Life is Short, Live in Dog Years

Story and Photos Contributed by Ruffwear Ambassador Mallory Paige, in loving memory of her adventure pal, Baylor the Dog.

I used to say a dog’s short life was the hardest part about making them your best friend, but now I know it’s actually the biggest gift. My dog, Baylor, taught me that.

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For 12 years, Baylor and I did everything together. As a tiny puppy he followed me from room to room, unable to relax unless we were snuggled up together. He went on his first road trip at just 11-weeks-old and was irreversibly convinced he was the size of a chihuahua.

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He wasn’t perfect, and that’s what I liked about him. Years of never getting into anything were intermixed with moments of gobbling down an entire carrot cake, shredding a wicker wastebasket and methodically eating an entire rock garden.

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He was an adventure pup through and through, having visited most Canadian provinces and every US state (except Hawaii), climbed Colorado 14ers, camped across the continent, paddled whitewater rivers, and swam in more bodies of water than most people can imagine.

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He taught me what it means to fully live every moment. To get lose-your-mind excited when it snows and run with uninhibited joy on the beach – even if you’ve been there a hundred times before. He taught me to wake up with a smile and go to bed tired from a day well lived. To turn strangers into friends and greet everyone you meet with optimistic enthusiasm.

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Most of all he taught me what it means to be loyal and connected. To love someone with all your might and only want the best for them. To be willing to sacrifice and to give without martyrdom. To be generous and kind, patient, and loving.

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He got the most out of his 12 years of life – laughing, playing, and loving until the last moments. And while I still miss him viscerally and deeply at some point each day, I’m not sad. Instead I’m unbelievably grateful. Because of his presence at my side, I had the courage to move across the country, to sell everything and tour in an old van, to live in a tiny house on wheels planting roots in a new community, to camp our way across the continent on a motorcycle-sidecar. He was my best friend and copilot. My inspiration to get out there and go for it.

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Bringing Baylor home as a puppy, I made a list of all the adventures I dreamed of sharing with him. And I took that seriously, marking them off one by one. Knowing we would only have a decade or so together was a much needed force in my life. Looking at him was a reminder that each day was precious and our time together would be over in a blink of an eye. I gave my best to him for 12 years and in return he gave me his entire life. Excitedly charging into unknown. Living each moment with unmatched passion and enthusiasm.

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These friends, sidekicks, copilots, adventure buddies and fur babies of ours never live as long as we wish, but I’ve come to understand there’s good reason for that. I see now that a dog’s short lifespan is a great gift indeed. A reality check and constant reminder. To live fully. To go after your dreams. To do it now without delay, because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

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So whether or not you have a furry friend at your side, I urge you live in dog years. To make that list and go after with all your might.

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Life is awesome and finite. Let’s make the most of it. Let’s live in dog years.

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Mallory Paige is a Storyteller & Adventurer. As creator of the Operation Moto Dog adventure, she spent 14 months camping across North America on a motorcycle-sidecar with Baylor the Dog – proving you don’t need to be fearless or perfect to live your dreams. Learn more at OperationMotoDog.com.

47 thoughts

  1. Beautiful story. I’m sitting here with my 12 year old black lab and each day I have her is a blessing. Your bond with Baylor is unbelievable and unbreakable.

  2. Your blogpost touched my heart. The pictures of you and Baylor in nature are so stunning and warm. A true companionship.

    1. Thank you so much. We were fortunate to experience so many beautiful places together. Memories to treasure forever and always ❤

  3. What an incredible story. I love the thought of living in Dog Years. So perfect. Thank you for sharing your story of life with Baylor. Makes me hug my girl Sydney, Chocolate lab, a little tighter and want to take her out exploring a lot more.

  4. What an inspirational read. I brought home a GSP puppy at 7 weeks last year with this thought in mind. I turned 50 last year, single, and I wanted a companion that would ‘take me on adventures’, keep me moving and excited to be outside doing new things and exploring new places. I ended up with a black lab also and the 2 are the loves of my life. We do everything together, go everywhere together and my whole life revolves around spending as much time with them as I can. When you talked about waking up happy and going to bed tired… so true. How can you possibly wake up to the 2 most lovable faces around and be unhappy? They enrich my life, bring me peace, joy, comfort, fun and endless love. I worry about losing them so this was so wonderful to read and I WILL live my life in dog years – from now on.

    1. Yes! Exactly Stacey. It really is impossible to be unhappy with such loving and fantastic companions. Wishing you and your furry friends a wonderful week!

  5. ummm, this is just perfect. Smiling through tears. What a great travel companion he was! Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. I’m smiling through the tears. Thank you for the reminder (we all need one) to live fully, be generous, patient and kind. But most of all to smile, each day is a gift. Thank you!

