Sunday, August 15, 2010
Well, if you know me at all, you know I have a slight obsession with dogs. Mostly all animals, but I just love puppies. (And in referring to them as "puppies," I do not mean young dogs, I call all dogs puppies, whether they are 6 months or 6 years old.) I just love them so much. I have always loved dogs, my family had dogs around from the moment I was born. First we had Sandalwood, a dark red golden retriever who was my oldest brother's first dog and who was still around when I was born. Sandalwood liked to dig...and run...so when my family moved and our yard wasn't big enough for his liking, Sandalwood dug himself a little hole under the fence and ran away often. Because of this, we brought him to a farm where he had plenty of room to run and roam and play with other dogs. (Side Note: it was a for real farm, not a "farm" where parents tell their children their dog had to be taken.) Then, in the late 80's we got Maggie, another purebred golden who I always considered my best friend. Maggie and I grew up together, we went on adventures together, I even used to sit with her and try to teach her how to use sign language. (I have a vivid memory of sitting on the floor teaching her letters.) I also told her when we grew up that we would travel the world together. When she was about 8, actually exactly 8, she started having seizures. The vets couldn't explain it, but they gave her some medicine and she started to appear better. Almost exactly a month after her first seizure, she passed away in the middle of the night. I had set up a vigil that night, with a candle and ceramic angels my Nanny made me. She was hiding in my parents bathroom and they told us all to leave her alone. While they were downstairs and thought I was sleeping, I snuck into their bathroom and laid down with Maggie on the floor, rubbing her head with a damp wash cloth. The next morning, my mom came into my room and sat on my bed to tell me that Maggie died in the middle of the night. It was heart wrenching. For months, I slept with her collar wrapped around my bedpost and I would shake it just to hear the tags clink together like they did when she would come prancing into a room. I remember vowing to myself at the vets office when she was sick that I would become a veterinarian and always figure out what was wrong and how to fix it so that no one ever had to feel like I did during that time. I was so mad at them for not knowing what was wrong, for telling us that the medicine they gave her probably just masked whatever the true problem was.
I actually went into college as a pre-veterinary med major...(clearly, switched to Comm. because of my affinity for laziness.) I worked at a vet's office during college breaks, and even a few years ago when I was looking into going to grad school, it was between teaching and veterinary medicine. That's probably one thing I will always regret, not having the drive to become a veterinarian.
Anyhow, after Maggie, when I was about 13, we got a little fluffball golden retriever in Madison, VA. We named this light golden butterball, Madison. She was so cute it was hard to look at her for too long. Madison was the epitome of perfection. As she grew, she learned to bring in the newspaper, bring my dad his slippers, flip treats off her nose and into her mouth, and many other adorable tricks. She would bring my dad one slipper when he would get home from work, go back upstairs, get the other and bring it down to him. She then began to do this without us asking and if my dad wasn't home from work every night when he was supposed to be, she would start bringing them down so they'd be ready when he got home. Adorable. She was my little honeybear and I loved her to pieces.
My mom always said she wanted a lap dog to snuggle with. Not something she ever said she HAD to have, just in the future, one day, maybe she would want something small for herself. So, when I went to college my Freshman year, my dad and I had this grand plan to get her a little something to have for herself. (Even though Madison was so great and really was a Mama's girl.) So my father and I started looking for cocker spaniels, because my mom always thought the blonde ones look like mini-goldens. My older brother found out about this and flipped out. He had to stand his ground and never allow a "small, yippee" dog in our house. Now, yes we were and always have been a big-dog family, but a cocker spaniel is far from a yippee dog. But Cameron (who lived in Connecticut, mind you) put his foot down, did some research and found a litter of chocolate lab puppies near my parents home in Northern VA. I was home for Christmas break and my dad and I went to pick one out. Bailey pretty much picked ME out though. All the other puppies were running all over the place playing with each other and Bailey scooted right up to me, jumped in my lap and stole my heart with her little gorilla face and baby grunts. So, we claimed that little one as ours and headed home with a plan for a Christmas arrival for the newest member of our family. I took a picture of her while we were there and we put it in one of my pretend puppy beds from when I was little. We put the bed under the Christmas tree with a note that said something like "Hi I'm ______, your new puppy!" We let my mom pick her name. I pretty much thought of Bailey because at the time I was semi-obsessed with Redskins cornerback, Champ Bailey, so I suggested that. My mom said she was not naming her puppy after a football player, but she does love Bailey's Irish Cream, so there we were:)
Sadly, we were not entirely prepared for the wrath that is a Labrador Retriever puppy. Madison's perfect life until that point, with her favorite bone shaped pillow, her collection of tennis balls and all her plush toys, was turned into mayhem. At first Madison was kind of like, "what is this thing trying to chase my tail?" But they did become the best of friends. Bailey was somewhat of a terror those first few years, leading my mother to question why we would give her such a "gift" when she had the perfect Madison to love already. We blamed Cameron on any wrong-doing Bailey proved to serve, because I am sure my choice of a cute little cocker spaniel would not have caused nearly as much destruction as Bailey did. (eating boxes of food-including ingestion of the box, whole loaves of bread, terrorizing the house, thrashing through trash cans) But we love Bailey nonetheless, and she is now an 8 year old princess:) Also, Bailey at a whopping 80 lbs, truly believes she belongs on your lap. So, guess mom got her lap dog after all!
It still hurts to think about when Madison had to be put down, but just to be fair in this blog, giving each animal their story, Madison had a mass the size of a lemon in her heart and there was nothing they could do. I had never had to put a dog to sleep before, Maggie died on her own and at age 8, Madison started swelling, became very lethargic and we had no choice but to let her go. We held onto her until the very last minute and the night before we found out we had to put her down, I spent a long time on the floor with her just petting, snuggling and telling her how perfect she was and how much I loved my Honeybear.
The purpose of this blog is not to make anybody sad, as I am sure it will, because even as I write it I am missing Madison, but I just thought after looking at petfinder for almost an hour, that maybe my love for puppies should be blogged about! Bailey is still around and wonderful, the snuggliest pup in the world and she still wiggles and jumps up and down when I walk through the door to my parents house. She is, in every sense of the word, like my little sister:)
Now all I need is a pup of my own. Luckily, Oliver shares this love obsession for dogs and when we have a bigger house we will have as many as we can fit. Ideally, I would like to own a ranch, rescue all sorts of puppies and live amongst the greatest animals life has to offer. I'll let you know how that dream pans out.