People + Parks: Turning Grief into Goodness

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People + Parks
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By Elizabeth McGuire

When faced with a mountain of grief, one couple found a way to move through it with the help of their friends and their parks.

Alexandra Rodriguez and Christopher McBryde are the kind of dog owners who every pup deserves. In 2012 they rescued a 3-month-old Australian cattle dog, and from then on Bailey rarely left their side. They took her to parks, traveled across the country with her, and made her the center of their universe.

Cattle dogs typically live 12 to 14 years, but at age five Bailey was diagnosed with cancer, and one heartbreaking year later she was gone. Alexandra and Christopher were devastated.

“We didn’t know what to do with all the grief,” she said, “and our friends and family didn’t know how to comfort us.”

The couple decided to start a fundraiser on Facebook to honor Bailey and to give their friends a tangible way to support them. “I thought it would be nice for people—instead of sending prayers and thoughts—to be able to do something, so they wouldn’t feel as helpless,” said Rodriguez.

Their best memories with Bailey were at Austin parks, so choosing Austin Parks Foundation as the beneficiary was an easy decision.

“Bailey absolutely loved to go to Auditorium Shores and Barking Springs. So we thought that would be perfect to raise money for Austin parks so other dogs can experience what she enjoyed.”

Their original goal was $100, but they quickly surpassed that and eventually reached $575.

“You expect maybe $5 to $10 here or there,” said Rodriguez, “but then all of a sudden, we raised way more than we thought we would.”

The outpouring of support felt like the beginning of healing for the couple, and it helped chip away at that mountain of grief.

“I knew people cared about us,” Rodriguez said, “but to realize that they knew how important Bailey was to us, and how important it was for us to do something in her name…we felt so loved. It really did make it easier. It felt like something good was coming out of this huge loss.”


People + Parks is a series by writer and photographer Elizabeth McGuire and is dedicated to showcasing the people who make our work possible. Check out other stories by choosing the People + Parks category on our blog.