Who was Bailey? (a NaNoWriMo excerpt)

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Bailey was a beagle. She was the dog my sister and brother-in-law bought just days after they returned baileymemorial-small-web-view.jpgfrom their honeymoon in October, 1995. She was a sweetheart, a demon, affectionate, vile, thieving, and thoroughly lovable — when she wasn’t driving everyone crazy.

For someone who doesn’t own dogs herself (thanks to apartment living and other lifestyle hindrances), I seem to have an instant, special rapport with dogs. Bailey was no exception. We bonded quickly, even though we didn’t live in the same household and sometimes I saw her only once a week. On the other hand, she loved just about everyone.

She possibly had the most personality of any dog I ever knew, and the most active brain. When she was young, I imagined I could hear her thinking. Sometimes Diamondqueen (my sister), TPM (That Poor Man, my brother-inlaw), and I would play Trivial Pursuit. Bailey would sit on her own chair and watch. I swore she was following the moves on the board and calculating the plays each of us would have to make to win. (Later, when her thieving ways had gotten the best of her, she never would have just sat on a chair, but would have grabbed the first game card or piece within reach and bolted out of the room.)

She was manipulative as hell. Her favorite technique was simply to turn on the charm. My sister said the beagle would practically bat her eyes, like a cartoon dog, to wheedle what she wanted. It was true. Many a time I’d feel her chin on my knee under the dinner table. I’d lift the tablecloth or peek into the shadows below, and there’d be Bailey gazing up at me. Her eyes sparkled with endearment, her mouth was slightly turned up at the corners, and she did seem to bat her eyes.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. When food was involved, Bailey simply shifted to Plan B: stealing.

She put on her “endearing beagle” act for strangers all the time, no matter where she met them. Everyone was her long-lost best friend. She’d sit erect before someone with whom she was trying to curry favor, tail wagging so energetically her ears would flop.

Bailey’s life was much too brief. She passed away in March 2005, almost five months short of her tenth birthday. Her last years weren’t as happy as they should have been, as she faced health problems and psychological adjustments to new babies, new fellow pets, and moves to new houses. But she never lost her style or her supreme talent for thievery and raising hell. For that I’ll always admire her. And I still miss her terribly.

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