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Yesterday I lost my best friend....

Bailie, my best friend and soulmate x

Back in 2008, I was working nights as a casino dealer, I'd had some time off due to being recently diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Because I wasn't getting any vitamin D from natural sunlight, it was affecting my mood. I couldn't be bothered doing anything more than the bare minimum... eating, sleeping, working. I was literally working, getting up and going to work, then getting back in bed, which made me feel even worse. It was affecting my friendships and family relationships, I was a hot mess.

So I decided to get myself a puppy. I had family dogs all my life, I had settled into my first flat on my own, now I would have this little life that would depend on me for everything, getting me up and out of bed because he needed me.

I trawled the internet for weeks. I had thought about adopting, but as I worked full time, lived in an upstairs flat and had no secure yard, I knew they wouldn't even consider me as a candidate, plus I wanted a clean slate, a fresh moulded being who I could train my way, to be what I wanted.

So after a few weeks of looking, yes, I went to a backyard breeder in Bolton (it wasn't as bad as nowadays, back then). The lady was very friendly, I saw his mum, there was only two pups left, a little white girl who had already been reserved, and a little black and white boy, the only boy in the litter of 7.

I didn't want a boy originally because we had always had girls in the family, it was all I knew. Anyway, my mind was made up, I would love him regardless... 80 pound later, he was mine. That would come to be the best money I ever spent. My perfect little boy.

I brought him home after ordering a dog cage online, my dad wasn't happy and thought I was tying myself down, I was to enjoy myself, I was too young to be tied to a dog.... god knows what he would have said if I'd gotten pregnant!

And so I had to name him... I'd already decided on Chui... I had been watching Big Cat Diary that week and Bella the leopard had a little male cub called Chui that she played with and spent time nurturing and looking after... PERFECT! That's ideal... but something didn't fit... it just didn't suit... A few years prior to this I'd worked as a waitress in a local pub, one that my sister, Gemma, still worked in... I found the fact that the new Bailey's Cheesecake that came in was a funny thing to say in one go (yes, I'm that immature ha!), and on a recent visit, someone had ordered a piece in front of me... THAT'S IT! Bailey!! Only, I like to rebel against the norm, so it became Bailie, something I've had to spell out constantly over the last ten years!

Bailie's Cheesecake became a thing, and he would answer to cheesecake too!

We spent every waking minute together, me and my boy, I would take him out for walks constantly, we trained together, we met other dogs, he absolutely loved kids and people, he lived for those encounters. Being a staffy, as he got older, people tended to ignore him... The disappointment in my boy's face was so evident, I used to say loudly "Its okay kid, I'll love you instead" He was quite ecstatic about that, and it didn't stop him wagging at the next passer-by or the traffic as we waited at the lights to cross the road... He used to have people in their cars waving at him.

At the time, My nephew, Nathan, was 9 years old; My nieces, Ellie and Katie, were 1 year old and 9 months old. Bailie had an incredible bond with those kids... He would slobber them all over their faces if I told him to SIEZE! Pin them down and lick them til they couldn't breathe, and they loved it! When they stayed over, which was regularly, I wouldn't get a look in, he was all for them! Nathan especially held a special place in his heart, he stayed over weekly, twice weekly sometimes, and they really loved each other. I think, aside from me, Nathan was Bailie's favourite person. If we walked past a teenager with their hood up, Bailie would always search their faces as they walked past, then it was kids in school uniforms near to where Nathan lives... wagging his tail as he went, searching for his boy. He knew to stay away from Auntie Gemma because she was allergic to him... didn't stop him politely waiting for his little scratch between the eyes she gave him with one finger, just so he had some form of contact... he was happy with that.

We would dance together, play together, I would sing to him, he would try and beat me up, it was love. He would bark at me, I would talk to him, ask him how his day had been? He would even try to steal the loo roll... eventually we traded off for a "don't steal the full roll and I will give the tube when its empty" oh and he knew when it was running low... he would whine and stare at it, then me, then back at the roll!

Throughout our time together, we had 7 homes, failed relationships, unemployment, late nights, lazy days, numerous foster dogs, numerous other pets, including chickens, ferrets, lizards, gerbils, a litter of hand-reared kittens and even a stray baby pigeon. Bailie was fantastic with all of them!

He had lots of best friends along the way... Tyla, Tiegan, Roxy, Dylen, Cooper and Ryder.

