Scrolling Headlines:

An open letter to the students of UMass -

March 24, 2017

Pat Kelsey informs UMass AD Ryan Bamford of change of heart just 35 minutes before scheduled press conference -

March 23, 2017

Past and present UMass football players participate in 2017 Pro Day Thursday -

March 23, 2017

Pat Kelsey reportedly backs down from UMass men’s basketball coaching position -

March 23, 2017

Students react to new fence around Townehouses -

March 23, 2017

‘Do You Have The Right To Do Drugs?’ debate held in Bowker Auditorium -

March 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to build on three-game winning streak against Brown -

March 23, 2017

UMass softball riding five-game win streak into first Atlantic 10 showdown -

March 23, 2017

Sanzo: Inability to win close games has hurt UMass baseball -

March 23, 2017

Hannah Murphy scores 100th career goal in UMass women’s lacrosse 16-9 win over Harvard -

March 23, 2017

Old age does no harm to indie rock legends The Feelies -

March 23, 2017

A track-by-track breakdown of Drake’s new project -

March 23, 2017

When a president lies -

March 23, 2017

Let them eat steak, and other gender norms I hate -

March 23, 2017

Dissecting Science: Episode Two -

March 22, 2017

Holy Cross 10-run eighth inning sinks UMass baseball -

March 22, 2017

UMass students react to Spring Concert lineup -

March 22, 2017

Letter: Vote yes for Amherst -

March 22, 2017

You don’t have to walk alone -

March 22, 2017

Tyler Bogart and D.J. Smith lead UMass men’s lacrosse during three game win streak -

March 22, 2017

Man’s best friend

(Photo courtesy ofSteven Gillard)

(Photo courtesy ofSteven Gillard)

When I went home the week before Columbus Day weekend, I said goodbye to my dog, Bailey, for the last time. A 16-year-old Australian Shepherd/Husky mix, Bailey had been a part of my life since I was four years old. She was a friendly dog with two different colored eyes, one brown and one blue, a unique trait I never failed to brag about to my friends when I was younger. Whenever any of us opened the closet that stored the leash, she would run around the house in anticipation. She would spend thunderstorms hanging out in the basement with me.

Unfortunately, as Bailey got older, she began to suffer from severe arthritis to the point where we had to confine her to the main floor of our house. My parents made the decision to put her to sleep a few weeks ago when she began falling down and was unable to get herself back up.

I came home for Columbus Day weekend, and for the first time in my life, opened the door to a completely empty house. I realized that, after all those years, I had accepted Bailey as a part of our home, a part of the family that would always be there. Accepting that she was gone was a lot harder than I anticipated.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like to own a dog to those who never have owned one, but it’s definitely one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have. The sense of companionship, of friendship and of unconditional love is one that is hard to find in this world. She greets you with licks to the face as you open the door after a long day. She sits next to you happily as you rip open presents on Christmas Day, her own stocking stuffed with dog treats hanging from the mantle. When you come downstairs in the darkness to get a drink at 2 a.m., she’s lying there, keeping an eye out, making sure the house is safe.

Few feelings compare to that of walking your dog down the street, seeing her bark with excitement as she crosses paths with another dog, or throwing a tennis ball and letting her chase after it with pure joy, bringing it back to you again and again and again until she finally tires.

I’ll miss the little things, too. I’ll miss Bailey trotting over to the kitchen every time I take the cold cuts out of the fridge, looking up at me innocently, waiting for a slice of cheese. I’ll miss her loud barks whenever I wrestle with my dad or the doorbell rings. I’ll miss her dashing out into the yard after the first big snowfall of the year, leaving paw prints in the snow.

But most of all, I’ll miss having a friend to talk to, a friend who always listens and never judges. Whether I had blown the game or bombed a test, I could always come home, sit down next to Bailey, scratch her behind the ears and know that she still loved me no matter what.

For those of you that have never owned a dog, believe me, it’s worth it. There is a reason why anybody who walks through this campus with a dog on a leash is treated like a celebrity. There is a reason why dogs are called man’s best friend.

Bailey played a huge role in my life, and now that she’s gone, there’s an emptiness in my house, a space next to the couch where she used to curl up every night, a space where her dog bowl used to sit. I miss her, but I will always look back on the times we spent together fondly.

I’m now in college and she’s now in heaven, but we grew up together, and nothing can ever take that away.

Steven Gillard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at sgillard@umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Man’s best friend”
  1. Kevin says:

    Steve, thank you for sharing your memories. I grew up having a dog and it is true there is no better companion when we are young. The loss of my dogs also taught me a lot about death and holding on/letting go.
    Thank you for sharing your memories, and awakening some of mine.

Leave A Comment