NFC Is About to Get Real

bailey-real
RIP Bailey.

Requiem for a Dog

On Friday morning, my wife Ann and I woke up in our Manhattan apartment. I put my feet on the floor and looked around. No Bailey. We’d put our 14-year-old golden retriever to sleep the day before. I started to do the math …

I don’t have a dog. I’ve woken up every day for the last 23 years owning a dog. Until today.

And I had to catch myself before I broke apart again. You wouldn’t have wanted to see me Wednesday, the day we knew it was coming, or Thursday, the day it happened. I was not a pretty sight. Our second golden retriever (Woody, our first, died in January 2002, when Bailey was 2) was euthanized at 9:14 a.m. Thursday.

So many thoughts. So many reverential thoughts about a great dog. But a little history first:

Did you know Daniel Snyder was responsible for the King family owning Bailey?

Did you know if the King family hesitated in the adoption process for just a single day 13 years ago, Bailey would have been Darrell Green’s family dog? That’s the Darrell Green, the famous Washington cornerback.

Bailey! I am sorry! You could have been a Hall of Famer’s dog! You could have been on the stage in Canton with Darrell Green and his beautiful family!

I’m not saying history would have shown me to be a better owner. But I do know no one threw more tennis balls to a dog than I threw to Bailey, and so I hope she was happy where she landed. In Montclair, N.J., her third home in her first 10 months. Bailey was born in Champaign, Ill., to a breeder, and given as a gift to a friend of our family. I’d met Doug Green when he was an assistant PR man with the Bears, and he’d moved on to be Ron Turner’s director of football operations at Illinois. Then Doug moved to Washington to study for the bar, and while in Washington heard that Snyder was looking for a PR man. (A common occurrence in those days.) Doug applied, got the job, and soon realized he couldn’t keep a dog with the demands of an NFL PR guy. For a while, Bailey lived at the home of former Washington GM Joe Mendes, but when training camp ended and Doug had to take Bailey, it just wasn’t feasible to keep her. So one day in August 2000, with our Woody in his golden years, we offered to take Bailey. Doug and I met on his lunch break at an exit on the Beltway around Washington. “This is something I really don’t want to do,” Doug said, and I could see how sad this made him. And here came this fireball, reed-like retriever, a 2.7-in-the-40 sprinter with the longest tongue, and she bounced into our Ford Explorer, and off we went.

I didn’t know about Darrell Green’s interest until last week. Doug told me the star corner asked one of Doug’s PR aides the day after the handoff if the dog was still available. Nope, Darrell was told; missed it by a day.

That was our great fortune. Bailey fell right into the suburban family life with us and our two high school daughters. Field hockey, ball-chasing, softball (she was the mascot for three teams I coached), and learning the ropes from Woody. One day, a sliver in the front door allowed her to escape, and she sprinted onto busy Bellevue Avenue in Montclair … and I thought, This dog is dead. She leaped into the side of an Astro Van. BANG! The poor minivan driver stopped and jumped from the vehicle. “I am SO SORRY!” the distraught (and faultless) woman said. How did Bailey survive? Who knows. She got off the tar, shook herself as though leaving a lake, and sprinted back up to the house. I’ll say this: Bailey never ran into traffic again.

Actually, she was a chicken dog. When my wife put a vinyl beach bag by the front door one summer day, the bag made a crinkling sound. Bailey’s tail went far between her legs and she ran out of the room. And for the first three or four years with us, Bailey had one maddening habit: She had to be touched in every waking moment, or she was miserable. If we sat and watched TV, Bailey had to snug up against one our legs. I remember peering in at daughter Mary Beth doing homework one day, writing left-handed in a notebook with her right hand on a sleeping Bailey’s head.

I will endure a few weeks of the occasional dark thought, and I will think: ‘Pretty good trade, 159 months of companionship and friendship and unconditional love for one or three months when sadness creeps in. In fact, that’s a fantastic trade.’ I feel the same as when Woody died: The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.