Family dogs... Jade, Olli, Lottie, Max... He kept them all in line, taught them all his secrets as they grew up... like how to get a treat by sitting patiently at the treat cupboard as soon as we walked into his Grandad and Nanny Lisa's house! He also taught Cooper and Ryder to race upstairs and wake lazy Auntie Megan up too!

As he got a little older, he never slowed down, he just went more and more grey, he went from being a tough little bruiser, to looking like an old chimp! But his love and spirit never dwindled. He even qualified as a Novice Parkour Dog, just last year, helping mummy become a certified instructor this year!

In just under a week, I have had my world turned upside down and endured constant heartbreak, watching my beautiful baby boy's body fail him.

From Monday night, when he was a little uncomfortable and bloated...

Tuesday, I had to reschedule my appointment...

Wednesday, I was told he had fluid on his stomach and to come back tomorrow for a scan. Thursday, I was told he was terminal and there was nothing they could do, or predict any sort of timeline of how long he had left...

Friday, when I had to encourage him to catch up to me on our walk...

Then yesterday... Yesterday I lost my best friend.

Because I didn't have any idea of how long I had left with my boy, I decided to give him a bucket list #bailiesbucketlist in fact!

So from Thursday, we went for a little walk, just me and my boy. He loved that and even wanted to swim in the river! From there we went to McDonald's and got him his favourite... a double cheeseburger (no onion!). We went home and straight to bed, Ryder and Cooper slept on the landing, leaving me and Bailie to snuggle all night long, as we have done so many nights over the last decade.

Friday morning came, he had a bacon butty for breakfast, we went to let the chickens out on my allotment (since the recent fox attack, he had been accompanying me every night in case of foxes - cue his tough nut march with hackles up!), we then went on a group walk with my clients dogs. He was a bit slow on this one, so we all took our time and encouraged him along. I took him home for a nap whilst I did a home visit and came home for my dinner. When I was leaving he ran to the door, so I asked him if he wanted to come out for another walk, he wagged even harder, so off we went for round 2. We nipped into the garage where my nephew works, I asked him "where's your Nay Nay?" immediately hes looking round to see where he is, goes ecstatic when he opens the door and out comes the lick monster!

After the second walk, he's very tired. We stop off with auntie Meg for a little while, then go home, I can see he's exhausted. Nathan then comes round for a little bit with a double bacon cheeseburger! JOY! Again we go to bed and snuggle til we sleep. When I wake up in the morning, Bailie is on the floor as he cant get comfortable, then he looks at me, and I know.... It is time. I'm not ready to lose him, but its not about me, its about my other half, my soulmate.

I rally the troops, take Bailie to my dads; his grandads, where we spend his last day on earth with his favourite people. All his best friends, lots of treats, including a mars bar, a chocolate hobnob and some sliced ham! He's tired, hes struggling to stay stood up for too long, but as each visitor comes to the door, he's up with that wagging tail and happy licking!

My dad, Megan, then Lisa; Gemma arrives with Ellie and Katie, he's in his element, going from person to person, but Nathan is missing, he's stuck at a garage and wont make it back in time. He was devastated and I was devastated for him.

As we arrived for the appointment. The vet is surprised by how chipper he is! It is decided he will go for emergency surgery, its a risk, but how can I not when he could potentially be saved? Then I'm thinking "oh god!! I've given him chocolate!!"

Anyway we left to go to Bolton, I got straight on the phone to Nathan to tell him he was still here and to get to the vets ASAP! As he arrived, we were still in the waiting room, Bailie spotted him and was so happy, wagging and jumping up! He wouldn't leave Nathans side!

We all gave him our incredible love, and I told him to be strong and that I loved him, and off he went wagging his tail.

Unfortunately we were just too late. He had multiple tumours, not just on his spleen, but also his liver, and the latter were actively bleeding. It was time for him to go. Nothing more could be done.

I miss him terribly, I feel so lost right now, but I have to carry on for Cooper and Ryder, they need me more than ever, and I need them.

If you are ever in a position to give your dog a bucket list, do it! I'm so glad I had the chance to make my boys last days on earth happy ones. He passed away with all those happy memories, and I know I couldn't have done anything else to help him.

Let them have those forbidden foods, let them run free, let them do naughty things like ripping up toilet rolls, socks, etc. Take them for a car ride, beach walk, snuggles on the sofa, let them sleep in your bed, let them do the things that make them truly happy, just one last time. They will absolutely thank you for it.

I love you with all my heart baby boy, until we meet again, visit me in my dreams please x

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it helps in some way, maybe now, maybe in the future,

Til next time

Michelle x

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