Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bay-Boo

This morning I was sitting here at the kitchen table beginning the first of something like 9 different conference calls, when the old man of the family came waltzing up to me. He wanted to have his ears scratched. After I rubbed and scratched his ears for a while he plunked down on the floor and put his big ole head right on my feet. I am talking about my Bailey. He is one of the most fantastic dogs in the world! I have had Bailey since July 12, 1996. I remember the day that I got that little puppy like it was yesterday! It was a Friday and I really had no intention of bringing home a dog that day. Little did I know that Patty had the intention of bringing home a dog! We had looked in the Denver Post and found a family that was selling a litter of chocolate Labrador retrievers. Patty had been dead set on getting a chocolate lab because she was in love with Tim and Celinde’s chocolate lab – Jake. The family with this litter of puppies was located in Brighton, Colorado. This was before Brighton had become the little boom town that it is today. Back then it was just a bunch of small little farms located out on the prairie. We went to this place on an early Friday evening after a long day of work for the both of us. It was a small little farm without much around. There were like 15 little puppies running around the place. It was insane. We got to meet the mamma puppy and she looked to be in good shape. She was a little on the old side – 8 years old - to have as large of a litter as she had but all the puppies appeared to be healthy.

(Bay as a young pup on a hike in Deer Creek Canyon)

After looking around for awhile we sat down to play with the puppies. The moment we sat down the decision as to what puppy we were going to get was made. The puppy that was to become Bailey made the decision for us. When we sat down on the ground all of the puppies swarmed around us. One puppy literally fought his way into Patty’s lap. No matter what any other puppy did, the puppy would not leave Patty’s lap. It was like he claimed her for his own – he just won’t move! Though he had been running around like a fiend the moment before and was biting and pawing everything, he was sitting there in Patty’s lap all calm and sedate. Well – you can guess the effect this had on Patty. That puppy was to be our dog. I was very nervous about taking the puppy home that night, but Patty would have none of it. She didn’t want this puppy to be confused with another puppy – even through they put fingernail polish on his toenail. So we ended up bring this little 8 pound chocolate lab home with us that night. Though he was all happy in Patty’s lap he was not a happy camper about leaving his home. He crawled in to the back seat of the car and sat with his paws against the back window and whined the whole time we were driving away from the house.

(Bay high in the mountains near Surprise Lake after a long hike)

Bay’s puppyhood was good and he had lots of fun. He was our “first child” so he was spoiled rotten. He got just about every kind of puppy toy that you could image and he got countless walks. Every weekend I would normally take him with Tim and/or Celinde and their dogs to the dog area at Chatfield State Park. He loved running free and he demonstrated his abilities as a great swimmer. He was a fun loving and happy puppy. There are many stories that can be told about Bailey. I literally could write a book about him. I don’t want to spend all that time right now writing so I am only going to highlight a few stories about this pup. (Bay and Zack posing for a Christmas Card.)

Before we got Devon, Bay had to spend the entire day at home alone. Once he got to the size that he couldn’t squeeze out of the fence we started to leave him out in the yard. To make it comfortable for him I would put his favorite dog bed on the back porch with him. One day I did this and came home to a nasty surprise. It was in the fall and the light was starting to fade when I came home. I went to the sliding glass door to let Bay in and I shook my head. It looked like the entire back deck and a large part of the back yard was covered in snow. I couldn’t understand it. As soon as I let Bailey in I went out to investigate. Yeah – it was white. Yeah – it was soft, but it turned out to be the filling of Bailey’s puppy bed. He had taken his bed and shredded the entire thing! All the filling was covering the entire back yard. It was incredible! Needless to say I was a tab bit angry with my pup at that point. I won’t even guess how long it took me to clean up that mess. Years later when the deck was being replaced, I still found tons of the filling on the ground underneath the deck. I learned my lesson on that one – Bailey never got to have a bed outside again until he was like 7 years old!

(Bay as the wise old dog in his favorite spot in the house.)

