When the rescued rescue

She makes it look so easy.

My teenager, still a boy-man, does not believe in showing weakness. I completely understand this; at his age, weakness can be received by peers with scorching disdain.

But our “rescue” dog is aptly named. We call her a rescue because we thought we saved her from the pound. Turns out, she rescued us. In a world that does not always understand or welcome tenderness—inaptly naming it weakness—Bailey is the antidote. She came to us just days after my divorce was finalized, anxious and distrusting. And frankly, so was I at the time. We’ve healed each other. And now she is healing my boys, bit by bit.

Her easy manner with my eldest is what will see him through his father’s second—and possibly last—bout with cancer. My son does not want me to talk about prognosis, treatments, stages. But I see the tears in his eyes as he watches his father go from wheelchair to hospital bed. They belie his macho exterior. He stoically says nothing of import about the elephant in the room sporting a capital C. Instead, he talks of lacrosse games, the NCAA tournament, dessert after dinner—pacing as he talks.

It must be hard, I think to myself as I watch them together in the hospital room. It must take great energy to keep the fear behind the wall he has put up in his heart.

This thought stays with me as we drive home from the hospital. He is quiet, serious, a bit impatient.

But when we open the door, Bailey awaits. Her joy is palpable, replete with a tail wag so effusive her entire body wags with it.

He hunkers down on the sofa, Bailey curled up next to him. Her wet nose nuzzles him as her sloppy kisses land on his mouth, hands and feet. He buries his face in her fur. Amazingly, they sleep almost instantly.

My youngest, given to bursts of sadness or anger at a moment’s notice since the diagnosis, seeks our furry girl out frequently. In the morning, I awake to find he has crawled into my bed and fallen back asleep—with Bailey in the middle of the two of us. Her paws drape over his form protectively, as her nose nuzzles his back.

She asks for nothing. She does not want to talk about, analyze or advise on anything. And perhaps this is part of her magic with our boys. She looks at them with a devotion akin to worship. She gets them out of bed on Saturday mornings and sits watch on the stairs until they’re safely back in those beds Saturday evenings.

Without a word, she rescues my boys from something none of us can keep from happening. As fear drills another hole into their hearts, she fills it with a love that demands nothing in return.

I think, for her, it really is that easy. And for them it’s a godsend.

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47 Comments Add yours

  1. Aren’t dogs wonderful? So giving, so kind. They ask for nothing and yet give everything. Loved this.

  2. I’m not sure how I missed this one. I needed a good cry this morning. Beautiful, beautiful post.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I’m glad I was able to make you cry–wait a minute–aw, you know what I mean:).

  3. speedyrabbit says:

    And she is so very Beautiful too,xx Speedy and Rachel

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I think so but am hopelessly biased:).

  4. Those little boys of yours are quickly becoming young men.

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes! I try not to think about what that means I’m becoming:).

  5. Dogs are the best therapy!

  6. Our dog helped us to live again after the long, terminal illness of my mother and through the terminal illness of another family member. Though he wasn’t a rescue dog in the sense that Bailey was, he did rescue us.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love that. I’m always amazed at people that look at dogs as creatures without a soul. How can you look into those eyes and think that?

  7. Susan says:

    Crap you made me cry in the school pick up line.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m so sorry! And yet not sorry at all.

    2. candidkay says:

      Oops, that last comment went through too quickly. What I meant was that the one of the nicest things you can say to a writer is that they made you laugh, cry, or think differently. It’s the highest compliment. Thank you and I’m glad the piece touched you!

  8. Kat says:

    Man’s best friend. Sorry to hear your family is going through a tough time now dealing with your sons’ father’s illness. Time will heal, they say.

    I have begun to love dogs, thanks to my aunt and cousins who are dog lovers. Unfortunately, I can’t have one because I live in a condo and am not at home half the time. But I love having them around 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I love that you realize it’s not time for a dog! I feel sorry for the ones cooped up all day with no interaction. I hope some day it will be the right time for you, though.

  9. srbottch says:

    Very nice, Kay. You have your hands full. Dogs are such wonderful companions. Great listeners. Forever forgiving. The silent strong type that let us live them when we need it most. Good luck with your boys.

