She’s still the best one.

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.

“Bailey.”

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.

“Drop.”

“Good girl.”

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.

Bailey, at 73, with her final bird.

Bailey, at 73, posing with her master, Scott.

8 thoughts on “She’s still the best one.

  1. It must be tough to be the second best bitch in your man’s life. Hahaha, well crap, that sounded better in my head, but I’m going to just keep it here anyway. My lab is almost 14, and has lost all interest in retrieving anything ever again. Still, they’re good dogs. It’s sad to see working dogs “retire” since they really love what they’re doing. Retired police dogs still get all excited and wound up when their owner gets dressed to go to work, so it’s extra sad that they have to stay home and just lay on the couch instead of going out to find bad guys.

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    • Lol, it’s true. I am second in command bitch around here.
      I don’t know if Bailey will ever lose interest in retrieving. I know she would go back out if Scott asked her to. I asked Scott if she was sad when they went out to the fields on the 2nd day and he said she probably was as they drove off. I think she knows she is done. She’s been sleeping a lot for the past few days.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chaz Spedding says:

    It is a sad day when your hunting buddy can’t go anymore. I’ve had 5 Brittany’s that have passed away after their hunting times were done. One was our first and best family dog ever, Jenny, she put up with our son crawling all over her when she was pregnant and pulling on her whiskers and she would just look up at us like get this kid away from me.

    I’ve had to deal with them getting hurt during hunting from stitches, to dislocated shoulder to being shot and they always came back ready to please you. I lost one of mine a # of years ago after taking her hunting and having to carry her back to the truck when she couldn’t go anymore, she went outside the next day and laid down in the rain to die, so I brought her back in the house and went to work and knew I would have to take her to the vet to put her to sleep that day, when I came home at 9 to take her in she had already passed away in her kennel.

    Its amazing how attatched we get to the damn dogs and forget when they’ve chewed something up, made a mess in the house or just frustrated the living shit out of you. They become such a part of the family that all your friends and family always ask about them or talk about how good of a dog one of them was.

    I feel for your husband as I know what its like when you can’t take them hunting and know that they’re not as happy having to stay at home. I’m sure you’ll get another dog and he or she will be a great addition to the family but will be hard to live up to the best/first family dog you all ever had together. I’ve got another Brittany now, he’s 3 and he and I have had some growing pains as I’ve always had female Brittany’s, but he’s turned into a great hunting dog and companion even though my wife still refers to him as “your” dog when he doesn’t mind her.

    May your lab live a long life of leisure at your feet.

    Chaz Spedding

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    • Thanks, Chaz! I just read this to Scott (he rarely reads my blog). He is touched that you feel his “loss.” I wish Bailey could stay at 3-4 years old for Scott. She was always gentle with our babies/toddler/kids. She even tolerates my little Yorkie Poo. I need to frame this picture for Scott. Bailey looks so proud.

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  3. You had me laughing and crying here, Julie! Laughing at your comments about Bailey’s farts and her peeing on you. And I was intrigued by the pheasant now that my son is a hunter. But, awwww. So sad that she is having seizures and getting too old to accompany her master on these special trips. :((

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    • I know, it’s sad. I think she knows it was her last time too. She really was the best hunting dog. I’m sure the girls and I will be playing “dead bird” (catch) with her in the backyard. She’ll like that.
      Oh, your son is in for a hobby! Be happy he isn’t at Scott’s level of obsession – alligator. I worry like his own mother when he goes alligator hunting. At least an angry pheasant can’t kill him…

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  4. KatieKSU says:

    Damn, I don’t know a thing about hunting but I love my 4 legged kids. This made my eyes water too much. My 14 year old better just hang on for fear that I won’t make it with out him!

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