There once was a pup named Bailey…

Yesterday morning I went back in to finish the remainder of the MRI scans leftover from Monday.  This time I was prepared;  my leg had been elevated all night, so swelling was down, and I took two percocets before starting the appointment.  This combined with the a slightly different position on the table with my leg slightly bent made the three hours much more tolerable.  Aided by the percocets, I laid there half asleep in a day dream state but couldn’t fall full asleep with the noise from the MRI machine and occasional twinges of pain.  My mind kept drifting off to memories of our dog Bailey.

Back in college, Shannon would occasionally house sit for one of her professors who had a shnauzer.  She grew to love the breed, and as we got closer to graduation started to want one for us.  Growing up with barn cats, I was never much of a dog person, so in her usual fashion she resorted to rationalization (she’d make a great saleswoman).  As a diabetic, she explained to me how shnauzers can detect when your sugar is low and can be trained to paw at you as a warning.  Seems like a glucometer would be much more effective?  I’m not sure why, but this convinced me to at least go look at some puppies.  That was my mistake, you can’t look at them without taking one home…they’re cuter than I expected.

If we were going to have a dog, there at least had to be some ground rules.  Most importantly, no climbing on furniture or sleeping in the bed.  Sounded reasonable, but it didn’t even last one night.  When that tiny little pup started whimpering on the floor by himself the first night, it was me who pulled him up on the bed.  I became a “dog person” pretty quickly and Bailey became a family member.  That’s why when he passed away from liver disease at only three years old, I had a really hard time.  We have tons of great Bailey stories, so at night Shannon and I will tell each other our favorites from time to time to keep his memory alive.   Like wic-a-wic-a Wegmans, I always insist that we start with “There once was a pup named Bailey…”

So the stories that kept coming to mind on the MRI table…after college my first job took us to Chesapeake Beach, MD.  We had an apartment on the edge of town and this is where my most vivid memories of Bailey are centered.  First, there was the time I was changing the oil in my car.  Shannon came outside to hang out for a while along with Bailey.  When she went in she left Bailey out and asked me to watch him.  Somehow I agreed without realizing it; probably in a deep focus just to eliminate the distraction.  About 15 minutes later when she came back out he was long gone.  We looked all over and couldn’t find him.  Then on the next street over, we heard a neighbor’s chickens going crazy.  Of course that’s where we found Bailey menacing the chickens.  As anyone who’s ever watched Bailey knows, he was an explorer.  Right George?

He was also pretty excitable.  One training rule we were taught was that we should ignore Bailey when we come home he help break the separation anxiety.  How can you ignore him, when you are feeling the same anxiety?  We’d walk in to him jumping up on the top of the recliner so he would be eye level and pet him like crazy.  He would always be most excited to see our good friend Eric.  We warned Eric that he needed to be calm around Bailey, but he’d always scream his name when he walked in the door and “saturate” him with attention.  That might have been alright with their own family dog Willie, but Bailey must have had a weaker bladder.  We’d feel terrible, but Eric would insist that it was okay that his shoes and pants were sprinkled.  Bailey learned to recognize the sound of Eric’s car, and we knew from Bailey’s reaction when it was Eric.

Shannon seemed to pick up a new toy for Bailey everyday, which was fine except that the floor would be covered with them.  This didn’t mesh too well with my moderate case of OCD.  I’d pick them all up except for one, and put them into a basket on the top shelf of the closet.  He must have been able to smell them up there.  One toy wasn’t enough, he’d force his way into the closet and bark until he got your attention.  Shannon was sure he was playing hide and seek, but I’m confidant he just wanted more toys.  His favorite was a cow femer that was bigger than him.  It seemed like he should tip when it was in his mouth it was so big.  He’d carry it to the top of the stairs and drop it, so it would clunk all the way to the bottom…definitely nosiy.  He’d do it over and over again.  Pretty sure the neighbors next door were a little agitated by this?  Ahhh Bailey, the stories go on and on.  He was my best buddy!

When the MRI tech came back into the room I had a couple tears in my eyes.  I think she thought I must be sad about everything that was happening to me, but it was purely good memories of Bailey.  After the MRI, I went directly to a pre-operation appointment with my surgeons Dr. Mitten and O’Keefe where I got some relieving news.  They were encouraged with what they saw such that they no longer thought they would need to take a stomach muscle as a flap.  The surgery this Friday will be a straight forward incision, tumor removal, and stiches.  When they asked if I had any questions, all I had was can you take pictures of the surgery for my blog?  Dr Mitten agreed.

Afterward, Jeff, Ken, Dan, John, and Tracy stopped over for a while making it easy to put surgery on the backburner for a while.  Another nice night of stories over a couple beers.


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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20 Responses to There once was a pup named Bailey…

  1. Lisa says:

    ahhh. The power of prayer…

    Picture in your mind, a line of all of us twisting, turning, down as far as you can see. We’re with you every day. I know it must be hard to imagine just how many of us there are. In my mind I see your map of where you’ve been and all these people and (animals) lined up, and cheering. There’s strength in numbers and we’re on your team..

    Alaska… get ready or not, here comes Brett and Shannon. We all look forward to that RED line showing your new travels.

