Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bailey is home again.

Yesterday the vet called to say that Bailey was ready.

She may be, but I'm not. As long she wasn't here, part of me could believe Daniel, that she was really just still at the doctor, getting "fixed."

I'm so grateful for Niels during all of this. The morning after she passed, he went around the house and put all her things away in a box I can look at later when I'm ready to decide what to keep. I heard him crying as he did it, so I know it wasn't easy for him, and my heart swelled with gratitude that my husband loved my dog as much I as I did.

It got me thinking of some of my favorite Bailey memories. In my book, I described Bailey as "my heart on training wheels." When I first brought her home from my mom's house, I was a single career woman, a new homeowner, writing my first book. I was mighty independent, and not at all confident that I had room in my heart to love anyone unconditionally, let alone a pet.

It didn't take long to see that Mom was right. I did need a dog. As I opened my heart to Bailey, she showed me how to give and receive love freely. And one day, when Niels came to visit, she showed me how to recognize a keeper of a man, too.

I was quite sore from a car accident, and Niels was visiting me in Michigan at my townhome. I had just gotten comfortable on the couch when Bailey let me know in her insistent, enthusiastic way, that she needed to go OUT. Niels took pity on me and offered to take her outside. I told him where the baggies were, and warned him that if she went #2 that he'd have to clean it up.

A few minutes later, they returned, Niels went immediately into the powder room with the baggie. I heard him empty it into the toilet and then gag. I heard him wash his hands, and a moment later he came out. He never once complained or even commented how this little task made him sick. I thought to myself, "Now this is a man who will stick around."

We were engaged a few months later.

Before we were married, Niels bought our current house. Bailey and I had been living with friends nearby. It made sense that when Niels moved into the new house, Bailey would move in with him. During those few months, Bailey totally became a Daddy's girl. She LOVED licking Niels' ears. She still love me, of course, but she had a special affection for her Daddy.

It didn't take her long to look to her Daddy to take her out in the morning, and get her daily tummy rub when he came home from work. All day long she would watch for his car, and her ears would perk up if a Ford Fusion drove by. In her last weeks, Niels was kind enough to let me take the lead with Bailey's care, even though she was truly our dog by then.

Niels brought Bailey home last night. There's no way I could have done it. I don't know when I could walk into that vet's office again. They sent her home with a nice paw print, a lock of her hair, and a nice card.

We ordered a nice photo urn for her, which will be here in a few days. With the house getting ready to sale, we wanted something could blend into the background, but still let her be close to us.

Sweet dreams, Bailey Boo.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sweet Dreams, Bailey Grace

Early Morning Thoughts on the First Day After

Walking back to our car was first worst thing.
No tugging on your leash
No jumping to the seat
My lap was empty with only your collar.
The rain mimicked our tears.
Pulling into the driveway,
I couldn’t help but look through the window
To see that you weren’t perched on the couch
I swore we heard your "woof woof woof"
And the jingle of your collar when we stepped inside
You’re nowhere
And everywhere.
Your leash hangs silently on its hook
Your dish disheveled on the floor
Your food, untouched.
The indentation of your withered body
Still caves your favorite spot on the sofa
Your favorite toy lays lonely on the floor
Your last treat remains, half enjoyed.
It was time, sweet girl.
But not enough time.
At nighttime, you were part of our routine
One last trip outside
One last sip of water
Last night’s lasts were the last lasts.
You didn’t bound up the steps
Brushing my leg in your rush to our room.
How can our big bed suddenly feel so small?
How can our thick comforter lack any warmth?
You didn’t lick my husband’s ears.
You didn’t cuddle into my side.
How can I possibly sleep?
I woke up early and often
And you weren’t there to coax me back to slumber.
My husband slumbers
Because you weren’t there to wake him with a nuzzle
And request to go outside.
I sit here
still feeling the tremor of your last days
And thanking God for all of our good days.
I peek in on our young son
And wonder how we’ll make him understand
That our vet couldn’t “fix it.”
Couldn’t heal you.
How will I answer when he looks for you?
No more shared meals with a toddler.
I’ll have to start sweeping the floor.
You were my helpful shadow,
And the reflection of my life doesn’t look right now.
Who will tell me when the mail is here?
Or the garbage is being picked up?
That company has come?
Or that Daddy is home?
I have no wild barking to calm.
No tummy to rub.
No four-footed observer in my kitchen.
An empty space under
—and empty chair at—our dinner table.
Our laps will remain empty
Our hands won’t know what to do.
No more 8 o’clock bursts of energy.
White flashes around the room.
No more smiles of pure joy.
No more paws upon our hands.
No more thump-thump as you jump to the floor.
In the coming days,
We’ll remember what we forgot.
All the sounds you made as the symphony of our home.
Your stage is silent.
How can one who cannot speak say so much?
You’ve been so much more than a dog.
You were my heart on training wheels.
And you taught me how to love.
You’ve been a mile marker in my life.
You’ve been with me from single to married to mommy.
You’re part of all my important moments.
I don’t know why I thought if I lost you now,
It would be easier somehow.
What is ever easy about a final goodbye?
I miss you, sweet girl.
Thank you for being part of my life.
Thank you for a good life.
Thank you.