I was traveling one time when we lived in Jersey, and Ann was home alone with Bailey. She went to bed, and after about 10 minutes heard a loud crash downstairs, jumped up and turned on the lamp. Bailey jumped up too. Ann went into the hallway and turned on all the hallway lights in the house, and she looked at Bailey in the doorway of the bedroom and said, “Come.” Bailey didn’t move. Again Ann said: “Come!” Bailey turned around and went back to her dog bed, leaving Ann to investigate by herself. Turns out a framed photograph had fallen from a wall and crashed to the floor. But the chicken dog couldn’t bear to go see.

I’ve never seen a dog that loved running as much as Bailey. We had a hill in Montclair, above a stately iris garden, and I took her there three or four times a week, throwing the tennis ball far down the hill so she could retrieve and run. Mike Martz, at the time coaching the Rams, returned a call during one such session and asked me what was that loud panting noise in the background. Bailey would ride home in the back seat of the car, drooling down the side of it; when we sold the car in 2007, try as we might, we couldn’t get the drool stains out. That was okay. All in all, Bailey was a piece of luggage. She went everywhere. She stayed at Tufts for a week in daughter Laura’s senior-year house.

I used to wash Bailey in our front driveway because the hose was convenient. On one May day in 2008, in mid-lather, my phone rang. It was Brett Favre. Not loving retirement. Having second thoughts. I was trying to talk to him and wash the dog at the same time, and finally I had to tell Bailey to lay down and wait—for about 40 minutes. There she lay, all soaped up, just doing what she was told, as she always did.

Mostly, she was just an incredible companion. Didn’t bark much at all. Never whined. Went nuts when any of us came home, as dogs do. (She saved her going-craziest for Doug’s occasional visits over the years. Ten years after we adopted her, a Doug visit still prompted Bailey to go into orbit. Amazing how dogs remember so well.) And that’s why the last few days have hurt so much. My wife and I wake up and look on the floor; no Bailey. We walk back into the apartment, and we look down in our foyer; no Bailey. What an empty feeling. I assume we’ll have that empty feeling for a long time. A month, two months … I don’t know. I wish I didn’t have to feel that pain in my heart for the next month or two or three.

But by my calculations, we had Bailey in our lives for 159 months. I will endure a few weeks of the occasional dark thought, and I will think: Pretty good trade, 159 months of companionship and friendship and unconditional love for one or three months when sadness creeps in. In fact, that’s a fantastic trade. I feel the same as I did when Woody died: The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.

In her final days, Bailey had been given some steroid pills to treat a bad limp. She had arthritis, and we had to lift her to stand, and she couldn’t put much weight on her right foreleg. So we’d take her out for her regular trip to the sidewalk four times a day, and by Wednesday, it was unbearable to watch her struggle to make it outside. First thing Thursday morning, when I approached her to tell her it was time to go outside, she wagged her tail so hard it hit the wooden floor like it was a drum. This dog was still into life. But the limp … just too painful to watch. We went to the vet a couple hours later. I had to carry her more than half of the three-and-a-half-block walk. We told the vet, Keith Manning, about her trouble, and he was nice and avoided our beseeching looks about the next treatment, and said her longstanding bulging disk was pushing on her spine and preventing her leg from working and, well, there wasn’t much he could do, and …

“Give us five minutes,’’ I asked him. He left the room, and Ann and I said our goodbyes.

Ann gave Bailey her last milk bone. “Good girl!’’ she said one last time, through her tears.

Then Dr. Manning came in, with his assistant, and we lifted Bailey up on the table. Ann and I held Bailey as Dr. Manning shaved her left forepaw. He took the long silver needle with the red poison, found the vein and pushed it in.

I whispered into Bailey’s ear: “Go play with Woody.”