  2. Cousin Mike says:

    I remember back to Peglow road, when Karmen was little enough to be scared of Bailey as he ran around and tried to hump her leg. Not to worry, I scooped her up and saved the day.
    True story–my mother in law actually showed us a picture commemorating that event about a week ago. Funny how things like that coincide… maybe there is a reason that everything happens…

    • Matt says:

      I remember Bailey liked getting “piggy-back rides” as one kid who didn’t know what was actually happening called it!

  3. Cousin Geoffrey says:

    I once had a cat named Dr. Mittens…

    Best of luck today, Bret! We’ll all be thinking of you!

  4. Cousin Michelle, Mario, and Simona says:

    Thinking about you today Bret!
    I guess dogs are just like kids- Simona shares a lot of similarities with Bailey- and I with Shannon- I have to pick up a new toy everyday (Mario hates it) and then when we pick them up she always seems to know where we have put them. I guess she has a nose for that too!
    Love the Edward Sharpe Tshirts. I got their CD for my car and you are right- awesome driving music!

  5. david says:

    by the time you are reading this you should be done, so hope it went well, and if you guys need anything, we are 300 yards from the hospital, come on over or just call, we’ll be away on saturday and sunday, and if you are going to be there for awhile, and shannon you need a nearby place to sleep, relax or park, use our driveway and come on over and get a key. Make yourself at home.

  6. Danielle says:


    I’m sure Jeff would be more than happy to share his similar thoughts (and my saleswoman-like rationalization) about obtaining Tyson. He’ll deny it, but I’m pretty sure (when no one’s looking), he loves that little dog.

    At the risk of sounding sappy-slash-new agey, please remember that animals (here or passed) are healers. Bailey came to you in a time of stress and need and helped your time in the MRI machine pass with memories of his antics. One of the many reasons that I love animals is that they have the power to help us focus and take our minds off of our challenges…if only for a little while.

    We’re all thinking of you today (and everyday), Bret. Before you know it, you’ll be back on the road, riding in the good direction, and heading for Alaska.


  7. Ray Ferran says:

    There is nothing like a good dog…..we had a wildman Shih-Tzu about 12 years ago who totally took over our life. He was the toughest 15 lbs. on earth, thought he was a big dog. I don’t know how he got the name “Stinky”, but it did fit him.
    Anyway, this guy picked him up one day at my storage bldg.(said he thought he was a stray), and for over a week, we were totally in mourning. It was unbelievable. So through putting up lots of posters, calling anyone we could think of and even an ad in the paper, this guy contacts me. Said he had to have a vet check him( lie), get him groomed(lie) and his little girl fell in love with him (likely) but he couldn’t afford one, so he charged me $400. ransom. We were so happy to get him back, I gladly paid. Everyone said to call police or refuse to pay, but the joy of reuniting with Stinky dog totally removed any anger or resentment I normally would have had. Seemed like a ‘steal’ to me.
    He’s gone now, but a least we didn’t have to always wonder where he was.
    Thanks for sharing your Bailey stories, brought back good memories of my Stinky dog.

    BTW…I don’t know if Betsys opening tonight, but it’s First Friday at the Hungerford.
    I’ll be open for a while. Stop by if you’re in town, lots of good galleries open and most put out snacks and wine

  8. HP says:

    Great stories of Bailey! Though I never got to know him, I feel like I’ve gotten to know his furry personality through Shan – and now you. Pets are a special part of our lives and our families. 🙂

    SOOOOOO thrilled to hear that today’s surgery won’t be as invasive as originally thought! Woo-hoo! That’s awesome! Hope all goes smoothly and you’re able to get back on the road soon.

    Love and hugs to you, Shan, and the rest of your family!

  9. Makiko says:

    I’m again impressed by the power of the pet dog. A lot of people have one, but there are those occassional special ones like Bailey who could make our lives feel so much more fulfilled… even “from above”! Glad to hear that Bailey helped you through the MRI.

  10. Aaron says:

    Hey Bret! You’re on the top of my mind today! Can’t wait to talk to you!

    Ah, the Bailey and Benji experiences…. Oh yeah, and when Benji nipped you in the arse! He warned you!!!

    Bailey was an exceptional pup! Thanks for the stories!

  11. Marianne Borrelli says:

    Oh how I love the pets!! Remember our dog Kato? He lived through Mom’s fire. I have a picture of him with an oxygen mask on from the fireman that was in the D & C. He got me through my teen years and my Dad’s death. Pets do have an incredible healing power.
    Now I have a 12 lb. Jackapoo named Madison Marino Taylor Thomas Ricky Williams Borrelli .He’s all boy and loves to play football at age 11. Can you guess where the kids got his name???? Not my idea! Fred said no upstairs and no in bed. Fred soon left for a 6 week work study program in Japan and life hasn’t been the same since!!! Much Better!!!!! Eric has a schnoodle named Eugene, Caroline and I picked out for him, to help him adjust to his new life in Florida. Caroline had a dalmation who is a sweetheart. Now how on earth all 3 of them ended up with me….. I don’t know!!!!
    Caroline has brought her cat over for a visit as well!! They get along great and have a blast together…NO I WILL NOT KEEP THE CAT>>>> Eugene is really just visiting
    ( since Christmas) until Eric moves into his new house! Walking 3 of them can be a challenge , especially in the snow. We have many funny stories and memories as well. I will miss Eugene when he goes home.

