Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dog Tale

Not the current dogs, but a memory of the Late, Great Baileydog. My kids grew up with the funniest, sweetest, bravest, most wonderful golden retriever, his name was Bailey, aka Baileyboy and the Baileydog. I have a million stories about this dog, and how brave, funny, smart, and all around perfect he was, but this is the one that popped into my mind all of a sudden.

We built a backyard pool while girl was a baby, and both kids learned to swim at insanely early ages. Girlchild took her first underwater solo under the watchful eyes of her mom and swim teacher at the age of 10 months. Boy was older when the pool was built, so he was 3. Both took to the water like dolphins, and by the second summer of the pool I was confident enough to sit on the deck with a book and let them swim. As I recall, Girl could swim the length of the pool by her 3rd birthday. Boy was older, almost 5, so of course he could. My role was to glance up from my book and yell, "NO running on the deck!" at random intervals. But back to Bailey.

Bailey was about a year old when the kids were turned loose in the pool, and as little kids tend to do, they splashed a lot when they swam. The splashing of small child swimming alarmed Bailey - he did a smooth, elegant water dog paddle without causing any splashing at all, what was wrong with the kids? Were they in DANGER? So Boy would be swimming the length of the pool, the summer before his 5th birthday, and Bailey would dive in, take him ever so gently by his upper arm, never leaving a toothmark, and pull him to the steps.

And Boy would yell, "Bailey, cut it out! MOM! Make him stop RETRIEVING ME!" And Bailey would be sorrowful, because why didn't his beloved Boy appreciate his efforts to save him?

Having a pool in the backyard and two hot weather birthdays made party planning a snap. There were a few years that it rained and we did the Dreaded ChuckEofCheese, whose only virtue was that the parents could drink Bud Light to numb the pain, but mostly I just turned the kids loose in the pool, served hotdogs and hamburgers and birthday cake and ice cream, sent them home stuffed and exhausted, and called it a day.

But those birthday parties were hard on Bailey - all those kids, all that splashing and shrieking, the poor boy was a nervous wreck trying to keep an eye on everybody. I'd have to put him on the screen porch to keep him from jumping in and retrieving random children. Oddly enough, some kids were uncomfortable with an 80 lb. dog diving in, grabbing their arm and pulling them toward safety. They didn't feel rescued, and it scared the hell out of them. He didn't understand. He'd stand at attention on the screen porch, never taking his eyes off the pool, sometimes pacing nervously, because dammit woman, children are shrieking in the water and you've locked me up, I can't save them and you are deaf to their cries! Even the dog thought I was a slacker mother.

He's been gone for 10 years, and while I love the Terriorists dearly, I still miss my Baileyboy. A sweeter, funnier, smarter, braver dog never was.

And boy, I'm so glad my memories weren't lost to the aneurysm - I can't tell you how grateful I am.


emmy said...

Catherine I loved your story about your Baileydog. We have a golden Retriever at our Nursing/Rehab Center and her name is Bailey. She is a sweet caring dog beyond belief and so gentle with the seniors- Guess it's a good thing we don't have a pool.

Restless Knitter said...

He sounds like he was a wonderful dog. Thanks for sharing that story.