walk.
The fourth time I found out he bit a child twice while I was in Europe. This was on Valentine’s day, which is significant to me now. I paid a dog sitter to watch him and asked her to walk him away from other dogs and children. I had her sign a contract promising to walk him on the outskirts of the complex.
I got a phone call from animal control while I was in Europe. He had bit a child twice on two separate occasions.
How does that happen? I thought.
After the child jumped in the middle of a dog fight with a dog that was off a leash, Bailey bit him in the tummy. The second time, the mother came over with her son to speak to the dog sitter about the situation and the boy started jumping up and down. Bailey bit him in the face.
I got a lawyer.
I paid the sitter, regrettably. I got a behaviorist for Bailey and started working with him. The lawyer said to put him down. The behaviorist said there was nothing wrong and that Bailey just needed structure. So he gave me training techniques and exercises to do with Bailey along with a huge dent in my wallet.
I wasn’t giving up on Bailey. I blamed myself. I looked for farms for him. I looked for other options. Yes, maybe he needed to be somewhere else but I wasn’t putting him down. I wasn’t terminating his life. He was a happy dog. He loved my cats and there was no way I was doing it.
At that point I was dating my now husband, who wasn’t a fan of big dogs as he had been attacked in France. But he loved me so much, he watched Cesar Milan videos with me. He decided to become best friends with Bailey, as much as he didn’t want to. We fought over how much attention I gave to Bailey. But he didn’t give up on me or Bailey.
We got married and moved far away.
It would be different this time, I thought.
We had a big house. We had a yard. Bailey went on long walks daily. Everything would be different. He loved our house but spent all his time laying at my husband’s feet while he worked in his office.
But he was getting older. His hips were sore. He was temperamental. We couldn’t have visitors because he was unpredictable and would snap at people that pet him on the head. I couldn’t even get his shots done without sedating him because he became aggressive. So we put him on Prozac. He did well. He was very receptive to the combination of Prozac and training. But for some reason, I stopped giving it to him. I can’t remember why.
I started going taking classes at University and by now had left the bar scene. I had a job in retail that paid pretty well and was content on getting my degree.
Then one day, I got the call. My husband said he was done. Bailey had gone for him. It was time.
But that was never an option for me. I cried. This can’t be happening.
I Had to Choose Between my Husband and my Dog
I can’t choose between my husband and my dog. I just can’t.
My husband could never understand my love for Bailey. He wasn’t there when I went through my growing pains when I was living on Miami Beach. Bailey never failed me. He loved me unconditionally. He never bit me. I could kiss him on the mouth. I never for one minute felt threatened by him. I couldn’t think of all the reasons why it was a good idea.
I was tired. I was frustrated. It was a full time job trying to save my dog. He taught me so much patience and tolerance. It was so much work. And I couldn’t imagine a life without him. He was my baby.
I prayed. I went to the beach and prayed. That night I took bailey for a walk in the park across the street where dogs were not allowed. I tried to have a moment with him by the lake but he couldn’t sit still wanting to chase lizards and shadows. Even at 12 years-old he had so much energy.
I couldn’t understand why I was going through this. Life was so unfair. I just wanted peace. I wanted peace with Bailey and I wanted peace with my husband.
But I had to respect my husband. He was more important, or so people told me. Bailey was sick mentally and maybe physically. “Was I going to wait until he bit my husband to make a decision?” they said.
I was in so much pain. Then when I was driving back from the beach I heard Kelly Clarkson’s, “Already gone.” I knew.
“I didn’t want us to burn out
I didn’t come here to hurt you now
I can’t stop
I want you to know
That it doesn’t matter
Where we take this road
Someone’s gotta go
And I want you to know
You couldn’t have loved me better
But I want you to move on
So I’m already gone
Looking at you makes it harder
But I know that you’ll find another
That doesn’t always make you wanna cry
Started with a perfect kiss
Then we could feel the poison set in
Perfect couldn’t keep this love alive
You know that I love you so
I love you enough to let you go”
There Was a Reason for this Madness.
There are no coincidences. God had a plan for me. I had no idea what was in store for me.
For all of you that don’t believe, believe that I believe. Because I couldn’t have gotten through this without Him.
I made an appointment to put him down on the day of my best friend’s mom’s funeral. I don’t know why but somehow it seemed appropriate and I could get out of myself also. Later that day, after the funeral I went home and both cats were sitting in the living room upright (they are usually lounging on the couches in the front room).
Where they waiting?
Surely they knew something was up. Their buddy was gone.
I cried forever it seemed. The tears just kept coming.
Then a few months passed. I was 39 and was faced with the fact that my child bearing years might be over soon.
But I was told I could be infertile anyway.
Could I be a mother?
This is something I never considered. First, because I could never have children around Bailey and second, because I didn’t see myself as a mother.
But things were different now. My life was a little hum drum. I was tired of working at the cosmetics counter.
Maybe I should have a child, I thought.
As fast as I made the decision to snatch up Bailey on Ocean Drive, I made a decision to have a child. It was impulsive but I gave it all to the Universe. God had a plan for me.
But it wouldn’t be easy.
“I’m not going to tell you you’re going to have a child my doctor said. The odds are against you. Your age and the fact that you have endometriosis are against you. But we will see……”
I had a miscarriage and eventually had Henri. Then I had Oliver. Again, not only did I not see myself having one child, but now I have two!
Getting Bailey was the biggest lesson of my life. Having children was the next. He was my biggest teacher. He taught me the patience I would later have to have with screaming toddlers. He taught me the selflessness I needed to allow to let things go. The panic I had when he took off running down the street swerving in and out of traffic in a storm would never measure up to the panic I would have when my son fell off of a chair and hit his head. Bailey was my teacher. He was my preparation for having children. I could not have done it without first having Bailey.
But had I not put him down, it is unlikely we would have had children.
So I still say God had a plan. Everything was placed in special order. He needed me to prepare somehow. I had many lessons to learn before having children. I love my children more than anything. I thought I could never love anything more than I love my dog. To this day (7 years later) I cannot put his picture up. I have so much to thank him for. The end of his life was good. Ours wasn’t. We all sacrificed something because of him, including him. No visitors, no vacations. But that short amount of time gave us the life that we have today. Everything was placed perfectly.
I love you Bailey. Thank you for Oliver and Henri.