This is Bailey. Our pet name for her is Ms. Bay. When she came home to live with us 12 years ago, she was about the cutest, sweetest thing we ever saw. Abe was 15. Jordan was 4. She’s grown up with our family and is the best example of unconditional love you’ll ever find. She makes friends instantly with people and animals alike. I constantly marvel at her ability to read any situation and respond with grace. And she’s still the cutest thing we’ve ever seen.
She once had a mischievous streak. During her younger years, she chewed up everything, including that center island in our old kitchen that’s showing in the photo. She also very much enjoyed a few chair legs and the bottom of our staircase, all of which needed special attention when we moved from Torrance. Shoes were her weakness–the kids all knew not to leave them on the ground or she would sneak over, grab ‘em, and run for her life. Everything, in fact, was fair game. True to her breed she ate a few Christmas balls off the tree and a frisbee or two. For a solid two years, all my pajama bottoms had holes in them from where she would grab on as I walked through the garden.
At the time, I remember asking the trainer when it would stop. It was driving me nuts. At about two years old, he said. At about 3, she stopped nipping at my pjs. At about 4, she stopped chewing up the house. And most recently, she’s given up the shoe chase. It’s safe to put down a pair of shoes and know they’ll still be there when you go to get them.
But just as with people, we redefine fun. It’s far more productive than moping about and lamenting about the past.
The highlight of Ms. Bay’s day is our morning walk. My husband and I take her down our street and we can gauge how much pain she’s in by whether or not she wants to walk the extra stretch to the mailboxes. We say the walks are for her, but really I think they’re for us. We hear the birds welcome the morning. We wave to neighbors starting their day. We greet neighborhood dogs every now and again, like Otto, or the Big Dogs (Manny and Homer) or the Little Dogs (Ethel and the smaller version of Ethel.) We see the clouds so beautifully painted in the morning sky around these parts. We watch Ms. Bay’s tail wag the whole way. Pure joy.
She’s moving into her Autumn now. Things are starting to hurt. Her eyes are turning silver. Her back seems to be bulging a bit. After taking her to the vet and running some tests, the doc threw out a possible Cushing’s Disease diagnosis. So we’re in that stage of balancing opinion over intuition. Our collective intuition is that it’s more pain related than anything else.
We decided to take her the Eastern route and hit up one of the few pet acupuncturists in Northern California. I completely believe in the principles of acupuncture and have often had great luck myself where Western medicine has come up short.
With dogs, the way it works is a laser is used over the sore areas and this feels very good. Look at this happy face. This relaxes them to sit down on this nice rug.
After this goes on for about five minutes, the vet puts the needles in and they stay like that for about 20 minutes just like in humans. As we were sitting with the vet tech, with Ms. Bay under needles, she said that she’d seen some miraculous results with paralyzed dogs who couldn’t walk with they came in. They had been completely restored to walking condition. And not just dogs. She’d seen some horses respond really well to acupuncture, too.
This is what the needles look like. Okay. So you can’t really see them very well through her very thick coat. But see those wires? They’re hooked up to an electrical stimulator and that makes the procedure all that much more effective.
When Ms. Bay was done, she seemed very happy. She was bouncy again. We will definitely be taking her back regularly through her Autumn years to make that golden time as happy as she has made our last 12 years.