Earlier this week, I lost one of my best friends. Our sweet dog, Bailey, passed away at 11.5 years old. I can’t believe I’m even typing that. How did this even happen? As much as I knew it was coming – she was on the older end of an Airedale Terrier’s life span (10-12 years), I honestly thought we had a few months left with her. And I’m completely devastated. I didn’t know I’d take it this hard. I knew she was getting worse and worse over this past month and my husband and I were slowly saying our goodbyes. But I just wasn’t ready. She was taken from us so abruptly. Bailey had been hacking/coughing a lot over the past couple weeks. It sounded awful and I felt so bad for her. I kept hoping it would go away, but it didn’t. The night before she passed, I just lay on the floor with her and kept petting her head saying “I love you so much” over and over again. I guess part of me just knew…even though I didn’t want to believe it. The next morning my husband and I kind of decided that I’d keep an eye on her and would call the vet if I felt like she needed to go. We both assumed there wasn’t much that could be done for her, but I didn’t want to give up on her either. That afternoon, I finally called the vet because I couldn’t handle hearing her go through this anymore. They had an opening a couple hours later, so I took the appointment and went on with my day. As we got ready to leave the house I said “come on, Bailey!” and she looked at me with what I thought was a look of “oh, I’m coming with you?”, but now, looking back, I wonder if the look said “not this time, Mom, I’m just too tired.” We got to the vet and I said to my kids “I think Daddy is just overreacting”. I honestly still thought this wasn’t the end. Bailey stood on the scale to get weighed and afterward the tech said “good girl” and Bailey perked up as in to say “thanks, now where’s my treat for being such a good girl?!” Haha! We got into the exam room and the vet checked her out. I showed her a video of Bailey hacking and told her about her symptoms over the last month. She strongly suggested doing some chest X-rays right then and there, so we could see what was going on. Bailey already had a heart murmur for her whole life, but the vet was now hearing an arrhythmia as well. She seemed pretty concerned. I called my husband to confirm that we should do the X-rays and then sent her on her way. A few minutes later, the vet came into the exam room telling me in a stern voice that she needed to talk to me in the hallway and that a tech would sit with my kids. She then told me that they got the X-rays done on Bailey and they weren’t good. She had then put the ultrasound machine on her heart/chest to see if she could get a better view and Bailey immediately went into cardiac arrest. They tried CPR on her for several minutes, but Bailey was gone. Apparently Bailey had fluid and a tumor near/on her heart. And her heart was enlarged. I was absolutely heartbroken and in such shock. I called my husband and told him to get to the vet right away and then I went back in to see my kids. I thanked the tech for watching them and I closed the door. Immediately, my oldest daughter asked “where’s Bailey?” And all I could say is “she’s dead”. I know, not the kindest way to go about it, but I didn’t want to mince words. They had to know. Right away. We cried and cried. I still can’t believe it when I think back on how it all happened. Soon after that, my hubby walked in and we all cried again. We got to go back to the X-ray room and say our goodbyes to Bailey, which I will forever be grateful for. She looked almost exactly like the picture below (taken just a couple weeks ago). It was almost like a repeat of the night before for me. But this time I was bawling while I told her I loved her. And this time I knew that once I stopped petting her, it was the last time. I had to let go…but I wanted to stay there forever. I didn’t want to believe that my baby girl was gone. And now starts the grieving process. I’m still such a mess while the rest of my family seems to be moving on relatively easily. I seem to cry all the time. I look around the house and miss her in all her usual “spots”. I miss her when we walk in the door and she no longer greets us with that crazy bark that tickled her ears and made her shake her head. I miss her when I drop food on the floor and she doesn’t immediately get up and come rushing over trying to clean it up for me. I miss her when I walk out of the house and don’t have to say “bye Bailey, be good” as I close the door. I miss her when I don’t have to yell at her for trying to get into the trash. I miss not having to cover up the sofa because she would jump up and lie on it the instant we left the house – even though she thought we didn’t know! I miss having to tell her not to eat grass outside. I miss that crazy beard of hers dripping for what seemed like hours after she took a drink of water. I miss telling her to move when she would lie on the floor in the most inconvenient spots. I miss that soft spot that I’d always pet on the side of her head right between her eye and her ear. I miss the way she looked when she was freshly groomed. I miss the way she’d plop down on the floor at the end of the night. I miss the way we’d have to come up with code words for walks because we didn’t want to excite her…and then we’d let her in on the secret at the last minute when we were all ready to head out the door with her. I want her back so bad. I keep trying to reason in my head how I can get her back. How I can go back in time and figure out how to live forever with her. I honestly never thought this would be so hard. I mean, it’s just a dog. I never understood when people were so upset after losing their dogs. But it all makes sense to me now. We got Bailey shortly after we got married and she was kind of like our first child. We had her for several years before we had our first real child. We did so much with her and went through so many trials and fun times. She was there to comfort us in sad times. She moved homes with us. And since I became a stay at home (work from home) mom, she’s been with me just about all day, every day. I think that part has made this extra hard on me. Over the past several years, she’s just always been around. The house feels so empty now without her. Heartbreakingly empty. I’m used to feeding her, letting her out to go potty, petting her, laughing at her antics throughout the day. She was a huge part of our family. And now she’s just gone. Just like that. And there’s a huge hole in my heart where she used to be. The week before she died, my kids were out of town with their Nana and my husband and I got to take Bailey for a walk. It was just the three of us, just like it was when our journey together started. It felt so right, even though we knew that would be our last walk with her. She barely made it around the block. My husband pretty much had to drag her the last 50 feet or so. Even though that memory is partly sad, it’s such a special moment that God gave us. We kind of got to go back in time to where it all began for our little family. Honestly, looking back over this past month, I see so many moments God gave us with Bailey in her last days. And I am so grateful for each and every one of them. The newer pictures from this post are only a couple weeks old. I had wanted to get back into my photography side of blogging/documenting life and Bailey was such a great subject. God knew just a couple weeks later, that I’d cherish these photos of her more than I could comprehend. I’m absolutely exhausted from pouring my heart out into this post. I’ve cried practically the whole way through. But it shows me how much I loved that silly little pooch of mine and that makes me smile. I know time will heal and I’m certain we’ll get more dogs down the road (probably sooner than later, if my hubby and kids have anything to do with it!). But no one will ever take the place of my first “baby”. She’s my girl and I will forever love her! She was an amazing dog. She loved this family so much and was incredibly protective of her (our) kids! She will be forever missed! I hope she knew just how much I loved her!