71: Don’t Ever Do That Again

71: Don’t Ever Do That Again

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Don’t Ever Do That Again

Fun fact: A famous Husky named Balto saved hundreds of Alaskan lives in 1925 by delivering the diphtheria serum to their remote area in harsh weather.

The decision was not an easy one — in fact, I agonized over it for days. I had never boarded Bailey, my beautiful Pyrenees-Husky mix. In fact, we were seldom separated. We had travelled together across the vast width and depth of the United States and through a good part of Mexico.

I would pack our lives in the trunk of the car, open the rear door of the old Buick and, with Bailey in charge of the back seat and me at the steering wheel, we’d spend long days together on the road. She rested her white snout and cold black nose on the armrest and watched every truck that passed. Every now and again, she would nuzzle me or I would stroke her as I talked and she listened. We took leisurely walks every few hours, and when we stopped for the night, she would snuggle down on her blanket on the floor, completely trusting that I would always care for her.

And she believed this to be true until I boarded her at a doggy motel.

Bailey and I were wintering in Arizona when my daughter invited me to drive home to Ottawa, Canada, via Michigan, not only to visit her, but to attend the theater performance for which she had designed the sets and lighting.

It was important to both of us that I attend. However, there was one difficulty — her husband was seriously allergic to dogs. Bailey could not stay with me at their home. It was also not feasible to stay at a people hotel because during the four-day visit I would be out and about to places where she couldn’t join me. Usually, when I visited Michigan, it was directly from Ottawa, and I would leave Bailey at home with my other daughter, but this time I had her with me. The only possible solution was a doggy motel.

After considerable research online, and having my daughter obtain glowing references from people who had used this specific facility, I finally booked Bailey’s stay. After agreeing to pay for extra walks, special treats and broth with her food, I still hesitated to leave her. Sensing my reluctance, my daughter thought I would be happier if I saw her room. It was a large cage! She had never been caged. Reassurances that it was clean, that she would be safe, have two very long walks a day and that the staff would go out of their way to see to her comforts, I left her. I phoned three times that day to make sure she was okay, was eating and wasn’t pining. I phoned each day after that to check on her, and when my visit was over, I followed my daughter through the back roads of Michigan to collect her.

When Bailey was ushered into the reception area, she took one look around and headed directly to my daughter, who she hardly knew. I was being deliberately snubbed. I put it down to being in a strange place. Once she was in the car, I reasoned, she wouldn’t be confused.

Calling her, I headed for the Buick. She walked right by it. I herded her back and into the back seat, kissed my daughter and headed for the highway to Canada. Bailey immediately sat, turned her rump to me and looked out the back window. No amount of coaxing would entice her to lay her head on the armrest where I could reach her for her regular head scratches and mommy pats. She stayed this way to the Canadian border and beyond. I stopped at a rest area to stretch our legs, for her pit stop and new-place sniffing challenges. Fastening her extendable leash, I stepped aside so she could jump out of the car. Bailey quickly pulled away from me, staying at the end of her long lead, did her business and barely tolerated my forced petting and hugs. Back in the car, she repeated her angry stance and ignored my existence.

Hours later, we stopped in Oshawa to visit relatives. Bailey happily ran in the door, greeted everyone with tail wagging and doggy smiles, then went to my cousin and sat at her feet with her back to me. I was not in her favor, nor did she want any part of me. I was feeling really guilty and somewhat sorry for myself. Would my dog ever love me again?

Back in the car, I pleaded with her, promising to never, ever board her again. I told her how I wasn’t happy at having to do it, how I had phoned every day to check on her. I made promise after promise that it would never happen again. I told her she was a good girl and I was a bad mom.

I’m sure I detected a smirk as her big, woolly white head appeared on the armrest, and her wet nose touched my arm. After seven hours of torturing me, I was finally forgiven.

We were companions for fourteen years. True to my promise, I never, ever boarded her again.

~Molly O’Connor

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