I adopted you to be my walking companion.
We were going to go for daily vigorous and soothing 
walks on the mountain.
You were going to keep me moving, motivated and fit.
You were a terrible walking companion in the city. 

You grew up with no leash and in open fields 
with all the free time in the world
to sniff out every edible treasure, no matter how vile.  

When we were outside, connected through the red leash,
I was nothing but a nuisance to you; a killjoy, a drag--
keeping you from your freeform treasure hunt for everything: 
discarded sandwiches near the school, oil-soaked paper towel from a hole
which you expertly and quickly made in someone’s garbage bag, 
or worst of all, 
the poop from the neighbourhood dogs, 
left on the ground by their neglectful owners.

And you were a nuisance to me—-hurting my arm when you pulled, 
and keeping me from the freeform day-dreaming I would have preferred 
on our walks.

You were adorable though 
when the snow had freshly fallen— 
in your gleeful glide headfirst onto your back, rolling around in it.  
Or when you would stick your whole head into a fresh white bank 
to sniff for buried treasure and emerge with fluffy snow 
on your snout and eyebrows.  
You were magical in those moments Bailey.

And you melted my heart every time you would circle on the couch 
near me, so close, in order to settle in, 
as squished together as possible.
Your head under my arm, 
my arm resting on the back of your neck, working on my computer.  
You did this every day.   
Every day for almost four years.

You delighted us, and the whole extended family,
when we learned how much you loved to swim that first summer together.  
You were insatiable in your appetite for running off the end of the dock, 
and leaping off, and splash-landing in the lake
for swim after swim after swim.  
Between each short swim 
you would roll around in the earth under the cedars, 
and jump in again.

 And you listened to us.  
 When it was time to go up to the house, you followed.  
 When it was time to wait, you waited.  
 When it was time to lie down, you lay down.  
 You were a different dog off that damn leash.  
 You were happy.  You were beautiful.  
 You were stinky (from being wet so much).

When I had to administer medication to you, 
or clean your chronically yeasty ears, 
you were so cooperative.  
You seemed to like the special attention.  
And I loved giving it to you.  
You were such a good dog in those moments Bailey.  
Such a good dog.

 We adopted you when you were 10.  
 You had suffered two great abandonments by then—-
 the first when your owner 
 (a woman named Sarah who was moving and could not take you with her) 
 left you and your more docile brother Tully at the SPCA Montérégie.  
 The second abandonment was when Tully was adopted first, 
 leaving you alone in a small room most of the day and night
 because you were grouchy and aggressive with other dogs.  
 You had been there for 6 sad months when we adopted you.  

You were quite anxious and did not want to be left alone for long.  
In fact, you always wanted to be with us.  
And we loved having you close.

Your last year on this earth involved many declines—
the strength in your back legs diminished, 
your sight deteriorated and 
eventually your hearing went too.  
We adjusted to the changes, we kept a careful watch.  
We wondered if you were suffering, if you were in pain.  
You stopped wanting to climb the stairs after your slower and shorter walks.  
We moved downstairs for you.  
We walked you more often, more slowly, and for less time.  
We cleaned up your poop in the house as you lost control more and more frequently. 
We worried and wondered if you were suffering, if you were in pain.  
We gave your pain medication and injections for your arthritis.
We increased your pain medication.  
You seemed confused more often—you looked and acted lost.  
But still you snuggled in close as often as possible, 
and you enjoyed your meals, and licking our plates, 
and the delight of whatever table scraps we would give you, and, 
most of all,
the duck tenders.

The duck tenders were your last passion. 
You had stopped eating your meals, and stopped pooping.  
You had stopped wanting to go out for walks.  
But you still loved the duck tenders.  
You were passionate about them until a few minutes before your heart stopped 
and you left your body, in Luc’s arms, on the bed at the vet’s.

You were not my ideal walking companion Bailey, as I had hoped.  
You were the most affectionate, interactive, responsive, intelligent dog I could have imagined.  
You got me out of bed every morning, first thing, no matter what.  
With you, I went off, and stayed off, anti-depressants, 
and I emotionally survived the horrifying years with a hateful 
and dangerous man in office in the White House.  
You were beside me that whole time.

I miss your body, your smell, the damp skin in your underarms, your silky soft ears, your various ways of communicating with me and telling me what you want, your fake sneeze that meant yes, your joy with the fresh snow, the dock, the water, the paths in the forest—and most of all the snuggles on the couch.  I miss you curled up beside me, in a ball, with your head on my lap, or between my legs with your head on my thigh as we both napped on the couch.

 I love you Bailey, my surprising dog companion.  I miss you.