Bay has always been one of the strongest swimmers I know. I have seen that dog swim his way out of some amazing things over the years. He just has no fear of the water. One sunny weekend day in spring, I was at Chatfield State Park with some friends of mine – John and Cass White and their Rottweiler named Zeus. Bailey and Zeus were running around playing like fiends as one would expect. We were walking down near the South Platte River and spillway from the dam. For whatever reason, Bailey decided to run down into the water right near the spillway. He climbed up on the top of the spill and was running across it. Unfortunately for him, the water falling over the spillway caused him to lose his footing and tumble over the spillway into the churning maelstrom. I thought he was dead. I figured there was no way in this world that he would survive. I didn’t think anyone or anything would have survived that. I stood there at the edge of the water screaming his name. And then – he broke free of the undercurrent and shot to the surface of the water. Though it was a nasty dangerous situation, this dog was swimming his way out. He was freaking remarkable. I don’t even know how he came up with the capability to get himself out of that mess. Eventually he made it to shore and then looked at me like I was nuts because I was making a big fuss over him. He got somewhat banged up because of the fall, but in the end run he survived without too much damage. Before he got too old, Bay was one of the most marvelous trail dogs. Unlike Devon and Lex who was/is a fiend on the trail, Bay was always very smart about hiking. He normally stayed very close to you while on the trail. Unlike Devon and Lex who constant ran as far afield as they could, Bailey would stay very close and act very protective. He was smart about which trails to take. Whenever we would come to a trail junction he would sit there and wait for me to point which way to go. He didn’t seem to believe in wasting any energy while hiking. He was always smart about it and he would tell you if he thought we had gone far enough. Normally it wasn’t possible to tire this dog out. He would just keep going and going and going. I think the longest hike I ever took him on was 15 miles. We were hiking in the Eagles Nest Wilderness area not too far from this little town called Heeney perched above the Green Mountain Reservoir. We started near the trailhead for Lower Cataract Lake and hiked in for miles along a series of trails until we reached the backbone ridge or the entire Gore Mountain chain. It was a great day of hiking that left us both exhausted but fulfilled. Bay will turn 13 years old in a little over 5 weeks. I know Bay will not live forever, but I can’t help but believe this dog has another 2 or 3 years left in him. He is strong and he loves life. Yes – he can act like an old dog sometimes by sleeping through the majority of the day. But he is still all there – he can hear everything and his eyesight is still good. His back legs have gotten a little weak in the last year – especially since he ruptured 2 discs on his back last year this time. He needed a bunch of surgery to solve that one – but he bounced back. Bay has been a loyal friend and companion to the family for his entire life. He is a member of the family and no matter what – I will do everything to make this little puppy of mine have a happy, joyful and relaxing old age. I am loyal to an extreme and I will express my love and commitment to this wonderful soul without reservation. As for our doings for the day – there here isn’t a lot to say. Zack had school. I had work. Zack went to WCCK after school until 4:30PM. I picked him up and took him to Great Clips to get a hair cut as he looked like he had a mop growing from his head. We had to run another errand on the way home as I needed to buy some photo card stock as I have a card that I want to print and get in the mail within the next day. Zack did his homework and then we went to the mall to try and find a new pair of glasses for him. We got them at LensCrafters and since we got them less then a year ago and we only needed a new frame – we got them ½ off. So it wasn’t too bad of a cost.

(Zack sporting his haircut and new glasses at the mall.)

We had dinner at the food court and now are home. Z-man is sitting here next to me devouring his “fill your hand wiches” for dessert. Anyway – that is our story for another day. Once I get Zack to bed I need to get working. I want to get these presentations finished but that probably won’t be until tomorrow. I am also writing another entry for the Caringbridge site. I might post that late tonight but I am not sure. Until tomorrow – thanks and peace to all!


Dog Beds said...

Your dog sounds very lucky to have you pick him! Hopefully he has many great years ahead of him.

Tina Sommers said...

Love this story about your Bay, I have a chesapeake bay retriever and he is my second child, :-).
Dogs are the best, when you are down somehow they know you need them to be there right by your side.
I love reading all of your blogs and loved the latest caringbridge post, it brought me to tears, knowing what you all went through.

Anonymous said...

Bailey is BEAUTIFUL! I love dogs. I have 2 AKC Golden Retrievers, Sonny & Missy. Labrador behavior is essentially the same as the Goldens. I LOVE their personalities and will never be without a dog as long as I can have any say about it! :-D
Robin, Texas