Not only was Bayley’s passing painful, but I was also in the middle of the last two weeks of the quarter, getting ready for and in the middle of finals, as well as the evaluations for our school becoming a California Distinguished School (which we did accomplish), a very intense time.

And now comes this weekend’s news that a massive pet food recall is underway. As tragic as it is, it may have finally provided a clue to Bayley’s final illness and why he went from doing very well to very sick over a couple of months. We purchased Authority canned food from PetsMart on Jan. 2, and he began to get sick in February after we began feeding the new stuff to him. We had no clue it was food-related; we just knew that he was “off his feed” and we felt it was that he was slowing down due to age. Unfortunately, he was exhibiting the exact symptoms, followed by kidney failure and death, that dogs and cats affected by the recall were exhibiting. We’ll be further investigating what happened and I’ll be trying again to call the company tomorrow (the 800 number has been busy all weekend).

Tomorrow, I go to the vet to pick up his ashes, a difficult moment. And late last week, I was finally able to post Bayley’s final photos on Flickr. It brought some sense of finality to it, although I’m not quite ready for that yet. The pics are difficult to see, because they show him going from healthy and serene, then feeling sick and sleepy, and finally his last moments, including one taken immediately after he left us. Please don’t click on the link if you’d find them disturbing. For us, they’re also difficult to view because we miss him so much; and for me personally because, looking back now, how could I have been so oblivious to his illness? Yes, he was only a dog; but a dog that was an integral part of the family and a dog that left a huge hole in our lives. If you care to see the pics and say goodbye by leaving a comment, click on this link:

«Bayley’s Last Photos».

Moving on to a brighter and happier note: In one of life’s great and mysterious coincidences/miracles, the beagle of a student of mine brought five beagle puppies into the world exactly a week after Bayley left us. It seems fitting somehow, like it was known that Bayley was crossing the Rainbow Bridge and we’d need wiggly puppies to help comfort us after he was gone. While no other dog could ever take Bayley’s place, nor would we even try, we do know that not having a dog in our lives is not something we want. If we can’t have Bayley, we need a new beagle. We’re dog people, dog lovers, and we need a beagle in our life.

Or … maybe … three beagles. I always regretted that we didn’t bring Bayley’s two brothers home when we had the chance. He was always somewhat lonely and never very well socialized with other dogs. I was determined to not repeat that mistake. As they say, more dogs = less trouble because they have each other. They get into less mischief and chewing of bad things.

So, we were able to go over to the Allens’ house here in Brentwood this evening, where we were graciously met by my student Ashley, her brothers, and her mom and dad, and also graciously accepted by the very sweet Ginger the Beagle, who made no fuss at all as we handled her puppies. Buddy the Beagle, who is their dad, was resting at his own home, so we weren’t able to meet him. But he’s supposedly just as sweet as Ginger. The Allens have spent the last two weeks praying over the puppies, hoping they ended up in a good home. So, it’s working out well for all concerned.

The puppies’ eyes are just beginning to open and we bonded with them immediately. There are two girls (who will end up in other homes) and … «drumroll please» … three boys, who will be coming to live with us here on Wexford in early May.

Yes, you read correctly. Three beagles. Here in May. Yes, I’m insane. But you already knew that, right?

We therefore proudly introduce to you Feargal, Fergus, and Fredrik, the Beagle Boys, who pose along with their mom and two sisters, Isabel and Jasmine on Flickr:

«Feargal, Fergus, and Fredrik: First Photos».

To explain the names: In keeping with St. Patrick’s Day and my Irish heritage, we decided to be a bit goofy. Officially, they are Feargal Bayley O’Dougal, Fergus Bayley O’Dougal, and Fredrik Bayley O’Dougal – the middle name is in honor of Bayley Murphey, of course, and O’Dougal is in honor of Kit and Erin’s beloved black Labrador, the late and fierce fetching warrior, Rudy Dougal.

Feargal and Fergus are good old Irish names meaning “Strong Warrior” and “Fierce Warrior.” Fredrik plays on Frank’s Swedish heritage and means “Peaceful Warrior.” And of course, “Warrior” is Beagle-ese for “Let’s see how much chaos we can create before Dad gets home.” Plus, Feargal, Fergus, and Fred are alliterative, not to mention doofus-y and silly and goofy, just like beagles. The Allen kids named them Cinnamon, Sabre, and Rocky, as kids are wont to do, but we’re probably going with our Triple F Threat names. Frank came up with Feargal and Fergus after an internet search; Fred occurred to me because Little Ricky’s dog on I Love Lucy was named Fred. It’s probably all moot; they’ll most likely respond to just about anything, except when they don’t want to, which will be often. Such is life with beagles.

The Bayley chapter in our lives is closing, albeit very reluctantly. The new chapter is opening. Life, as they say, has a way of going on, even when those we love are no longer part of it.

The boys’ lives will be chronicled at a new website I’ve set up. Note the s in the domain name. Can’t just be singular AirBeagle anymore when there will be three of them running around:

«AirBeagles.Net».

Gonna be an interesting summer!