It was thirteen summers ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My friend Steve woke up in the morning, early. Maybe six o' clock. This was in college, when I didn't do 10 a.m., much less six.
"Hey man, do you want to go with me to get the dog?"
And so started Steve and Bailey's odyssey together. He rode up to Kentucky (alone) and brought her back to Atlanta. She was somewhere around six months old. After he graduated, she went with him to South Carolina, to Tennessee, and California. She had more roommates than most people.
Whenever I think about Bailey, I think about watching her crash into the Atlantic, going after tennis balls. She loved it. Steve would drive to the ocean after work, and hurl ball after ball into the ocean. Steve played baseball in college, and he had a good arm. Bailey would run full tilt into the surf and smash into the waves, powering out to fetch balls he threw past the break. This would go on for hours.
She never tired.
I got a dog of my own not long after Steve did. Cornbread. Cornbread and Bailey were like sisters. Steve and I were like brothers. But he was the much better guardian. I'd move across the country on a whim, and foist Cornbread off on my parents for indeterminate lengths of time until, after moving to San Francisco, I left her for good. I loved her, but I left anyway.
Steve never went anywhere without Bailey. He wouldn't even consider it.
And so she lived out the last of her long years in Pasadena, where she met a new addition to the family, and then another, and another after that. (Sorry, Ben, you deserved an announcement of your own, too. Mea culpa.) She grew old there. Too old to swim in the surf anymore, she lazed around Steve and Kari's house for the most part. She still seemed happy to see me. I wonder if she remembered me.
Steve had to put her down today at 3:30. Everyone will miss her.