Decoding Bailey a tall order

Remember the old gag when you would dangle your buddy’s hand in a bowl of warm water as he slept, hoping against hope that it would cause a, well, biological reaction?

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor

Well, from recent experience, I can tell you unequivocally that a dog licking your hand while you’re asleep can cause nearly the same reaction.

See, my dog is insane. Actually, both my dogs are nuts in their own little ways, but I’m fairly convinced that my pug, Bailey, is certifiable. Oh, she’s a good dog who usually does what I say and doesn’t destroy things in the house when I’m away, like the shar-pei does, but she has certain issues.

The licking would be one. The dog just licks. She licks her paws when she’s lying down. She licks my face if I let her get too close. And she licks my fingers if my arm is hanging off the side of the bed.

And if nothing’s available to her at the present moment, she just looks off into space and licks air. For hours and hours.

I’ve tried to grab the darting tongue with my fingers to make it stop, but it’s just too fast. And wet. And icky.

But I could live with the licking thing if it were only that. The problem is that she has many other odd, odd nuances to her character.

I was lying on the couch watching television the other night when Bailey decided to come lie on my chest. I really don’t mind when she does it because (a) she weighs about six ounces, and (b) things just seem right in the world when you’re lying on the couch and your pug is nestled up against you.


She has issues with flatulence. Not the “what was that sound?” kind of flatulence, mind you. No, this is that “what ancient sea creature just washed ashore and caught a wind gust strong enough to lift it off the ground and carry it directly to my nose where it rotted and turned?”.

It’s unholy, and I’ve considered hiring an exorcist.

But that’s a bodily function and one she really can’t control. I get that. I’ve gotten used to it, and it really doesn’t bother me that much anymore. Of course, I can’t smell steaks cooking on a grill or fresh-cut grass anymore, but it’s worth it to be able to make it through one of Bailey’s episodes without wrapping my head in a blanket and covering it in gasoline. I mean, there have been times when...

But I digress.

I was watching Bailey the other night while she was playing with a little rubber bone on the floor. She seemed completely content, lying on her belly while holding the bone between her paws and, yes, licking it like crazy. I thought it was cute, and went for my camera to snap off one of those adorable little photos to send around to various other dog lovers I know, when she drifted off into Baileyworld again.

She rolled on to her back, lifted the bone in the air with her front paws like she was about to make a sacrifice to the god of rubber bones and began barking like crazy.

Keep in mind that a pug’s bark is not like that of most dogs. It is more of a forced yip than an exclamation of any way, and three wine glasses shattered from the pitch. I kept watching, trying to figure out what was making her react that way when the shar-pei slowly walked up to Bailey, took the bone from her paws and walked away to chew on it.

Bailey clumsily rolled over to right herself, watched Guinness chew on her bone and spun her head around to stare at me — seemingly willing me with her mind to retrieve the bone and give it back to her.

I did not take the photo. And I did not get her the bone. I just shook my head, put down the camera and went back to what I was watching on television.

I can’t be certain, because I only saw it out of the corner of my eye, but I’m pretty sure she flipped me off and went back to licking air.

I just can’t figure her out at all. The other dog, Guinness, is easy. She’s a dog. She does what she wants, eats what she wants and listens when she wants. Yes, she give me ulcers and makes me yell a lot, but I understand her. Bailey ... well, Bailey’s nuts.

She’s not bad. If I tell her to come inside, she comes inside. If I tell her to stop chewing on the rocking chair, she stops. If I tell her to stop climbing up on the back of the sofa and sneezing 75 times on the back of my head and neck in a 30-second period, she usually does.

And then she licks air.