    1. candidkay says:

      She is definitely strong if not very silent :-). A bark that sounds like a bear. But we love her!

  10. Keeping your family in prayer. Love has the most amazing power!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). It certainly does. Saves us all.

  11. Gem Stone says:

    The power of animals is unbelievable. They see our fear. Understand our sorrow and heal our grief. A dog I had who died at the age of 18 comforted me through divorce, the loss of a child and cervical cancer. When I lost her it was like losing another child. They truly are amazing.

    1. candidkay says:

      18! That’s amazing. And wonderful:).

  12. A beautiful post Kristine. We don’t need words to heal.

    1. candidkay says:

      And sometimes, they even get in the way. Amazing, isn’t it?

  13. I am so pleased you have Bailey’s unconditional love to help you all through this sad time. I too have found love and blessings with every pet I have had and am still grieving the loss of my little rescue dog who died on the 30 dec giving me a sad start to the New Year. I will be getting another rescue dog very soon as I miss the wonderful welcome home and the love she gave me.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I am so glad you will get another dog! I know none will replace the sweetie you lost but as I’ve watched my neighbor mourn the loss of his 3-year-old dog I see how happy he is now that he has plans to get another this summer. They bring joy, that’s for sure.

  14. suemclaren24 says:

    Minor point given the honesty of this post – is it Bailey or Baily? (I suspect the “e” is just missing, para 9). I have 8 animals, all except one being rescues, for exactly the reasons you describe.

    1. candidkay says:

      It is Bailey, Eagle Eye . . . :). Loved either way.

  15. Ah, Kay. This is such a lovely and true testimony to your furry girl. I relate. Every member of our family, too, has been blessed with the warm support of our pets.

    1. candidkay says:

      They’re angels with fur:). I’m convinced of it.

  16. This is beautiful – thank you for sharing such intimate family moments with us. Amazing the role Bailey is playing – filling holes that humans maybe couldn’t. Sending my best wishes to all of you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for being so gentle with the moments I share:). Not easy but I think what we writers are here to do. Bailey is amazing. I hope she is with us for a long time to come.

  17. Judy says:

    How funny that my post tomorrow is about my own furbaby. They are angels. I’m so glad you have her, and she has you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too:). Can’t wait to read about your angel.

  18. What a beautiful story of an impossible situation. Hug your babies, even your fur baby.

    1. candidkay says:

      I will. The whole lot of them:). Thank you for the kind words.

  19. darlasue22 says:

    So beautiful!!! Love does heal. Unconditional. Unexpected. Just love.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s about all we have in the end, right? Just love–more than enough.

  20. They are a beautiful Godsend those furballs. They bring us back to life with their unconditional love, nudging us past ourselves, regardless of where we are at, showing us the way 🙂
    Thank you for sharing Kristine, it is a difficult time, but it brings that one thing to the surface that we need to face….those feelings that we lock away. Expressing them will allow any fears or grief to be healed and resolved.
    They must be spoken or they build the walls that we hold within, making it more difficult to live with their weight on our shoulders.
    It will come as they are ready, for you and them…just listen.
    For you as well…speak your truth with another, someone you trust, and allow your healing as well.
    It has been waiting for this time.
    Love and light to you all.

    1. candidkay says:

      You made this tough old bird cry:). Such a beautiful sentiment, so beautifully put. Thank you from across the pond (several ponds:)). And you’re so right–she nudges us past ourselves every single day. At my feet this moment, awaiting a dropped morsel from my egg sandwich:).

  21. Sounds like you have a gentle guide for such an impossible terrain. I imagine this is a complicated experience for you, too, Kay. Wishing you all strength and comfort with every step of the way.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. It’s an unusual journey, yes. Not questioning–just taking it as it comes.

      1. I have no doubt you will handle it all with grace and wisdom, humor and empathy.

  22. Our rescue dog has done the same for me through some of my own personal heartache. It truly is amazing how much comfort and unconditional love these giant furballs offer us when we most need it. Im glad your boys (and you) have her!

    1. candidkay says:

      They are amazing, aren’t they? Love hearing that you have a rescue! More than one life saved:).

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