Skip to main content
Now building my TET.Life Store.

Bailey - In His Shadow

Bailey - R.I.P.
Our English Cocker Spaniel, Bailey, passed away recently. He had an aggressive, inoperable tumor in his abdomen that sent him into a relatively rapid decline within the course of a few weeks.

Unfortunately we had to make that dreaded decision of pain over quality of life for a much loved family member. Bailey was struggling with going to the bathroom and holding food down. He was no longer able to go for walks and his enthusiasm for barking at next door's cat in our front yard was getting less and less.

Despite all this he still had moments where he seemed perfectly fine, even wagging his tail.

Our vet seemed to think he didn't have long with such an aggressive tumor, particularly if it ruptured, which would cause Bailey to bleed to death. Not a nice way to go, and something I experienced first hand with our cat, Casper.



We had a lot of support from friends who came along when Bailey received his diagnosis. Whilst we were all hopeful it was going to be a better outcome, it wasn't a complete surprise either. We just thought Bailey would have more time. Out vet estimated a couple of days.

---o ---o--- o---

Bailey was an impressive dog. I know this because he'd get noticed all the time out on walks. People would comment on his golden coat as well as his general size. He was unusually large for a Cocker Spaniel, with massive front paws that always made it seem like he had more growing to do.

Unlike many Cocker Spaniels he still had his full tail. Cocker Spaniels his age typically have had their tail docked (though I believe this practice is illegal now), and I can easily see why one might for damage control. Bailey was not very spatially aware of his placement within his surroundings. Our little black dog, Oscar, learned to anticipate Bailey's tail after being hit in face from it wagging so many times.

It wasn't just his tail that could be an issue as it took Bailey quite a while to remember not to just turn himself around quickly, indoors, without any thought as to what was around him. He banged the side of his head, hard, into so many walls and pieces of furniture it was astounding that he never knocked himself out cold.

Although Bailey had the nicest temperament he was often misunderstood on first impressions. He came to us as a rescue dog at the age of about 6 years old. Whilst we didn't know his early life (after leaving his parents - who we did know), his last owner was so frustrated with him that he wanted him gone ASAP, under the threat of having him put down.

Bailey came to us with
his own Thunder Shirt.
That owner, as I understand it, used to keep Bailey in the backyard with a muzzle on to try and stop him from barking. Which he would do excessively if a thunderstorm went overhead.

Whatever happened in his past, it left him with one unfortunate quirk that gave the impression he didn't like people. Whenever anyone wanted to come over and meet Bailey for the first time, I had to warn them, do not put your hand out for him to smell (as many people are taught when approaching a new dog for the first time).

For some reason Bailey would see this as a threatening gesture and was guaranteed to lunge straight at the person's hand, intending to bite, but never hard enough to break skin. It was more of a warning than anything else, and it tended to make him seem vicious and unfriendly with strangers.

However, even with people he'd snapped at, if you just let him do his own thing, without trying to pat him, he'd be completely fine in less than a few minutes. He might even come up to get a pat or some general attention like nothing had ever happened. It was just the initial meeting you needed to get right. So many people still put their hand out, even when told not to. Bailey would seem fine, then suddenly lunge.

To help we got him a bright yellow harness and lead with 'Nervous' written on it in large, clear lettering. Nervous wasn't really accurate but it at least made people stop and think before reaching out to him.

Bailey's other issue was other dogs, when out on walks. If, at any time, another dog came too close (within 2-3 metres) Bailey would bark uncontrollably at them and even attack if they got close enough. Even though we had a dog trainer come in to help us try and solve this behavior I never could get him to stop every time successfully.

Meeting other dogs on a leash was always a battle, where sometimes I could get Bailey to sit quietly, but mostly I couldn't, without me getting really aggressive and looking like a dog abuser.

Coming across other dogs that weren't on leads was a complete nightmare that I'd avoid at all costs (keeping in mind that I always walked Bailey and Oscar together and Oscar had a tendency to mirror Bailey's behavior).

Another dog coming in too close, too quick, would result in an immediate fight situation between Bailey and the incoming dog. The number of times I've had to reach in and grab a completely unfamiliar dog by the collar and hold it apart from Bailey whilst trying to stop Bailey from attacking is more numerous than it should be.

Other dog owners have often misunderstood my move, thinking I'm trying to stop their dog from hurting mine. Unfortunately it was the other way around. Bailey had already had a pretty ordinary life before meeting us. The last thing I wanted for him was to be labelled a vicious dog and potentially be put down due to the stupidity of other dog owners not controlling their dogs.

This inability of Bailey to be nice with other dogs in my presence (I've been told he was fine with other dogs when we've booked him for a stay at a kennel) along with his warning bites ultimately ended up isolating us from other people walking their dogs.

