Bailey- 2022 Purple Paw Award Recipient

People often say they adopted their best friend. I had the great privilege of adopting my soul mate. Her name was Bailey, and she was a black and tan coonhound. Her eyes were amber pools of solace. Her long, velvet ears became security blankets to comfort me throughout the hard times. From July 13, 2017 to February 26, 2022, we shared life in all its ups and downs.

”I went to the Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center on July 13, 2017, searching for a dog to train as my service dog. The staff suggested Bailey, the calmest dog in the shelter that day. During our meet and greet, it was instant love for both of us, and she went to her forever home that day.

“Bailey spent the next nearly 3 years being trained and working as a service dog. She loved the work. She spent every day at my side, performing specific tasks to help with my disabilities. But more importantly, she spent every day encouraging, comforting, and loving me through the lonely and difficult life of chronic illness. We did everything together, from crisscrossing the state for medical appointments to the mundane and sometimes overwhelming tasks for a disabled person like going to work and buying groceries. Bailey loved saying hello to everyone we met, and we had countless encounters with strangers where Bailey sensed they needed a little of her love and attention because they were having hard days

“Bailey’s time as a service dog abruptly ended on June 13, 2020, when she broke a leg while running. Scans revealed it was bone cancer, and I made the decision to amputate and end her career as a service dog. Our roles reversed, and I became her caregiver through a complicated surgical recovery that lasted for two months.

”Bailey’s days of being in public were over, but she continued to have the same love and care for me as before. She always slept by my head. She snuggled with me every night. I would always tell her goodbye when I left for work, and she always greeted me at the door with tail wags and puppy kisses when I returned home.

“Sadly, the bone cancer recurred and caused another broken leg on February 26, 2022. She passed away peacefully with me holding her head and giving her kisses while she snored. Her ashes were spread around a tree where she loved to watch the squirrels, and the wind spread her throughout this town filled with people she loved.

”I wish each of you could have met Bailey. She was more human than dog in her intuition and was the best teacher of unconditional love. Bailey stayed by my side through dark nights of the soul from chronic illness wearing me down. There were times she was my reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I rescued her once; she rescued me too many times to count. She knew when someone needed to stare into her brown eyes and fill their souls with her unconditional love. In a world often harsh and sometimes scary, Bailey was the gentle presence saying don’t worry, we’ll make it through together.

“I miss her every day. And I’m so thankful for each moment of the years we spent together. I would like to say thank you to Maclean-Cameron for introducing us so many years ago and for honoring Bailey’s spirit with the Purple Paw Award.” – Valerie Kamps