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Posts Tagged ‘National Writing Month’

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See the first Bailey post here. 

My sister, Diamondqueen, and her husband, baileymemorial-small-web-view.jpgTPM (That Poor Man), lived in a third floor apartment when they were first married. I’d swing by after work sometimes to see Bailey, which the newlyweds didn’t seem to mind. If Bailey was out of her crate, she’d be looking down from the glass doors that opened onto the balcony. She’d hesitate, making sure it was me climbing out of the car, then she went into a frenzy of howling and clawing at the glass in the door. That far below, I could hear the pads of her paws against the glass. Then, as I climbed the stairs, she’d eagerly wait for me at the door. When I entered, her baying would start afresh amid frantic tail-wagging.

If Bailey was in her crate when I arrived, she’d dash through the hall with this bizarre kind of crouch, as if she were a lizard (I always wondered if she thought that would make her move faster). Then she’d jump on me and erupt into her noisy welcome. We’d try to shush her for the sake of the neighbors, but in typical Bailey contrarian fashion, she just bayed louder.

By summer Diamondqueen, TPM, and Bailey had moved into their own house. There was a large picture window over the sofa, which provided the ideal perch for Bailey. She lay across the top of the back of the sofa, which was the perfect height for her to soak up the sunshine and watch the traffic pass. That’s where I most likely saw her when I’d pull into the driveway. Sometimes she’d be on her feet, still on the back of the sofa, even before I turned in off Lebanon Road, maintaining her balance as her tail lashed back and forth. Or she’d be standing on the sofa cushions, her forelegs braced against the top of the sofa, because she’d been asleep but had heard my car outside. When I emerged from the car, I’d see her nose go up, and the high pitch of her braying penetrated the glass. If she was barking, her breath would fog the window before her; but before it faded, she’d already leapt down to meet me at the door.

By the time The Hooligans moved into their next home, even bigger and nicer than the last, J.Hooligan was one year old and Bailey was going on five. The new house didn’t have a picture window, and the traffic on the shaded subdivision street was much quieter than on Lebanon Road, which was busy at all times of the day. Bailey had to sit on a hard wood floor if she wanted to stare out the family room window; the living room floor was carpeted, but shrubbery and perspective diminished her range of view. Sometimes she could lie on the family room futon and stare through the window to see who was walking his or her dog. That gave her reason to get up and make a racket until the trespassers were out of view. I could be wrong, but I don’t think she spent as much time keeping tabs on the comings and goings as she had in the big picture window in the house on Lebanon Road. Then again, there she could lounge along the top of the overstuffed sofa while she observed the world. It might have been lack of comfort more than lack of curiosity that curtailed her neighborhood watch.

When I pulled up beneath the tall trees in front of the Hooligan’s house, though, Bailey either was in the window or would appear quickly. As ever, the nose pointed skyward and the yowling echoed from inside the house. Then Bailey would vanish, and I knew she’d be there when I opened the door, a bracing homecoming in a house that wasn’t even my own home.

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Bailey was a beagle. She was the dog my sister and brother-in-law bought just days after they returned baileymemorial-small-web-view.jpgfrom their honeymoon in October, 1995. She was a sweetheart, a demon, affectionate, vile, thieving, and thoroughly lovable — when she wasn’t driving everyone crazy.

For someone who doesn’t own dogs herself (thanks to apartment living and other lifestyle hindrances), I seem to have an instant, special rapport with dogs. Bailey was no exception. We bonded quickly, even though we didn’t live in the same household and sometimes I saw her only once a week. On the other hand, she loved just about everyone.

She possibly had the most personality of any dog I ever knew, and the most active brain. When she was young, I imagined I could hear her thinking. Sometimes Diamondqueen (my sister), TPM (That Poor Man, my brother-inlaw), and I would play Trivial Pursuit. Bailey would sit on her own chair and watch. I swore she was following the moves on the board and calculating the plays each of us would have to make to win. (Later, when her thieving ways had gotten the best of her, she never would have just sat on a chair, but would have grabbed the first game card or piece within reach and bolted out of the room.)

She was manipulative as hell. Her favorite technique was simply to turn on the charm. My sister said the beagle would practically bat her eyes, like a cartoon dog, to wheedle what she wanted. It was true. Many a time I’d feel her chin on my knee under the dinner table. I’d lift the tablecloth or peek into the shadows below, and there’d be Bailey gazing up at me. Her eyes sparkled with endearment, her mouth was slightly turned up at the corners, and she did seem to bat her eyes.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. When food was involved, Bailey simply shifted to Plan B: stealing.

She put on her “endearing beagle” act for strangers all the time, no matter where she met them. Everyone was her long-lost best friend. She’d sit erect before someone with whom she was trying to curry favor, tail wagging so energetically her ears would flop.

Bailey’s life was much too brief. She passed away in March 2005, almost five months short of her tenth birthday. Her last years weren’t as happy as they should have been, as she faced health problems and psychological adjustments to new babies, new fellow pets, and moves to new houses. But she never lost her style or her supreme talent for thievery and raising hell. For that I’ll always admire her. And I still miss her terribly.

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