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511 comments
rubinpj
rubinpj

Peter - I saw this and thought of you


It came to me

that every time

I lose a dog

they take a piece 

of my heart with them,

and every new dog 

who comes into my life

gifts me with a piece

of their heart.

If I live long enough

all the components

of my heart

will be dog, and

I will become 

as generous and 

loving as they are.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

The story about his dog made me cry like a baby.  I fear the day that my dogs have to go.  :(

I'll never understand cat people...  there's nothing like the unconditional love from a dog.

BoiseBus41
BoiseBus41

I really don't know how anyone could make it through page 3 with a dry eye. I can't imagine waking up in the morning and not seeing my dog, Alabama, laying on his pillow next to mine. 

kmb4605
kmb4605

After I read about Bailey, I called my 12 year old Doberman Pinscher, gave her a hug, fed her 1/2 my steak, and let her sleep in the bed "Wife wasn't happy" I'll probably need a strait jacket when the time comes for my faithful loving and very spoiled companion ! 

UlisseP
UlisseP

“Triple grande hazelnut macchiato”?? Good grief, man -- please stop calling that section "Coffeenerdness", because no coffee nerd with self-respect would want to get caught drinking that abomination. Unless they were 14-year-old cheerleaders, that is.

DOriginalDonald
DOriginalDonald

Week 10 proves the old mantra On Any Given Sunday...........

ianlinross
ianlinross

Favorable schedule, terrific front four, only healthy and decent QB in the division; yeah, the Lions blow this.

JesseF
JesseF

Peter, I am incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing and I wish you and your family the best. And you're absolutely right, it's the best trade you've ever made! Jesse

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

Do you hear that whistle?  That yellow flag for unsportsmanlike penalty?  Yeah, me too....it's that same sound of Detroit imploding again.

KevinMoss
KevinMoss

Maybe you should have spent less time cheerleading for Shannon Sharpe and more time listening to Brandon Marshall's comments on the topic of the N-word....

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

WHY are you or anybody else stunned by Atlanta's downfall? This was the problem I had with it---Rich McKay (the Bucs architect for the glory years) builds a decent team, & get kicked upstairs for the team not being good enough. A Belichick acolyte comes over (Dimitroff) (those Belichick acolytes do GREAT outside Bill /sarcasm), keeps building, & then Snead & Caldwell get hired off all the Falcons' mediocre playoff success for the Rams & the Jaguars, respectively (how's that going?). Anybody with eyes could see Matt Ryan is the definition of high-end mediocre, Julio Jones is a monster although inconsistent, & they had a middling defense, an OK offensive line, & an 83 year old running back. I just never got the Great Atlanta Success Story everybody was trying to sell me. & hiring Mike Smith? Yeeesh.

Jenn1
Jenn1

We put our dog to sleep three years ago. She was 17 but  it still feels like a piece of my heart was taken from me. I truly believe everyone who can should have a pet. I'm not saying the pain isn't unbelievable when they die; I'm just saying it's worth it.

Rest in Peace Bailey - go run the fields of Heaven.

MikeReiner
MikeReiner

Thank you Mr.King for MMQB I look forward to it every week! But mostly Thank You for sharing your "Bailey" story with us! Its amazing how much a part of the family a dog can be! I am very sorry for your loss and hope you and your wife get a new Lab to keep you company for the next 13 or 14 years!

Anon Omus
Anon Omus

Oh so it's okay to threaten to kill someone if you put it on a meme but you should be executed if you do the same thing in an obvious joking voice mail.  It's funny how far the media will go to defend Martin.  

kcjohn17
kcjohn17

Hey Peter, before praising Shannon Sharpe over his comments, maybe we should hear a similar rant from him around domestic violence??

RobertGraham
RobertGraham

Darn you, Peter.  With the Bailey story in the middle of MMQB, you're making it darn hard to read the rest of your column!  I'm all tears, here!


Today, when I take my 5 year old Lab for a run in the dog park, I'll make sure he does a couple of laps in Bailey's memory.


