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