My Dad and Bailey – Saying Goodbye
By Melanie Ross
Bailey is our Border Collie. He’s amazing! He goes to work with my husband almost everyday and has most of the guys trained to keeping the kind of treats he likes in their work stations. My Dad worked for my husband and did lots of deliveries for him, usually taking Bailey along. He was my Dad’s co-pilot.
My father was diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer in September of 2012. Dad was kind of a silent observer and didn’t waste much time on what he would consider useless chatter. My Dad didn’t always have a ‘way with’ people, but he had a ‘way with’ dogs.
Towards the end of his first round of chemotherapy he would have almost a week of feeling poorly. I spent a lot of evenings and weekends over at their house just hanging out and watching tv. Our Border Collie, Bailey, was always with me. All I had to do was walk to the door and ask if he wanted to go see his pappy and he was at my side.
Bailey’s personality isn’t what most people think of when they think Border Collie. He’s a hard core player when he is outside, but when he is inside, he is like a 90 year old man. He’s just laid back and extremely docile. He’s also kind of an independent dog. He loves people, but he pretty much likes to be at your feet rather than on the couch beside you. So Bailey spent a lot of time laying at my Dad’s feet, which was good because my Dad’s skin was so fragile you could hardly touch him without hurting him or tearing his skin. We had to be careful the dogs didn’t get excited and jump up and hurt him.
About a year into his treatment Dad decided the treatments were just too hard on him and he was having so few good days that he made the decision to just let things take their course and enjoy what remaining days he had. He did pretty well for about six months and then he really started to decline. He went from a cane to a walker, to a wheelchair, to being mostly bed bound in a short span of time. Our visits increased and Bailey was always happy to go and just lie near Dad, wherever he was.
My Dad’s last two weeks were hard. He could barely get around and it took my husband, brother, mother and myself to be able to keep him at home. Hospice was called in at this point and we moved a hospital bed into the living room so he could be where everybody else was. My husband, brother and I took turns staying there. Anytime I was there, so was Bailey.
Dad’s final two nights were bad and we ended up calling hospice in both nights. The morning my a Dad died I was getting ready to take Bailey for our morning run. We had slept on the couch to be near him and hospice had been in the night before because he had such a bad night the previous night. At this visit we decided we should put him on morphine to get ahead of his pain rather than to try and catch up with it once something happened. As I was getting ready to run, I was texting my brother and my husband to ask if they thought I should wake Dad to administer morphine or let him be because he was breathing so steadily and he was so peaceful. During this time Bailey walked into the room and laid his head on my Dad’s bed at his hand and just stood there. After a minute or two he walked over to me and laid his head on my lap, too. I looked at my Dad and realized Bailey was trying to tell me my father had passed away and he had been there for him. I walked over to check on my Dad and he was gone. Bailey knew the time had come and he was there for him.
Lots of things have to happen when someone passes away at home. Hospice comes and pronounces the person deceased, family members come to pay respects, and the funeral director comes. They take care of your loved one and then take them to fulfill their final wishes. As they took my Dad out on a stretcher and loaded him in the van Bailey came outside with us all. We were all standing there when Bailey put his paw on the bumper with full intentions to take my Dad’s final ride with him. We had to call him back.
It is unbelievable to me what a dog can sense and I don’t know how he knew, but he did. All I know is I feel better knowing that Bailey was there for Dad in his final moments and I know it was a comfort to my Dad, too. What Bailey did for my Dad that day is something I won’t ever forget. As I said, he’s an amazing dog.