Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Story of Bailey

Jessie, Toby, Cynthia (Bailey's Mom), and Bailey
The following was sent to me by Bailey's Mommy. It touched my heart and I know it will yours.
We came to Bailey, and not the other way around, to help a young male Labrador we had adopted from a breeder. That was a mistake. Unfortunately, this frightened dog, whom we named Jake, was never socialized with humans. So, at 8 months of age, it was too late. We were at wits' end. Many suggested we have him euthanized. But, as far as we were concerned, that was not an option. At last, we found a Labrador Retriever rehabilitator who suggested we temporarily bring another dog into our home, to see if this would help give Jake more confidence and less fear the world around him.

Yes, you guessed it, enter Bailey. This significantly over weight and rambunctious 22-month-old female was being fostered by an older couple who were no match for her energy and curiosity. Bailey’s history included a lot of food to fill her days and make up for the lack of activity. She was a medium-sized Labrador who tipped the scale at 95 lbs.

When we arrived at the house, Bailey ran around in circles as if overjoyed to have company at the house. As I sat down on a chair, she jumped up and rested her front paws and head in my lap as if to say, ‘I am so happy you are here’. My husband looked at me and said in a low voice, “she’s a handful”. But that is what we thought Jake needed. For a temporary period of time, so we thought.

Bailey very willingly came home with us that same day. Her misty-eyed foster parents waved good-bye. After that day, we never looked back, for 9 years. Bailey’s presence was only a temporary fix for Jake. Therefore, we decided to send Jake to Best Friend’s Sanctuary in Kanab, UT.

So, Jake went and Bailey stayed. How lucky we were! With a smart diet and days of hiking and swimming, Bailey lost 30 lbs and turned into a beautiful, unique looking chocolate Labrador. The vet suspected she was English bred because of her stocky stature, square face (unusual for females), reddish brown wavy coat, and white patch on her chest.

To say that Bailey was a delight would be an understatement. She was our girly girl. We took her everywhere… road trips to Newfoundland, New Mexico, Arizona, the Carolinas, Florida Pan Handle, and numerous ferry rides to Block Island, RI where she learned how to swim in the many ponds and body surf in the Atlantic Ocean.

She was intuitive, licking tears from your face or snuggling next to you just when you needed it. But Bailey also let you know what she wanted. When she wanted to play, she’d grab several (sometimes 4) plush toys (a.k.a. woobies) in her mouth and saunter over to you and push them into your lap while looking up at you with her pleading eyes. When she was happy to see you she’d twirl in circles which we lovingly called pirouettes. As she got older and her hip dysplasia became more pronounced, her pirouettes ended and instead, she’d make a sweet crying sound as she happily trotted over to you, always pressing her head and shoulders into your knees just to make sure you knew how happy she was to see you. Bailey knew just how to thank you. If we filled or freshened her water bowl on one of our long hikes she’d lick our face as we poured and after we poured the water.

Bailey just knew. She knew how to connect with people. We created our own special language with Bailey (some of which was indecipherable to others like ‘imaughwa’) which allowed us to communicate our feeling to one other. And, this special language in which you happily participated in, was always filled with love and appreciation.

Bailey was almost 11 when she passed away. I know that sounds old but she really wasn’t. Before the cancer she’d hike 10 miles and always be ahead of her sibling who was 2 ½ years younger. Bailey always had to be up front walking with my husband. Now, when we go for hikes and I look ahead at my husband, he walks alone. But I often envision her happy gait with her tail swaying from side to side as she walked with her Dadee! I’d like to think that although I can’t see her that somehow she’s still walking with him.

Bailey, we had so many ‘pet’ names for you which you happily acknowledged. But the one that best sums you up is ‘Sweetie’. Goodbye, Sweetie. You will be forever missed and loved. There will never be another like you.

Am I just too cute?

Gotta go!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I have a "thing" for paws

I think kitty paws are so cute, like baby feet.
Riley and Casey were looking out my office window watching the neighbor cat and birds go by. It's rare that Riley slows down long enough to do things like this. He's either full tilt or sleeping, it seems. But yesterday morning he settled down long enough to enjoy the view with his sister.
Their paws were touching which I thought was so adorable I had to take a picture..

