Whether she is at home or away, Jan’s primary concern is Bailey, who has an unstable stomach condition and continually weakening back legs. It isn’t his health condition that worries her most, though. It’s Bailey’s inclination to terrorize, or panic, at any moment.
He’s been conditioned to be wildly unpredictable.
According to Jan, Bailey eats everything in sight, tears up couch pillows, steals and chews on remotes, etc. We’ve seen this behavior when Jan is around, but when he’s alone with us, he’s usually an angel. Maybe he hasn’t gotten used to us yet, or maybe he likes to react to Jan’s continual fretting. (It stresses ME out to be with Jan when she’s controlling Bailey’s every eye bat.) I guess we’ll find out as time goes on.
Bailey’s terror tendencies are arguable, but his neuroticism is not. Traffic scares him. People aggravate him. Other dogs send him flying blindly in the opposite direction (which is usually into traffic). Walking with him is a struggle, only because he is so poorly trained. Since his hearing and eyesight are fading, he will also suddenly break out into a fit of mad barking at “strange” sounds or at the sudden awareness of a person in the room. It’s weird, and unnerving.
Even before we came here, Jan made it clear that Bailey is a 24-hour project. We’ve been told again and again that we must watch everything he does and (in a matter of words) allow him to do nothing: he can’t lick himself, he can’t scratch himself, he can’t touch/eat things besides what is given to him. All he can do is lay down. Walks are scary and unpredictable. One person must be with him at all times to avoid disaster.
That schedule/mentality seems too exhausting and pointless to us–Bailey is just a dog; not a child (and even then, children can’t be controlled like this)–so we tend to do our own thing with him most of the time. (Within reason, of course. I try not to discredit all of Jan’s routines because she does have good points to make in between all the emotionally panicky ones: like not exercising him after a meal to avoid bloat.)
I can understand why Jan has this attachment to her pet: it’s a natural response for every animal lover, and Bailey is Jan’s only constant companion (besides Piccolo), so he’s basically graduated from dog to child in a lot of ways. And as such, she knows him better than anyone. It does seem that in his younger years, Bailey was a terror–kind of like Marley in Marley and Me. (I’m glad I have the old Bailey to work with. Otherwise, I’d be on a plane back to the US within a week, I’m sure.)
Once again, this experience only confirms to Ryan and me that we will not be getting a dog of our own any time soon–if ever. We’re mainly cat people; with cats, it’s much more difficult to control them or build your life around their silly routines, and I like that. They’re just as affectionate as dogs, but they have lives of their own, so you can have a life, too.