Thanks for writing about being a human being as part of your football column. RIP Bailey King. 

AndrewLynch
AndrewLynch

Thanks for giving the Eagles and Nick Foles a modicum of respect.  It's very rare on this site and on ESPN.

VIPOD
VIPOD

We lost are 15 year old Brittany Spaniel, Lacey in 2006 (really, the first gift my wife and I gave each other before we got married). Well, Lacey gave back 1Million fold. Lacey was a frisbee catching dog, from a standing position she would leap 5-6ft in the air. Knowing her health was deteriorating we brought in Maya (GoldenDoodle) in 2005. I'm a firm believer that dogs heal, Lacey brought my wife and I together when we hit a rough spot in the marriage,and Maya literally nursed my wife to health (the mental kind) when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008.

Thanks for charing Peter & R.I.P. Bailey 

norm314
norm314

Why would Detroit want a cancer like Incognito? Is he supposed to be better than Rob Sims or rookie of the week nominee Larry Warford?

CheezFM
CheezFM

I don't mean to distract from the bulk of the comments which center on Incognito/Martin and Peter's dog, but I just gotta ask:

How did Peter King get this gig?  This guy represents the absolute worst of today's media. 

He is lazy--just look at his reporting of this Incognito/Marin affair. Nothing but tweets and knee-jerk, unfalsifiable, fact-free commentary. He provides no journalistic function whatsoever. He substituted opinion spewing for reporting a long time ago. And it's this way week in and week out.

He is biased. Why do we all know of Peter's political leanings for a football column that most of us read to get away from all the political B.S.? Because the substance of his work is so paltry, he has to resort to appealing to his audience via his politics.

He's narcissist. He thinks we actually want to read about his opinions on gun control, healthcare, as well as status updates on his dog. [Most people here love dogs and know the pain of losing one. But this is supposed to be a column about football. If you want the catharsis of writing about your dog, then do so with your "friends" on Facebook. That's the place for it.] 

He is T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.   He's a former beat writer who, aspires to be Mike Lupica. [It really has gotten that bad for Peter.] 

The sad fact is this: VERY FEW people read this column because of Peter King. If Peter King left SI for some Wordpress blog, 12 people would follow him. And this stupid MMQB.Si.WTF.COM?!?!   What was wrong with simple SI.com?

Sitcoms "Jump the Shark". Sports columnists "Jump their Dead Dogs". 

RickHendrick
RickHendrick

There's no tears like dog tears. (It will make you feel better if you sing it like Ethel Merman.)


rikerisle
rikerisle

Getting tired of hearing the outrage from peter King on incognito's utterance of whatever words were said.  The 'N' word has been minimized by blacks for decades.  The black players in the room didn't object to Incognito's utterance of the word (with the possible exception of martin), so peter and shannon sharpe should shut their self-righteous mouths.  On one other notes, peter, like other white 'journalists', minimizes a black man's death texts by saying he just 'forwarded an internet meme'.  Sorry there king, but if incognito forwarded a meme of a noose to a black man there would be outrage over the racist tweet.  You can't have it both ways.

YourJudgeandJury
YourJudgeandJury

Two and a half years ago, I had to put down my German Shepherd, Sasha, who was with us for 12 years.  It did tear me apart.  I thought my wife was going to commit me.  A month or so later I was on my Harley riding up Rt. 1 north of St. Augustine and I see a German Shepherd breeding/boarding place (can I say I.C.N.D.F.?).  This is where we found Hera.  She has graced my life for 2-1/2 years now and is laying down next to me as I type. A new puppy cannot take the place of the one that just left but pup can help heal as he/she builds a place in your heart.  I wouldn't have traded any of my German Shepherds for a 6 pack of beer and a bucket of wings (I'm from Buffalo so those items are important).  Football is just a game, your puppy is your heart and soul. 

