Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won’t buy the wag of his tail.
Bailey has always been my “puppy” compared to Shadow who was the elder dog. It’s unbelievable to me that Bailey is now seven years old, middle aged in dog years. He has definitely lost his puppy habits and just seems more “mature” in some respects. But in other respects, he just seems worried. Is it the absence of Shadow that has changed things?
Or rather, is it the appearance of Lucas, that big, sweet lunk of a dog, who is living with us for the time being that is causing Bailey some angst?
Bailey has always been so needy of affirmation, unlike Shadow, who was Mr. Confidence. I look at Bailey’s adorable little face, and can just read his eyes saying, “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” Of course, I do, dear puppy, of course I do.
It makes me a little wistful to realize that he really isn’t a puppy any longer. It’s sort of like the fact that Donnie Ray isn’t a new car any longer, nine years later even though I consider him one, compared to Bert, who is all of fifteen. And just as DR now has a number of dings and chips in his paint, Bailey is starting to get some gray hairs around his muzzle and eyes. Oh, it just breaks my heart to see them!
We have a pretty established routine, day in and day out. The rest of the time? I think he mostly sleeps, but he does have his favorite spots to keep vigil over the front yard (watching our comings and goings) and over the back yard (watching for squirrels and possums).
Wherever I am in the house, he is patiently at my feet, or rather ON my feet. I can’t move without disturbing him; he’ll shift his position and then heave a groaning sigh as if he is most put out with me for making him move. Getting out of bed in the morning, I have to be careful to not step on him.
What concerns me most is that Bailey doesn’t seem to eat with gusto anymore; I sometimes have to coax him to eat enough. When Shadow was around, he got served first, and Bailey waited for his turn. He would always clean his bowl eagerly without being picky about what was offered him. Now? It’s as if he is suspicious of his food.
If he doesn’t eat, I pick up his bowl, thinking he’ll be hungry enough the next day. Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn’t. And sometimes I’ll offer something new, just to see if boredom is the issue. So far, his weight seems fine, so I’m not too overly worried about this problem. Still…
In his early years, I would say, “Let’s go for a walk!” and Shadow would get excited, and Bailey would likewise. Now when I say it, Bailey hesitates, as if he’s not sure if he wants to go. He often lags behind, until we get to the midpoint of the walk, and then he’s the proverbial horse going back to the barn! We generally race home once we get to our street; I think he likes being at home where he feels “safe”.
Bailey does have some dog friends that he really enjoys visiting along the trail. But there are also some that he doesn’t like, and he especially dislikes it when they get in his face. Big dogs frighten him, a residual effect of when that Great Dane roughed him up 5 years ago. As sweet and gentle as Lucas is, Bailey just tenses up when he’s around. I hate that, because it would be way more fun if they were friends. He’s just so enormous!
I noted the phenomenon of Bailey’s newfound “maturity” when we were recently at the Amazing Place (an Alzheimer’s Day Center where we visit monthly). He used to be SO silly while there, when Shadow was still around. Shadow would obediently do his tricks, while Bailey just made everyone laugh at his antics; he was rather a comic foil to his older “brother”.
Now when we go there, Bailey sticks to me like glue, almost as if he is anxious about something. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I wonder if he somehow feels lost without the stability of Shadow’s presence? Is he “protecting me” from the other dogs? He just doesn’t seem as happy about being there anymore. Well, except for when I get the treats out for the folks to share with him… then all the dogs get happy!
Is he having anxiety attacks or doggie depression? How long does a dog mourn? What to do? Maybe get a dog therapist! What about the Dog Whisperer?
Am I overreacting? Perhaps so. But I can’t help but think there is SOMETHING I can do. If anyone has any suggestions, please do share them. I would love for my precious Bailey to be his old happy self again.