It's almost not fair to write about putting down an aged dog, because there's no possible way you can read it and not get misty-eyed. (Bill Simmons's piece on his late dog remains one of the best things he's ever written). Today it's Peter King's turn to pay tribute to Twitter-famous Bailey, who was euthanized last week at the age of 14. Damnit, Peter, just a look at that white muzzle fur is enough to make me a mess.
Bailey gets a sizable and well-deserved section of Monday Morning Quarterback, and King tells the story of how he never would have met her if not for a Redskins HR move, and how she almost became the beloved pet of hall of famer Darrell Green instead.
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.
King later mentions how, for the rest of her life, Bailey would freak out whenever Doug Green came to visit. (Could you be any more wonderful, dogs?)
The Kings put Bailey down on Thursday, after she had been dealing with increasingly painful arthritis and back problems. Anyone who's been there can appreciate the horrible self-delusion of that last vet visit, when you desperately want to know what else can be done, and when should we bring her in again, only you know deep down this is it. The Kings gave Bailey one last treat, and held her for the last injection, and sent her off to play in the Big Grass Field in the Sky.
No more sad dog stories for a while, sportswriters.