My beagle has been a woman's best friend. Her name is Bayley and I've had her since she was seven weeks old. I was seven months pregnant with my little girl when I saw her in the pet store window in Lubbock, Texas on my birthday in July of '03. It was love at first sight, especially when I saw a little boy squeezing her and starting to give her a shake. I rushed in all belly and hormones and as politely as I could muster (it was also a hundred and five degrees outside and I wasn't thrilled when I woke up that morning) I said I was buying her. Three hundred and fifty dollars went on the credit card without blinking twice, and I walked out cuddling the most adorable snub-nosed baby beagle I had ever seen or held in my life. She was mine. Immediately the nay-sayers in life said I was crazy to take on a puppy when I was pregnant and about to give birth to a baby that would take over my life. Yeah maybe, but that's how I've always rolled, simply acting on a strong voice in my head that says, "Do it". Texas summers are brutal, and a West Texas summer is hellacious. The night time temperature cooled to about 75 or 80 degrees, so when I found I couldn't sleep from the heat and my rather uncomfortable size, I would go out onto the patio and take Bayley with me. She would romp in the yard at 3am while I would fervently wish for a breeze to come along. It worked out well, this set-up of ours, she would be wide awake at 3am and so would I, so outside we went for about an hour. She would tire herself out and I would be ready to lie down again and try to sleep. For the two months it took to get to my delivery date to have my daughter, Bayley and I had a nice routine, and in two months she calmed down enough and adapted enough that she started to sleep all night through.....(not so for my baby girl when she came along, but that's another story and another blog). Bayley fit right into our family, and did I mention that we already had two other dogs? Yes, I know....crazy.
Bayley and the other two dogs loved to vacation with us. We traveled to the Rockies almost yearly, and later on when we moved to Kentucky, we spent summer vacation on Lake Superior. Bayley loved to go with us. We would board the two big dogs and take her with us. She was never any trouble, and we adored her. Moving to Kentucky was quite the adventure, hauling three dogs and five cats a thousand miles in three days to make Lexington, Kentucky our new home. It was a career move for my then husband, the university professor. Bayley loved her life because I was a stay-at-home mom till my little girl started kindergarten. I always raised my girls like that, I got to be home with them and to take care of our house, our pets, my husband and our whole life. Wow, pretty tall order now that I look back. But life changed last year in a big way. Our family was abandoned and left to pick up the pieces. I have written extensively about this whole ordeal when this was a divorce blog, so no need to rehash a single thing here, other then to say that pets get the short end of the stick when life falls apart. I have spent the last year and a half taking care of Bayley and my five cats in a small rented home. The oldest dog passed away a few months before life hit the fan, and the other big dog we had, Annie, was placed into foster care because I was not allowed more then one dog in my new home. So I downsized in living space, pets and my sense of belonging. I learned to manage, although very stressfully, over these last eighteen months. But, here I am today....it's Sunday, August 28th 2011 and I am waiting for a family to come and take Bayley away to a new life in Ohio. I never would have imagined being in this situation, giving up a beloved pet, but you see, Bayley's life has become small over the last year. Very small. I needed to get out and work or starve, and Bayley needed to be crated on a daily basis, sometimes for twelve to sixteen hours at a time. I had no other choice and no one was willing to help me with her, everyone had their own life, troubles, etc.,etc. Forget the ex....yes, let's forget him. So I was doing the best I could under the circumstances. It was increasingly clear that Bayley needed a better home then I could give her. She needed a family, kids, other dogs, room to romp, and I couldn't do that for her anymore. So began a series of calls, emails, Facebook posts, and much pleading for someone to step up and take her as their own. Thankfully, and due to the big hearts of dear friends, and one very special friend in particular, I was put in touch with a family that is on their way to my home as I type.
Bayley is going to her new home this afternoon. What else could I do but sit here, blinded by tears at times, and pound away on these keys? She is laying in the recliner across the room, breathing contentedly and raising an eye every now and then to check on me. We've spent today playing with her, bathing her, cutting her nails, and generally excepting what is about to happen. I'm giving my baby away. This is my last gift to her.....to have a home with people that will love her, people who are devoted animal lovers, people who have beautiful property and a big fenced yard and two kids eager to have Bayley come home to them tonight. I can do this. I can do this because I love her more then my stubborn will that says I can manage no matter what. I simply can't, and I am making Bayley's life better by giving her up. There is guilt, there is anger at having to even deal with this because of what was thrust upon me last year, and it's something that is cracking me wide open....yet again.
So, for anyone who has ever loved and lost a dog, you can imagine how I feel. To anyone who has ever known a bond and a kinship with an animal, you know how I feel. And to anyone who may read this post, please, send me a good thought or two, a silent prayer for balance, harmony, ease of transition. My heart is breaking, but even this is going to turn into a blessing.
And that's the point to this post, bottom line, no matter what is going on there is a blessing within the pain. This is all I can offer up today....wait for the blessing....it will come.
Until next time....blessings upon your heart. And mine. And Bayley's.