In memory of Bailey Grace with a Silly Face
April 14, 2001 – March 5, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011


About two weeks ago, Niels woke to the fragrant aroma of Bailey diarrhea. The next morning we woke up to vomit. We called the vet and brought her in. After checking her out, the vet put her on a sensitive stomach wet dog food. Bailey LOVED it and nearly knocked me over every time I put some in her bowl. She was also on an antibiotic and something to settle her stomach. She didn’t throw up for a week.

I called the vet when we were done with the dog food and asked what I should feed her. She told me to make her some chicken and rice until her follow up in a few days. She ate it the first day, but not the second. At her appointment, the vet said to try her regular food again. She had no interest. The vet then suggested Iams Sensitive Stomach dog food. She turned her nose at that as well. Then we went to Petsmart to get some wet sensitive stomach food. While we were there, cute little puppies were going through their obedience class exercises. I haven’t been in Petsmart much since I left Grand Rapids, so I was immediately brought back to when I took Bailey to obedience school. It was the first time it occurred to me that this might not end well.

The next day, Bailey threw up again, even though she had hardly had anything to eat. The vet told us to bring her right in. Daniel was napping so we didn’t get there until about 3:30. We left about 3 hours later, without Bailey. She was dehydrated and needed IV fluids to rehydrate, more meds to settle her stomach, and more meds to help with the pain she was now feeling. We agreed to have blood drawn and an X-ray done. Her X-ray was mostly normal, but her blood work showed that her liver numbers were astronomically high. One panel had to be diluted 6 times and still didn't even register.

After another 3 days in the hospital with more meds, more blood work,and ultrasound and seeing a specialist, all we know is that Bailey is in liver failure, but we don't know why. For another $3,000, we could do a biopsy, but in reality, she probably wouldn't survive the surgery because her blood isn't clotting well, and if even if she did, we're either going to learn that she has cancer, which she wouldn't survive, or something else she wouldn't survive. As her regular vet told me, as she sobbed with me Wednesday, "The only reason I would advice you to do the biopsy, is if you need to know WHY to live with the decision you need to make."

So Thursday, for me, was about coming to peace with saying goodbye. It's been brutal.

We repeated her bloodwork four times this week. The fourth time actually showed a little improvement--diluted six times, her numbers actually registered, but at the absolute top of the scale, still astronomically high. However, at the point nine of the markers were off, instead of six.
Despite almost a week of intensive care, she is not getting better.

Thursday night, we brought Bailey home for the weekend. She's not eating or drinking much at this point, but she's had a hydrating IV for 4 days, so she'll be okay even if she doesn't drink much at home. I admit, bringing her home for a few days is all for me. I'm having a REALLY hard time with the fact that we never made time for a family photo with all four of us, so I need that before I can say goodbye. We ordered a fancy new camera, which arrived on Thursday.

When I first brought her home, she was so happy to back in familiar surroundings. She even 'talked' to Mom on Skype and looked healthy. The only way you knew she was sick is because of how yellow her eyes, ears and tummy were. But, by 8pm, she was sad again and shivering.