After about two years in I just got tired of trying to fix his behavior. Instead we'd go for walks when the park was likely to be empty. I also had several different routes around various walking trails and paths in our town for both variation and reducing the chance of bumping into other people with dogs.

Despite all of this, Bailey never attacked Oscar aggressively when they first met. It may have been because Bailey was in unfamiliar territory, or it may have been because Oscar is a very social dog. He loves meeting other dogs, especially if they want to play - or at least he did at the time we met Bailey.

Right from the get go Oscar would try to play with Bailey and Bailey seemed to respond. Their epic games of chasey and play fights often ending up with Oscar being 'air humped' by Bailey in some weird act of dominance.

This photo is of a pause in one of Oscar
and Bailey's epic play fights.

Oscar was always persistent. No matter how often Bailey managed to get Oscar to roll over and conceded defeat, Oscar would get right back up again and continue the fight. I have an epic series of videos of the same fight where Bailey, completely worn out, rolls over in an attempt to concede and Oscar still keeps going - despite being puffed himself.

The two of them would play less and less, largely due to Bailey's age, I think. It became harder for Oscar to get him to play with him. However Bailey was always up for a game of tug-of-war, using one of his toys, with me right up until a month or so before he passed. As well Oscar and Bailey would remain united over the problem of next door's cat in our yard - even in his last weeks.

---o ---o--- o---

Bailey is the first pet where I've been part of the decision of whether to euthanize before their quality of life becomes horrendous. Both myself and my partner were kind of hoping he'd drift away in is sleep before the day we arranged with the vet  to have him put down in our home. Unfortunately drifting away was not really on the cards for Bailey.

The most likely outcome seemed to be his tumor bursting. Then it would be a rush to the vet for a similar end to our cat, Casper. We didn't want that for Bailey.

Instead my partner held him as the vet gave him some drugs to relax and send him to sleep before being injected with a final dose that would end his time.

The whole process was tough, sad and very heartbreaking.

I watched close by, holding Oscar. I noticed, after Bailey was injected with the first round of drugs that he seemed to relax into the most peaceful sleep I'd seen him have in ages. (Bailey was something of a fitful sleeper, often twitching and waking up howling).

Whilst I was fully prepared to try and save Bailey, with operations etc. the vet didn't give us that option. Instead, we gave him, what we hope he would have wanted, and what we wanted for him, a peaceful end, drifting off in his sleep... or at least as close as we could get to making that happen.

Bailey will always be remembered in our home. He was my partner's 'dream dog' - she'd always wanted a Cocker Spaniel. There was a time when I was younger that a Cocker Spaniel was my dream dog too (that's why one of my very first cartoon characters was a Cocker Spaniel called 'Chips').

Bailey... with his entourage.
For me, Bailey was pretty much my shadow, unless my partner was home. Then he'd shadow her. He was the kind of dog that needed to be in someone's company. If Oscar was getting too much attention... or any attention at all... he'd come over and make sure you knew he was there for your attention too.

I personally think this image (right) my partner took, captures Bailey pretty well. He clearly is the center of attention, with Oscar and I in his shadow. People just noticed him wherever he went but I think he was pretty glad to have us as family for the last four and a half years.



Comments

  1. I wonder if Dr Harry could have cured his barking? It's usual to put your closed fist towards a dog for it to sniff first, but don't know if this would have worked. Sad he had to go. He would have been 77yrs old if he was 11yrs, as one dog year equals 7yrs. R.I.P Bailey. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Open or closed hand didn't matter with Bailey... he'd give you just enough time to think things were okay, then he'd lunge with a warning bite.

      Given time and training any good trainer could've helped us to fix Bailey's behavior around other dogs. Neither of us really had the time or the money for regular, ongoing behavior training.

      Delete
  2. RIP Bailey. Sorry for your loss David.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments not directly related to the post will be deleted. This includes spammy generic comments with links to websites not related to the post.


Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Post: MY SOOPER DOOPER NEW CONSERVATORY/ART STUDIO!

Today's guest post is by Artist, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate, Jo B Creative who writes for her blog, Creating My Oddessey.

You should see our (almost) brand new conservatory, half of which is my art studio. 'Lucky me!' I think to myself. Not every creative bod can boast that. It's HUGE! Like a giant greenhouse.

We first moved to our pleasant cul-de-sac house - great for raising kids - when our son, who's on the cusp of thirty-one, was four. One of the main reasons that we wanted it was that, apart from its location on the fringes of a historic market town in rural Hampshire, UK, it had a sizable conservatory looking onto the back garden. It was brown wood framed and had a corrugated transparent roof sloping down from downstairs ceiling height. On the face of it, it doesn't sound that glamourous, but we loved the idea of a conservatory. Luxury! I even liked the red brick walls which it was built against - the original exterior of the house - and the light …

Kids today are smarter than their parents?

