Like many tragic stories, this one has an element of levity to let us relieve some angst while we mourn. Even better, it’s true.
After a year of Zoom meetings and FaceTime and every other imitation of life, my vaccinated friends decided it was safe to come over for dinner. We used to do this regularly but there certainly is nothing “regular” during a pandemic. You can imagine how much we were looking forward to this. And it was wonderful. After the meal, we sat in front of the flickering fireplace and tried to catch up. It was natural to think there would be new stories, but my darling friend Laura shared a tale about her dog Bailey no one had heard before. It’s too good not to pass on.
And speaking of passing on … this story does deal with the death of a beloved pet. This, in itself, is of course not funny. I have had to bury five dogs and it never gets any easier. In this case though, it got odder. Bailey was a wonderful dog. Most dogs are wonderful. If you love dogs and haven’t read “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, you should. It’s fiction. Maybe. Bailey was getting on in years, just like the dog in the book. She became more difficult to care for, having more frequent accidents, struggling to get up off her bed, unable to run and play as she loved to do. Having a beloved pet euthanized is an agonizing decision. In many cases, though, it’s the last kind thing you can do for a pet whose quality of life equals no quality. Laura and her family weren’t ready to let Bailey go. As her last act of kindness to her owners, Bailey took matters into her own paws. She chose death by potato chip.
The family was out for the day and returned home to find Bailey had gone to the big dog park in the sky. Somehow she acquired a bag of potato chips and dug in. Deeply. When they found her dead on the kitchen floor, she had a smile on her face, salt on her lips, and the evidence of an empty chip bag. Lays family size. She had had a cardiac arrest while munching happily, her head tunneled in to get the last nibble. There are worse ways to go. Everyone cried. Of course they cried. They had loved this dog. But it was August and Bailey, in her present state, wasn’t going to be lovable for very long.
They chose a burial site on the clan farm. (More on this later.) They wanted to bury her 4-feet-deep, thinking this depth would protect her mortal remains from predators who, to be honest, have to eat, too. Four feet doesn’t sound like much unless it’s August, it hasn’t rained in two months, and you’re the one with the shovel. I applaud them, though, on their wisdom of choosing a wide open field. (Here comes the “later” part.) My sister Lisa’s 60-pound Airedale Bill died in Chicago. Our family farm is in Shelby County, a six-hour drive away. Bill got wrapped in a sheet and placed in the back of the SUV for the trip. Lisa looked over every scenic vista the 40 acres had to offer and deemed a small copse of oaks as a worthy resting place for a cherished pet. She did have help with the shovel but there were two items — important items — she had overlooked. N0. 1: during a six-hour drive rigor mortis sets in and a medium, somewhat compact, dog morphs into a stiff-legged very large dog. No. 2: tree roots.
At least Bailey had died in the salty comfort of her own home. Some dogs, who don’t have courage to eat a bag of potato chips, often take that heartbreaking trip to the veterinarian. My vet was always so great when I had to put a dog down. She would let me come in as the last patient of the day so I could sob as loudly as I wanted and embarrass myself in front of the minimum number of people. But I’ve heard another version of this saga that fits right in with tragedy/humor.
One man’s dog ate two whole bags of Dove candies. The man liked his dog but he loved Dove candies. In his defense, they are pretty good. Remember kindergarten where you get the first of many judgments from others? The owner had gotten the unsavory “U” for unsatisfactory under “Shares well with others.” I know of dogs who have eaten massive amounts of chocolate and had no ill effects. This wasn’t one of them. This dog was sick and the doctor bills were mounting. The guy started calling him “G-dog” because they had spent a $1,000 so far, not counting the cost of the candy. The family decided they had done all they could afford. The wife was crying. The kids were crying. The dog didn’t look any too pleased, either. But the man was sort of fuming … “that dog ate my chocolate, that dog ate my chocolate.” What did he expect from a chocolate lab?
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.