Our labrador retriever, Bailey, had a seizure this weekend.
This isn’t a sad post. Bailey is alive and snoring at my feet. I have my sweatshirt over my nose and my eyes are watering because I can taste her farts in my mouth.
Bailey was born to retrieve birds. The name of her breed says so. Her pedigree is filled with generations of ribbons and trophies. Bailey’s mother and father produced a bird hunter’s dream dog. Bailey was born in Friendship, Wisconsin, ten and a half years ago. She’s 73 now.
She was picked by her master, a man she would know as Scott. “I want the one chasing all those kittens.”
And me, Scott’s wife of two weeks. “That one? Not only is she a bitch but she’s a real bitch!”
She later peed on me twice during the drive back to Kansas.
For the past ten years, the second weekend of November belong to Bailey and Scott. It’s pheasant season. Northwest Kansas is invaded with men in orange vests, guns and retrieving dogs. Most dogs don’t listen. Some are left at home because they are gun shy. Not Bailey. She will retrieve anything under her master’s command.
She has spent her life waiting.
She has been waiting for a bird to fall from the sky.
Then it happens. Her eyes set on the spot. She listens and waits for his voice.
She’s off. A thorn in her eye. A bloodied up paw. Bailey has endured the worst of the fields she has ran across over the years. She doesn’t feel pain. She picks up the bird with her mouth, careful not to puncture the bird with her teeth. She races back to the spot she left and she sits. And she waits. The bird is still in her mouth. Bailey waits for his hand to appear in front of her. And then she listens for his voice.
My phone rang this weekend. I heard his voice.
“Bailey is retired. She had a 10 minute seizure in the field. She collapsed at my feet. She got the first bird and collapsed…..
….she’s still the best one.”
My eyes are still watering.