    Good Luck with surgery. I had foot surgery last Thursday. Can’t wait to get on with recovery and able to walk again. SOON!!!!!!!
    Tell some more good Bailey stories. They make me smile!!! Pets are great!

    Thinking of you today and always.

  12. john and judy hoefen says:

    We have a yellow lab. She is five now and part of the family.She loves to go for rides and visit with company.

    Alaska is a awesome place. We were there some years ago. In July the fireweed is very prevalent.The landscape had a reddish tinge where ever you went up north.
    Alot to look forward to see. Never saw the sun go down while we were there.

    Hope all went well with your you can get back on the road soon.

  13. Debbie says:

    There once was a pup named Bailey….

    You had Shannon and just moved into your home on Rawley Street and it was my very first visit to Rochester to visit you guys. Mom and Dad got the guest room and I got that very, very comfy green couch.

    It was late at night and I was just beginning to doze off when I felt a little give on the sofa and I looked up to see Bailey climbing over my body and making a bee-line for my face. I smiled at him as he licked my nose, sniffed me a few moments and then proceeded to make his bed for the night right on my chest. I petted him for a few moments as he began to huff and snore in his sleep.

    I can remember that incident so clearly in my mind that it too brought tears to my eyes to remember such a wonderful and loving pup. I can still hear Shannon’s little 3 octave wail of Baaiillllleeeyyyy as she called for him. He was a remarkable dog taken too soon from you guys.

    But I like to believe in that Rainbow Bridge poem that all our beloved pets are just waiting for us. Knowing Bailey, he has a huge bone in his mouth and is just waiting for it to drop.

    Good luck today, you’re in our thoughs and prayers!!


  14. Thomas says:

    Bret and Shannon–
    Seeing your words about Bailey made me think of my own dog story–the pug Lucy that Lauren I just got–and how similar your story is to ours. I wish the two of them could have met. I really miss that little guy. Thinking of you both. –Thomas

  15. Bree Miller says:

    Oh Bailey! Didn’t we have to leave him for a day when we went snowboarding? He was the cutest little dog!!! So cute! I bet him and Diesal would get along nicely! Love you both!

  16. Mary Beer says:

    There once was dog named Lucky. She was an Australian Shepherd with one blue eye and one brown eye….have to admit that it was kinda spooky sometimes. Anyway, I got Lucky when I was still single and she got me through some pretty tough times. Now, when Jim and I got married, Jim just loved dogs so he started spoiling Lucky….the pre-Jim days saw Lucky eating only dog food and dog treats. I was bound and determined to raise this dog right! Well Jim was raised with always giving the dog a little bit of what you ate, so over time Lucky started getting a little chuncky. The best Lucky story was the day (and I’m laughing even as I write this) Jim and I were watching TV and eating Cheetos….and naturally we shared with Lucky. A little while later we went upstairs to Jim’s office and started to pay the bills. Lucky was a good girl and just always wanted to be in the same room that I was in, so up she came to the office. Well, we weren’t up there very long when Lucky farted and low and behold, orange powder appeared on the white carpet. I thought Jim and I would never stop laughing. The lessons that we learned is that perhaps Cheetos do not digest very well, perhaps Cheetos are not very healthy food choices for us or the dog, and lastly, for goodness sakes….when eating Cheetos…check your underwear!!!
    Lucky’s been gone for about eight years now and I still miss how much she loved me and how happy she was everytime I came home. We have a mini Ausi now, Yogi who brings us great joy.
    Thanks for sharing your Bailey stories….neither Lucky or Yogi would ever play with toys…if you threw a ball, it just hit them the head. You gotta love a dog!
    I’ve praying for you on and off all day, specifically that this procedure will bring you some relief.
    Almost everyday now someone has asked about your bracelet since it sticks out since I don’t wear a lot of orange….when I’ve shared your ride…many more are joining the prayers lifted for you, Shannon and all the Hoefens.

  17. ELISA says:

    There is nothing like a great and memorable dog. He sure was a cute one. We have great memories of both Baily and Benji. We have been thinking of you and know that you will do well. Thanks for sharing the great stories.

  18. Tara H says:

    Thank you for sharing memories of Bailey. I believe Bailey was there to help comfort you during your MRI. He’s like your angel above now. It’s so hard to lose a pet. They are so amazing in so many ways. Bailey sounds like an amazing dog! I picture him at Rainbow Bridge as well.

    Good luck and we will be praying for you!

  19. Anthony D. says:

    Hi Brett,

    I hope your leg gets better so you can hop on that sweet bike of yours. By the way, being such a dog person, I really enjoyed your entry on Bailey. I know that was not easy to write. “Man’s best friend”, there couldn’t be a more true saying. There’s nothing quite like the love for (and from) a good dog. Anyhow, we’re holding down the fort at 21 Rowley. Keep up your spirits man.

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