How often have you heard it said that kids today are smarter than their parents? I’ve heard it quite frequently in the media – even Dr Phil has said it. I say speak for your self. It’s not true and don’t let the media fool you.

Today’s kids may have access to more information that may give them more choices but in my experience, they only take in what they want to hear and still make stupid, uninformed decisions. Just like we used to at their age.

Like any cross section of people there will be exceptions. There are kids that are genuinely smarter, more mature and responsible for their age. However the vast majority know everything they need to know by the time they turn fourteen. They’re ‘adult’ enough to be responsible for all their own decision making so parents should just let them do what they please…right? Just like we thought at fourteen.

Don’t be fooled. Just because your son knows how to download MP3’s onto an ipod, or your daughter can chat to five friends at the same time on he…

Boom Crash Opera Born Classic But Not Again

Boom Crash Opera are an Australian Band that reached the peak of their popularity in the mid to late nineteen eighties. They are a band that I knew about at that time but was never really excited by until they released their ill fated double album Born and Born Again in 1995 (Album cover pictured).

At the time of its release I was very much into emerging Australian musical acts and was also looking out for new sounds that were different and had kind of a futuristic/electronic sound. Artists that I was buying at the time included; Swoop, Nine Inch Nails and Pop Will Eat Its Self. As well as a really interesting release by David Bowie, the concept album, Outside.

Born was a fairly radical departure for Boom Crash Opera (BCO). The first single, Gimme, was often compared to the sounds of Gary Glitter, particularly his single, Rock n Roll part 2, because of the pounding drum loops. Watch the video below.



My favorite single from the album is dissemble which probably went nowhere on the char…

What If Being Yourself Isn't Good Enough?

One of my most personal public videos is a collection of outtakes edited together with my narration, read word for word, from my blog post written back on August 5th, 2007 titled Is Being Me Good Enough? I made the similarly titled video the next day.

At the time the video (which you can view below) generated some discussion in the comments and was a real turning point for me personally in how I thought about myself and how I presented on camera. It took a weight off my shoulders.


[Note that especially for this article I've re-edited and re-uploaded the video to Youtube because the last sentence on the original version was cut off by Youtube's uploader. The new version is identical other than I've added a title screen at the beginning and cropped the footage for 16:9 ratio - plus added some length to the end to ensure it doesn't get the last line cut again.]

I came to be thinking about this video again because of my latest video diaries - which I will be the first to a…

"You are the Generation that bought more shoes..."

"You are the generation that bought more shoes, you get what you deserve." This quote is a song lyric that I heard on the radio (my apologies to the writer and artist that it belongs too because I don't know who either of you are). It's a great line and I can only assume it refers to the apparent lack of interest today's eighteen to twenty somethings appear to have in more serious and deeper issues.

Not that I'm trying to hold myself up as someone who campaigns strongly for the greater good of human kind or that I spend significant amounts of time raising awareness of important issues. I'm certainly not a poster boy for changing the attitudes of people with too many shoes but lyrics like that do make you think.

It's at this point that I really don't know where to go with this article. Should I focus on the material nature of modern society and its obsession with having more stuff? Or should I mention a few important issues, like Human Rights Abuses,…

Multiculturalism, Muslims and Australian Immigration

Recently a friend sent me (and a number of others on their email list) the following chain email, that has been circulating around Australian email boxes, asking for my opinion on the message.

Just before you read it I'll pre-warn you that it relates to immigration laws and ideas that I'm sure many countries are grappling with in this post 911 world.

I've reproduced the email as closely as I can to how I received it, complete with large typeface. Have a read and then read my response. The email is titled 'Go the Dutch'. The comment in red is by the last person to forward the email to my friend.


About time the Australian government did the same......why do we suck up to these people whose "values" are from beyond the dark ages ,who still live the way they did 2000 years ago. 

Go the Dutch - but why wait until 2013?

The Netherlands, where six per cent of the population is now Muslim, isscrapping multiculturalism:

The Dutch government says it will abandon the l…

Momentary pauses in cyberspace...

I got to thinking about blogs and the fact that anyone can leave a comment to my posts. When someone comments, the polite thing to do is to respond with a comment under theirs. This may prompt an additional comment but really that person has no real intention of in depth discussion. They're just passing through.

It's a lot like walking down the street with a complete stranger approaching from the opposite direction. Your intention is to simply pass them by but as you come within talking distance the stranger says 'Hi, nice day isn't it.' Like they needed to share that little highlight of information to brighten your day too.

You can smile and nod in agreement, or go so far as to say 'Yes isn't it' whilst passing by without so much as a break in stride. It's all that is required to be polite.

Sometimes though, you want a bit more from your stranger. Why did they decide to say 'Hi' to you? Unfortunately you can't back track and ask your stran…