OttawaWendy
OttawaWendy

I cried when I read you telling Bailey to play with Woody.  I can't be the only one.  All dog lovers who have had to say goodbye know what you feel.

SouperMeister
SouperMeister

Peter - you have my deepest sympathy for losing Bailey. I lost Chelsea, my 16 year old Golden Retriever, in September. I've never agreed more with anything in this column than how much dogs add to our lives. Goldens especially live to please their family, and are the most gentle, loving creatures. I'm not ready yet, but I will surely get another Golden, and I hope you do too.

DickMcIntyre
DickMcIntyre

Peter - very sorry to hear about Bailey.  We lost our 13 year old soft coated wheaten Blarney a year ago last month - she's now my avatar.

Losing a canine family member hurts as much as losing a human one.

adze
adze

Its not up to you to get angry over the N- word.  As a matter of fact it's demeaning to be told to get angrier about it from a white guy.  As a black man, I will decide who can and cannot say that to me or around me, and certainly have no use for your opinion on the matter.  J. Martin doesn't need you to defend him and racism as far as I can tell, was not the real issue here.  Find something else to get angry about.

teacher_rob
teacher_rob

My two boys, Rusty and Ranger are lab mixes (one with pointer, the other with Jack Russel terrier) and not yet three. Besides our daily games of tug-o-war and fetch, we have our nightly walks. I told my wife, that while I know it is a decade plus away, I might not be able to have another dog after these two. Thanks for sharing your pain and grief and for reminding me, the pain I dread and fear is a small price for what they have given me and will give me. I've read you religiously for years, never more moved than when reading about Bailey.

Thank you!

John331
John331

Peter,

Thank you for sharing your story about Bailey, though it brought back my own grief from similar experiences with my own dogs.  In my view, dogs like Bailey (and mine) give us much more than they receive.

WendyJFluga28
WendyJFluga28

Tears for Bailey, Peter. Sending my best personal regards for your loss. P.S. I swore I would never read your column again when you said, "I want to be Chris Matthews when I grow up."  Lowlight of your career. Alas, I could not stay away. You are my favorite sportswriter, and always will be. Cheers. xxW

Gs1
Gs1

You know Pete enough of this sh*t! Stop being a hypocrite and get off your soap box. If black players allowed Incognito to use the N* word it's because THEY give the same type of language back and felt comfortable with it. Do you think that a team, who's ranks are made up by an overwhelming majority of black players, are going to put up with one man being a racist, casually throwing around the N-word at will? I don't care how big & bad Incognito is, he can't fight a whole team. Jonathan Martin needed to throw someone under the bus and Incognito's checkered past made him the perfect target. His lawyers are smart enough to tell him who to blame.

Karen Schrade
Karen Schrade

Peter, my condolences on Bailey. So painful to lose a member of the family but to never feel a dog's love must be worse. Godspeed Bailey.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

@CheezFM FEEL FREE TO STOP READING HIM.


Every week there are idiots that read King's column and then complain about how bad it always is.... STOP READING!

ianlinross
ianlinross

@CheezFM Evidently, you're not familiar with the full body of Peter King's work. Go read Deadspin or Bleacher Report.

Terry
Terry

@CheezFM 

Very mean spirited and not at all warranted.

TZT
TZT

@CheezFM You are so off base with this.  Oh well.

EP1
EP1

@CheezFM yeah... because only 12 people besides you have commented on this one article... so few people read his column that he has his own team and website... troll...

jojomogir
jojomogir

@CheezFM He is a columnist, not a reporter.  If you don't understand the difference, then you've got a little homework to do.

