When Bailey was seven, she attempted to jump over an eighteen inch barrier placed between the kitchen and the newly cleaned carpet in the living room. Although very athletic, she lacked the agility to jump any height, and slammed her elbow into the obstruction. She successfully cleared the jump, but blood streamed from her injury. Needless to say, the clean carpet required almost as much attention as Bailey.
A trip to the veterinarian and four stiches later, we returned home with Bailey prancing around with a newly acquired bonnet. I am sure many of you know the type of headgear she wore. Made of ¼ inch semi clear plastic, resembling an upside down lamp shade, and held in place by the dog collar she wore around her neck. The hat design prevented the wearer from licking wounds or removing stiches. It also worked as a blinder, so walking through doorways became hazardous to her health.
Her sense of distance disoriented, she became frustrated with her bonnet and attempted many means of removal. However, the hat remained in place. At dinner time, Bailey discovered her hat made it difficult to locate her food dish and impossible to eat. Anyone who spent any time with Bailey knew her favorite pastime, other than chasing squirrels, was to eat. Being a very intelligent lab, she managed to modify the shape of the inverted cone hat and devoured her meal.
After slamming into doorways for a few hours, she developed a sixth sense of her environment and safely passed from room to room. Her travels were slowed, but she safely reached her destinations. That same afternoon, my husband, Bill, took her out back to play ball. She had difficulty running to fetch her favorite squeaky white ball and soon lost interest. One can only crash into a tree so many times and then the fun is lost. Bill decided to throw her one last ball, directly towards her feet. He had confidence she would be able to pick it up and then return it to him. Imagine his surprise when she used her inverted lampshade hat to catch the ball as if it were a baseball mitt. She scooped up the ball in her hat and ran over to his feet, sat and waited for him to claim the ball.
By the end of the two weeks required for her elbow to heal and the stiches removed, she had managed to bend, crinkle, and remake her hat. No activity had been too difficult for her to manage. And her sweet mood and wagging tail remained a constant. She embraced life and its challenges with a zest we could all admire.
A few weeks later, Barkleah arrived on the scene. Bailey spent the next few years teaching him and learning from him. Next time, I will begin sharing the lessons we all learned from those two partners in crime.