Then, as I watched, Riley moved his paw over.

They sat that way for several minutes. I felt so blessed to be able to experience this, let alone catch it on film.
You can't tell me animals don't love each other.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Riley the water cat

I mentioned in a previous post that Riley has what we think is an abnormal fascination with water. He seeks it out any chance he gets. Buster used to like to drink from a cup so when Riley was just a baby kitten I offered that to him as well. He immediately took to it. It was uncanny the way he got so excited when he saw the cup.
So, that has been our daily ritual. Every morning [and now several times a day] he asks for his cup and we fill it for him.

The problem is he is now obsessed with his cup. When it was empty, he would start batting it around asking for it to be filled. The original cup was ceramic, so we switched to a plastic unbreakable cup. Then he started playing with the water in it with his paw. He would scoot it across the countertop if it was empty and force it into the sink so that it clattered. Not a very nice thing to do at 3 AM!
So we started hiding it in the cupboard below the sink.
He found it there.
So we put a baby lock on the cupboard.
Last week, he figured out how to open that and squeezed himself into the cupboard. He then scooted the tumbler out of the cupboard and sent it careening down the hallway. Makes a wonderful loud noice on satillo tile!
So, now we have an even stronger ARD [anti-Riley device] on the cupboard.

It takes us two hands with two thumbs to open it. I wonder how long it will take Riley?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Love between friends

Riley sleeping with his friend Jessie
I took this over the weekend. Riley sleeps on our bed at night along with Jessie. Any chance he gets, he snuggles up with her.
Last night, we actually caught him with his little paw extended so that he was touching her ear in his sleep. This picture is unusual because Riley was sleeping first and Jessie snuggled up so that her head was resting on his paw. I guess she likes him, too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No place is sacred

I doubt there is any place in our home that Riley can't reach now, which brings a whole new meaning to baby-proofing the house. This picture is a perfect example. John was packing a box to ship out and left it on the dinette table overnight. Riley used it in the morning to gain access to a hanging plant that he promptly chewed.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Casey and Riley

Casey adopted Riley from the very first. She somehow sensed his babyness and decided she would protect him and care for him. He was grateful. Having been orphaned, he never had the luxury of a mother's love and was very content to curl up with her any chance he got.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Baby pictures

Six weeks old. Look at the ears! Glad he grew into them.

Six weeks old. Sleeping on the router in my office.

I'm having a lot of fun going through Riley's baby pictures. I also noticed that just about all of them seem to be of him sleeping in various locations and positions. He must have done a lot of sleeping back then.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting bigger

I think Riley has had a growth spurt. He seems longer and taller.
But he's still a kitten in so many way. Everything is an adventure and something to be explored. He has an abnormal fascination with water and seeks it out every chance he gets.

But I miss my little fuzzball. Since I didn't start this blog until Riley was older [he's already 9 months old], I think I am going to go back and start posting some of his baby pictures over the next few days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Bailey passed over the Rainbow Bridge this morning. She fought a valiant fight against cancer and her spirit was strong until the end. She is the beloved fur-baby of my cousins Cynthia and Alan and her beautiful sweet soul will be missed.
Rest easy, sweet Bailey.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Is there anything more innocent than a sleeping cat?
So peaceful - so deceptive.
You'd never know that minutes before Riley was badgering the heck out of poor Charlotte. Twice yesterday I pulled white hair out of his mouth, a sure give-away that he was being less than kind to her. She is old and arthritic and just can't handle his youthful energy. Nor does she understand why jumping on her and biting her is considered fun.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

As I sit here in the early morning hours of this new year surrounded by all my critters, I know what it means to be blessed.
I yearn for something profound to say but all I can feel right now is gratitude. So, I say thanks.
Thanks for the ability to write what I feel, thanks for the freedom to do so.
Thanks for the freedom to start anew.
Thanks for my furry friends who give me so much love and pleasure.
Thanks for the ability to care for them and, I hope, enrich their lives as much as they enrich mine.
I look fondly back on the fur-babies that I lost over the years and although I miss them so much, I am grateful they were in my life.
Here's to 2009!