Rolling over, I take a warm paw in my hand, Good morning, baby. Are you ready to celebrate? Baylor jumps up. Grins at me. Ooh, we gotta listen to the song, I tell him.
Punk rock birthday song blaring, we dance rassle on the floor. Baylor grabs his stuffy, whips it back and forth. Jumps back when I tickle his paws. Leaps forward to make sure I stay interested in the game. Same thing he’s done since he was just a tiny baby. Song complete. I laugh, hug his neck.
Ingredients compiled, I mix the batter. Pour it into a pan and start on the peanut butter filling. Banana cake cooled, I measure and cut. Layer cake, filling and sliced bananas into a celebratory tower. Thinking back on my days as a professional cake decorator, I’m thankful for the skills gained, equally as glad I don’t have to assemble, frost and decorate upwards of 50 cakes a day any more.
Cake complete, we hang the banner. Setting out headbands, I can’t help but laugh. Oh man, I’m going full on into crazy dog lady territory this year. Baylor stares at the cake, grins up at me. You’re right. It’s totally worth it, bud.
Photos captured, I set down the slice of cake. Baylor looks at me. Licks delicately at the icing. That’s for you, you can have it. He grabs half the slice. Swallows it. Immediately goes after the other half and swallows as fast as possible. A couple hours work inhaled in seconds. I giggle, You’re crazy Bay. I hope you at least tasted it. He looks at me hoping for a taste testing redo. I pat his head. No more right now. Don’t want to make you sick. But there are leftovers for later.
Tucking him in, I squeeze his neck until he groans. Find myself feeling completely happy and a tiny bit sad. It’s the first birthday where my heart squeezes ever so slightly as we celebrate, where the passing year is a reminder that these moments won’t last forever.
I used to say, Yeah, the shorter life span – it’s the hardest part about having a furry bestie. But really that’s not the truth at all. The reality is it’s actually their greatest gift to us. A reminder, if we’re willing to take note, that time is finite and precious for all of us. That now is the time to do the things we dream of.
It’s certainly an important reason that we’re on this adventure right now. Without the knowledge that my and Baylor’s time for adventuring together is limited I wouldn’t have had the deep commitment needed to make this happen, the obsessive focus to get it done quickly, the dedication needed to carry on in spite of the naysayers. So I give thanks for the passage of time. For the fact that though my heart will surely crack clean open when the end comes, in this moment I’m blessed with a canine sidekick who keeps me inspired to really give it my all. To get out there and live life to the fullest today. Because you just never know what tomorrow will bring.
Crouching down, I give him another squeeze. Cover his face in kisses until he sighs, sprawls onto his side and closes his eyes in pure celebratory exhaustion. Reaching for an extra bedtime cookie, I smile as he peeks an eye open at the telltale sound of the treat bag rattling. Treat gobbled, I stroke a silky ear. I love you, Bay. Happy Birthday.
211 days down. Many to come.