Dark
Dark

@rikerisle And you don't get to tell black people how offended they should or shouldn't be.  Sometimes white people should just shut up and listen.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@rikerisle This generation of blacks sell white people music laced with the word they are supposed to be offended by. It's pretty common to see young white kids singing along to rap and chanting the n-word as part of the lyrics. Funny thing is that whites have been so trained to be offended and scared of the n-word that I'd bet they are more offended by the word than blacks today. This seems like a generational phenomenon, and Shannon is simply an example of that. 50 years from now the word will probably be a shoulder shrug, if it even exists by then - as I'm sure rap and hip hop will be long gone by then too...

blynder
blynder

@adze 

And I as a black man, think we need to find more room for more voices on this issue.  Talking about it is going to get us through this.  AND I as a black man don't know what was going on in that Miami locker room and would be very quick to judge a situation I'm not a part of.  I know what racism is; not just from personal experience but from theory and data and study.  

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@Gs1 Hey Shannon - today's younger black generation clearly don't hold the same regard for the n-word that you do. And you can't make them. Good on the current generation for realizing that a word only has power over you if you let it.

CheezFM
CheezFM

@jojomogir @CheezFM Learn how to read before advising others to do more homework. I didn't write "reporter". I said he stopped providing any "journalistic function" with regards to his column. There's a difference between lazy opinion spewing and researched commentary distilled through a weekly column.    

rikerisle
rikerisle

@blynder you weren't in the room, and theory, data, and study do not determine what is racist.  If the black players in the room say it wasn't racist then it wasn't, pure and simple, and you don't get more of a say just because you say you are black.

EP1
EP1

@Joebuckster @Gs1 First, if Incognito doesn't know that he shouldn't say it even though others in the locker room are making it acceptable then he deserves the punishment. I have been told that I have an honorary card... I still don't use the word. And I think what Peter said is that if they did accept the use of the word then that says something about the locker room. I am guessing (just guessing) that the Eagles dont allow that word to be used. Mike Vick (a leader) handled that situation perfectly. Perhaps, as per Gs1's logic, Vick should hav ejust started throwing the word around the locker room to take the power away from Cooper.

 Gs1... I need that explained logically to me... I hear the words but it has never made sense. We use the word to take the power away... hmmm... or we don't use the word... the word is unacceptable... and therefore some oaf white guy doesn't use it because its deemed acceptable.  With that logic (using it to take the power away) maybe Jewish people should start using swastikas so they can take the power away!

blynder
blynder

@Joebuckster @rikerisle 

Of course, because you can do open heart surgery because you have a heart?  MY point was that because someone says isn't doesn't automatically make it not that.  I may go to my doctor and complain of an ache in my chest, shortness of breath, stiffness, tingling in my arms - it doesn't mean others can say I was suffering from a pulled groin muscle.   

I am black; I know that is hard to determine on the internet so I'll just ask that you trust me on that one.  If you choose not to, well I asked. ;)  I didn't say I know MORE than others; just pointed out that because I am black as well; doesn't mean I get to determine something from a situation I was not in.  Hope that clarifies.

As for expertise on race in America - sorry, there is such a thing.  There are people out there with really good knowledge of what and how race happens.  We might actually get past this stuff if we actually listened too it.  Nor did I use the word "racist" - I rarely use it; it's a personal statement, about a single person or situation and it just doesn't fit for my experience.

Loosely throwing around the accusation of "racist" is not what I did.  I offered a counter to the position the OP had about race in that locker room (from MY point of view as someone who has only read some reports and definitely was not there). As for actual racism (again, no idea what was going on in that locker room) there are things that are MUCH more important for us to deal with about race, other than what some football players said to one another.  I hope that also clarifies.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@rikerisle Great point rikerisle. Here comes the self righteous parade, and all of the self-appointed 'experts' on racism. Racism is not simply determined by the person who thinks they were slighted. I think we all know that there are plenty of people who find racism where it doesn't exist. And since someone usually can't prove hatred or intent of another person, it is subjective and usually exists as an opinion. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it isn't. And no amount of studying 'theory' and 'data' informs you about this particular situation. There is a lot less racism in the world than that which is 'perceived'. I don't know whether Incognito is racist, and nor do you. Loosely throwing around the accusation 'racist' is every bit as offensive.

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