The first time I saw her adorable face, I was searching petfinder.com for a new friend for my miniature dachshund, Frieda Pixel. It was the spring of 2006. I'll never forget Baila's ad. Her foster mom did the best job of cropping a photo of her wearing a hand-me-down light green sweater. She was on a sofa, her front paws curling into a blanket in front of her. Facing the camera, the ad read:
"My name is Baila. My foster mom has no sense of style! I need a home with a mom that will give me some nice clothes and buy me a purple hat!"
And that was it. Frieda and I drove from Chicago to Michigan to meet her as soon as our paperwork was approved. Baila was the perfect companion for my little doxie. A slender dog that wore a big smile, was happy to meet you and she wasn't phased by the attitude of my short, bossy companion. And Frieda seemed to like her, too. It was a match. Baila was so happy to hop in the car and go with us. Then, as we started pulling out of the long country driveway, Baila realized that she was leaving the foster home she had known for the last three months. Her big eyes welled up with tears which began rolling down her cheeks. She looked straight @ me as if asking a question and I told her not to cry, that we would try to make her so very happy. Once we got on the road she settled down next to Frieda. And for many, many years they were the very best friends. I made it a point to tell her every single time that I remembered that first day, "Thank you for coming to live with us. I am grateful that you are here and I will always love you." I was and still am grateful for every day she was with us. When I think of her the first word I think of is Grace. The second word is cheerful.
I adopted Baila as a six-year-old puppy mill rescue. She had a serious heart condition most of the time we were together. Her body required a lot of maintenance to keep her alive, but her spirit was always easy. Many have been the times that Baila greeted a new person by throwing her front paws around their necks (especially little kids) and licking their faces all over with her long tongue (which was rarely pulled in). Baila traveled well. Eventually I ended up with 5 pets living together: Miriam, Claudia, Frieda Pixel, Baila and B.J. If one of my other animals needed attention, Baila let me give it to them. She was as happy napping on a cushion as @ my side. I often joked that she was like the perfect middle child. She wasn't a complainer or much of a barker, except for food! Oh how funny that the skinniest toy dog just loved to eat. Maybe one day in her entire life was she not feeling well enough for dinner.
Last Friday morning, I was on the phone talking to a good friend about what would most likely be Baila's very last car ride to the vet. I said to him, "You know, Baila's been cheating death for the last two or three years." His reply was, "She stuck her tongue out @ it!" Nothing could have been more true. :-) And that is how I will always remember my baby, my little girl.
May her spirit shine as a star in the Heavens. May she stand as an example for others who ask, "What is Grace?" Grace is being thankful for what one has and never having concern for what is lacking. Grace is being cheerful in the face of physical difficulties. Grace is being joy-filled...for no particular reason. I've learned a lot from her. And saying good-bye to her has changed me in ways that I can not explain and do not yet fully understand.
God bless, Baila.
Thank you, Baila. Mommy will always love you.
A Debt of Thanks
Baila saw more veterinarians than any pet I have ever lived with. Thanks to them, we were able to extend her life several happy years. She was treated with Western Medicine, Homeopathy and Eastern Medicine. I would be remiss not to thank everyone that ever treated her. Here they are in the order that Baila knew them:
Dr. Dickes - Uptown Animal Hospital, Chicago
Dr. Lilja - Uptown Animal Hospital, Chicago
Dr. Robinson - Easton Commons Animal Hospital, Houston
Dr. Cooper - Cooper Animal Clinic, Houston
Dr. Stiles - Tanglewilde Veterinary Hospital, Houston
Dr. Donaruma - Houston Mobile Veterinary Clinic, Houston
Dr. Clive - Midtown Animal Hospital, Houston
Dr. Ong - Tanglewilde Veterinary Hospital, Houston
Dr. Parkerson - Tanglewilde Veterinary Hospital
Dr. Millichamp - Eye Care for Animals, Houston
and a very special thank you to
Dr. Parkerson and her assistant Laura
for helping me say good-bye to our friend with kindness and compassion