It was October of 1999 and I had just settled into a new rental house outside of my duty station at Camp Lejeune. I really wanted to get a dog, so I went down to the local animal shelter and found a very sweet, very skinny German Shepherd mix. She was really shy, but after looking into those eyes, I had to have her.
She was 5 or 6 months old at the time and I spent quite a bit of energy and resources trying to get her healthy. It didn't take her long to come around, though, and before long she was a happy, healthy puppy and we were enjoying our time together.
She traveled around with me from house to house, all the while being a super good girl as I served my country. When I moved back home after I got out of the Marines, she went with me, but after being home for just a few short months, I decided I wanted to move back down to North Carolina. My parents offered to let Bailey stay with them at their house to make it easier for me and I decided it would be a great idea. My parents have 10 acres and I knew she'd love having all that room to run around.
For the first couple years after I was gone, she stayed my dog even though she lived with grandma and grandpa. When I would come home for visits she would stick to me like glue and my dad would tell her what a traitor she was. As time went on, though, she became my dad's dog. She was always happy to see me, but she was much more loyal to him, and they were best buds. She would ride around on the Gator with him, take rides in the truck to go get hot dogs, and follow him around the yard like the loyal Shepherd she was.
As is the case with most Shepherds, though, as she aged, her hips got worse and worse. They tried several different medications to keep her comfortable, but the one thing that seemed to work the best was Carprofen. Once she was started on that, she had a whole new lease on life and was doing really well. But over the last couple months, the pills hadn't been quite as effective as they once were. She'd been slowing down and having more trouble with her hind end, but she was still doing the things she loved. We all started to wonder about how much longer she would have, but the vet said as long as she's still doing what she loves, let her enjoy it.
Every time I went home to visit, I'd give her an extra hug and kiss and tell her how much I loved her just in case it was the last time I got to see her. We shared our last moments together this past Christmas because she was laid to rest this afternoon.
I hope Annie was there to greet you as you crossed over the bridge. Rest peacefully, sweet girl. You'll be missed.