Friday was a somber bittersweet day. I took a TON of pictures of her and Daniel, including the one at the top of the page. When Daniel napped, I realized that it the last time with just the two of us. When Daniel woke up, we took Bailey for a car ride (one of her favorite things) and brought her to the lot where our new house will be built. It breaks my heart that she won't be moving with us. It was pouring rain, so I didn't get to let her out, but she's been there before.

It's been good to have her home. I needed this time to say goodbye and the chance to do all those "lasts." More importantly, I had to know that she wasn't the same Bailey I have known and loved for almost ten years. It's been heartbreaking to see her refuse food and shiver and be sad, but I need to see it too, so that we could know that we were making the right decision.

Our friends Tiffany and Andria came over this morning to take our family pictures. Neither Daniel nor the weather cooperated very well, but we have some pictures of all four of us, which was the last thing I needed.

Our prayer today is that she will pass quietly and peacefully tonight in her favorite place, snuggled between Niels and I. If not, tomorrow we will take her to vet for the last time.

I am just devastated. Bailey is the last carryover I have from my pre-TBI life. I've already lost my job, my writing career, my house, my name (I don't mind that part so much!) and my car. The last few years have been filled with so much loss, Bailey was all I had left, she's been through so much with me. Maybe this is the best time because we're putting our house on the market (was supposed to be this week), and it will be easier when there isn't a dog in the house, and it gives us more options for apartments when the new house is being built, blah blah blah. But it still just bites.

Thanks to all of you who have loved my sweet girl.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Project 365: Day 50 (February 20)

Home. One room done, many to go. This room was the least finished. After painting it in September (after 4 years!), we kinda stalled. Today, we put up the art, shelf, frame, new mirror (not visible) and added new rugs and towel.

Project 365: Day 49 (February 19)

Home. We are putting the house on the market next week so we'll be busy busy busy getting the house cleaned and staged. I always forget to take a "before" picture so here is our back living room, aka the least staged room in the house.

Project 365: Day 48 (February 18)

Solida Home. Tonight our small group gathered to celebrate Kylan's 4th birthday. While some might drool over those hot chocolate cupcakes, I drool over that Kitchen Aid in the corner. D, as usual, had his nose in a book. He is SO my child.

Project 365: Day 47 (February 17)

Home. We enjoyed a GORGEOUS 50 degree day today. All the ice on our driveway melted and a good bit of the snow. We are so ready for spring!

Project 365: Day 46 (February 16)

Day 46: February 16. Home. A bit of scary day for Bailey dog. After waking up to vomit for the second day in a row, I took her to the vet, where she had blood work and x-rays. We were able to bring her home while we wait for results. The drugs tuckered her out pretty good.

Project 365: Day 45 (February 15)

Aultercare Assisted Living Center. Daniel and I spent the morning visiting some local Gramma and Grampas. He loved playing with this woman's bracelet.

Niels and I have started observing No TV Tuesdays. Instead of retiring to the basement when Daniel goes to bed, the idea is that we can work on a project around the house, play a game, read or do something not media related. After seeing what a rock star Daniel was this day, I was thinking this might be a family service project we can all do. It's seems pretty perfect for us because Daniel can participate and it's flexible enough to work around my bad brain days.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Project 365: Day 44 (February 14)

Home. Happy Valentines Day from Daniel!

Project 365: Day 43 (February 13)

Home. The first of many family traditions was kicked off tonight as all three de Jongs made chocolate pretzels for an early Valentine's day treat.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Project 365: Day 42 (February 11)

Charis Homes Model. Daniel checks out the latest Charis project: The Daniel. (Elmo watches in rapt attention).

Project 365: Day 41 (February 10)

Kuts for Kids in Canton, Ohio. Other than being an extremely unfortunate name when translated into Dutch, we really like the stylists at D's salon. He was so so tired when we brought him in, thus the tears and clinging to Elmo. But he's so proud of the result!

Project 365: Day 40 (February 9)

Home. Daniel loves his milk...and his paci. So why should he have to choose?