Steven had always wanted a yellow lab. I think it was for his 22nd birthday (1998, the year we started dating) that I got him a stuffed yellow lab named Timber. But just a few weeks later, he could no longer wait for the "real thing," and we were off on a little road trip to pick up our first puppy. If I remember correctly, Timber was actually my pick. I thought he looked smaller than the other pups in the litter, and his nose was less-pointy. We took him back to Steven's apartment, and there began the months and years of trying to keep our dog in a rented apartment. Some of the places, he was allowed, others he wasn't. He spent some months with "grandparents" and came to visit us often. His first few weeks in Steven's little apartment were quite humorous. I think he chewed up an entire leather belt, half a boot, and the bottom of the bathroom door! He spent many days at SJV, the community house in Bryan where we both lived at different times, and he was like our house's little mascot.
Just a few weeks after we got him, Timber got very sick. We think he had Parvo. Steven took him to the University vet clinic, who didn't give us a whole lot of hope, but told us we could try a saline under the skin (kind of like an IV drip) to see if that might hydrate him and help him recover. Sure enough, he did get better, and went on to live 13 happy years!
Timber loved to run. He loved to escape. I distinctly recall Steven letting Timber run down the streets of the neighborhood where I grew up (our first apartment was there). He drove alongside Timber and let him tire out. I think he got away a few times at both my parents' and Steven's parents' homes, but his escapes at our last house were many and often. It seemed like several times a month we'd find our back wrought-iron gate open (it didn't close right), or someone would yell that he got away, and I'd have to load up the kids in the car to go on a Timber hunt, or if Steven was home, he'd chase after him on his bike. Sometimes Timber would just be down the street and I'd have to drive alongside him for a block or two before he'd tire out and agree to jump in the car. Sometimes the police would find him and threaten to ticket us since he wasn't "registered" with the city.
In his early years, Steven worked with him on retrieval skills for hunting, but I don't think he ever quite measured up to that ideal hunting dog. But he loved playing fetch and jumping in the water at the ponds. I'm pretty sure this photo which we have framed was taken at a park in College Station, with Steven's maroon Dodge Ram in the background. Looks like he was ready for a swim!
One day he escaped and we couldn't find him for a day or two. Someone suggested I check our online classifieds and sure enough, there was a picture and description of Timber in the lost animal section. The kind lady who found him had been part of a rescue organization so she spoiled him and even took him to the vet!
I think one of our funniest Timber memories was from Easter 2010. The Easter Bunny must have stopped by when it was still dark. By the time the morning rolled around, we went outside to find that Timber had had his own Easter party! He had opened every single egg that was within his reach and ate all the contents. Thankfully it was just fruit snacks, Teddy grahams, and Oreos and not candy! Doesn't he look guilty in the photo? We had quite a laugh that morning!
The week that we were first going to check out our new hometown last July, Timber got sick with some kind of seizure-type illness. We almost had him put down because we were very worried that he was suffering. But after a few days (and care from our kind neighbors), he recovered and was back to himself!
Timber loved running around out at Little Way Farm, so when it came time to prepare for our move in mid-November, we opted to take Timber out there to spend his final days at the farm. It was a difficult goodbye, especially for the children (as we were spending lots of time saying goodbye to friends, too), and I regret not taking a picture or taking some time to say goodbye to our faithful 13 year-old friend. I was having too hard a time with goodbyes those days. It was a busy time for all of us, and we had to make the decision that the farm would be a good place to spend his final days. Just a few short days later, the farm helper found Timber had passed away.
Steven often said that he hoped he'd be half the man that his dog thought he was. I think that's a good lesson for us all. Our faithful pets know only the good things about us, they find their joy in simple things like a scratch on the ears, running down the street, or basking in the sunlight. Timber was a good dog and we have many happy and funny memories.
Now, 6 months out from this loss, the kids would of course love to have another dog. But here in a rental home with frequent trips away and no place for a dog to stay, we think it's best to wait. And I admit that the four kids keep me busy enough these days! Still we look forward to having another dog at some point. But none will match with our fondness for our first family dog. Timber Land Bailey. May he rest in peace.