The Brown Family
Written by Lisa Brown
In September of 2003 we brought a 12 week old 8lb Irish Wheaten Terrier bundle of joy into our family and named her Bailey. From the outset it was clear that Bailey was the child that we could not have and more. Her boundless energy, curious nature, innate intelligence, and her ability to love unconditionally changed the course of our life and marriage. Simply put, she is a magical being not only to us but to all she meets, as Bailey was trained as a licensed medical service dog to assist me. In that capacity, Bailey has traveled the world with me, meeting many people from all walks of life, young and old, along with lots of four legged people as well. Bailey loves all she meets and they love her.
Bailey provided so much joy to us that when we learned that a neighbor had passed away and his dog needed a new family, we opened our home to George. George, also a Wheaten, was six and a half at the time and Bailey was five. George was pretty unsettled when he arrived, but Bailey thinking he was a playdate, engaged with him immediately. She welcomed him to our family and through her example, George joined our family pack and began to thrive. George was much different than Bailey as he was introverted and slow to show his personality. But in a short period of time George showed that he not only loved us, he was fun and funny, gregarious and playful. But most of all he was a fierce protector of Bailey. When we would take them for their veterinary checkups, George would watch intently as Bailey was examined, he would whine and cry on her behalf until her exam was complete, making sure she was okay. It was clear to us he was a dog with a heart of a lion.
Life was idyllic for six years until last May when Bailey was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Throughout her early treatments when the side effects of chemotherapy were difficult, George patiently stood by Bailey. He sniffed her and laid next to her whenever she seemed to need it. Bailey rebounded and George responded with gleeful play.
Last November, at a routine checkup, our vet noticed one of George's lymph nodes was enlarged. The first aspirate was normal. But a few weeks later the node became more enlarged and the second aspirate revealed metastatic melanoma. The primary tumor was found in George's palate. Despite valiantly going through radiation, George lost his fight with cancer six weeks ago, less than three months from the time of diagnosis. Heartbreaking.
We mourn his loss as does Bailey. He was a vital member of our family and we will never be the same. In his name and in Bailey's we are committed to find a cure for cancer in dogs. Cancer is a terrible disease. It deprives all of us, both humans and dogs, of life. When a life is lost the universe mourns.
We remain hopeful that Dr. Knapp and her team at Purdue will find a cure to save our beloved Bailey, as if not for her work Bailey would not still be here one year after her diagnosis, and we are committed to funding her research.
In conclusion, I would like to share another story about Bailey and George. When George first joined our family, I took him and Bailey for a walk in Manhattan where we live. A stranger stopped me to ask, "your dogs are beautiful, what are their names?" I responded George and Bailey. He laughed and said "Oh I get it, you named them that for a good reason." Perplexed I asked what he meant. He responded "George Bailey" the central character in the movie "It's a wonderful life." Of course he couldn't have known that George came to us with that name. However, in all the right ways, it was a wonderful life because of George's arrival. He completed our family and it was meant to be. May he run free among the stars.