  7. Thank you for sharing some of your journey! The special bond with Baylor is much like mine with my lab (they could pass for siblings), the best friends that will never be replaced. Makes me cherish the time I have with her even more. Sending love to you and your beloved Baylor. xo

  8. Wow, what an awesome life, and awesome pictures of you guys on your adventures. Baylor was a lucky pup, and you a lucky mom.

  9. God bless you for being such a good friend to Baylor! You gave him the kind of life that doggie dreams are made of. Thank you for sharing your love story.

  10. Reading this with mixed tears of sadness and joy. I too take my Zorro everywhere with me. We are currently in Avalon on Catalina Island together. A huge part of our relationship is the people we meet and have conversations with. Something that would probably never happen if I didn’t have my boy by my side. I bet you had no idea, like me, the people you would meet because of him. How being stopped by pure strangers slows things down for a moment allowing some human connection that only a dog could make happen.
    Thank you for sharing Baylor with us. ❤

    1. You are so right LeeAnn. The relationships formed from traveling with a dog, really is the best and most unexpected part of adventuring together. They are such great ambassadors and we are lucky to be their sidekicks. Have fun exploring Catalina Island (one of my favorite places!) with Zorro!

  11. WOW!!! What a wonderful joyous life you provided him. You couldn’t have done more for Gods perfect creature. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  12. Great tribute to Baylor! I’ll be doing a 6-month road trip with my pup later this year, I’m so excited, mostly not to leave her home all day while I go to work! Heading to your website to check out your trip 🙂

    1. Fantastic Leigh! You are going to make memories of a lifetime. Have fun on the road!

  13. Thank you so much for this post, you gave Baylor a truly wonderful life. My black lab Denali is just 1 year old and I have every intention of making the most of her years. Will definitely be making a list❤️

  14. Thank you for sharing Baylor’s journey with us. It resonated deeply with me, as I said goodbye to my best friend on March 18, 2017. She also lived, barked and loved deeply and I was honored to have her in my life, although it was and never is long enough. Your relationship with Baylor was epic.

    1. Sending love Becky. It really is never long enough, but the love we share with these furry best friends is worth it indeed.

  15. Wonderful post and a wonderful life you had with Baylor and he had with you. I’m sorry for your loss. I traveled with my dog Brogan for six straight years in Europe – just a back back, a carry on and a leash – before he passed away just shy of 13. It’s an amazing way to live. Baylor will never be gone as long as you share memories of him – and he will keep on inspiring people for years to come.

  16. Thank you for this awesome post. I lost my 14 year old Shiba Inu a few weeks ago. The experience forced me to realize how short the time is with our furry lovelies, and with anyone really. I love the thought of living life in dog years! Like a doggie YOLO. 🐶

  17. A beautiful tribute to precious Baylor. Their lives are too short, all the more to love them no matter what lies ahead and live in the moment. What an awesome mom you were to Baylor. Thank you for sharing a bit of your lives with us. Peace

  18. Hi Mallory,
    So sorry you lost your bestie/sidekick/partner-in-crime/huglump/sloppy-kisser/precious/tent-buddy/adventurer.
    You are so much richer for knowing him, and he you.
    You gave him an incredible, most wonderful life,and he lives on through you.
    Maybe I should forget LTD (living the dream) and focus on living in dog years.
    Genius, my friend.
    Stay happy.
    Stephen

    1. Thank you so very much Stephen. You are absolutely right, our lives were all the richer for our time together. Hope you have a great dog-year-living day!

  19. I’m sure you miss Baylor everyday. And I hope you look forward to many more adventures with other animal friends.

    I live full time on a sailboat with my golden retriever, Honey. She reminds me to never take dolphins for granted, to enjoy rolling in the sand (it will come out of all those crevices someday), and to realize that sometimes there’s nothing better than napping in the sun in the cockpit of a rolling boat.

    Run free, Baylor.

    1. What an amazing life you and Honey have! So, so wonderful. Thank you for the kind words and give Honey an extra love from me today.

  20. Exactly this:
    Looking at him was a reminder that each day was precious and our time together would be over in a blink of an eye. I gave my best to him for 12 years and in return he gave me his entire life. Excitedly charging into unknown. Living each moment with unmatched passion and enthusiasm.

  21. Awww, that’s so sweet! So sorry for your loss. We lost our dog last October. This post is great, the pics alone are so entertaining! I can’t believe his birthday and death day were on the same day.

    1. Typical Baylor fashion to go out big – choosing his birthday. It was like he decided to live exactly to 12 and no longer 🙂 Thank you for the kind words and sending hugs for the loss of your sidekick.

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