Friday, November 17, 2017

279. Bump Bailey, Birdie, and betrayal

We lost our beloved dogs — Petey, the handsome pit bull mix, and Sky, our semi-famous and talkative greyhound — within a month of each other in late Summer 2015.

For different reasons, we are still not over either one of them. Petey was a loyal friend who had a rough go of it early in his life. Tattooed on my arm, he will be with me forever. I see his beautiful face every morning in the mirror. Sky also had a rough time finding a home, being passed back and forth several times. I felt a mental connection with him — I could start a conversation just by giving him “that look.” A victim of bone cancer, a common curse among greyhounds, I will never get his pain out of my head.

Suddenly we were down to one dog, but we needed some time before looking for another. Bump Bailey lavished in the attention as he tried to fill our broken hearts.

Eventually we decided it was time to add to our family and hoped that Bailey would like to have a companion. He got along well, from the first moment with Petey and Sky, so we weren’t worried that he would take issue letting another dog into our house.

We were mistaken.

We tried to introduce him to three other dogs of his size and mixed breed. We searched animal shelter and rescue groups and took him to test compatibility. Bailey wasn’t having it. One adorable little dog couldn’t get even get in the driveway. Another would not leave Bailey alone, pestering him and testing his patience. Still another couldn’t even pass the sniff test.

The process was difficult as it broke our hearts to see all the dogs that needed a home. Ready to give up, we thought we would try a greyhound. They are big, sometimes independent, and Bailey got along well with Sky. We found one that needed a home, a beautiful brindle named Birdie. The foster family was leaving for a weekend and we thought we would invite Birdie over and give it a try.

We slowly introduced her to our home and everything went well. She was sweet and loving and quickly made herself at home. We thought we had another dog.

But Bailey pouted. Really pouted.

Normally, Bailey was always on top of me, wrestling or playing with his squeaky toy. He cuddled with my wife in her chair. He actually laid on the desk when we worked in the office. He just had this infectious silly attitude and loved life.

While Bailey didn’t engage with Birdie, we noticed that he was separating himself from us. He sat in the corner of the room, wouldn’t play, and wouldn’t cuddle. He slept on the floor rather than our bed. It’s like we betrayed him, breaking his heart.

It also broke ours and we sadly returned Birdie when the foster family came home.

What we didn’t expect was Bailey to hold a grudge, but he did. Even after Birdie left, he ignored us, slept on the floor, wouldn’t play. He knows that when I get down on the floor, it’s play time — his tail wagging rapidly as he runs to get his toy. But now, he would literally leave the room.

It was sort of unbelievable. Dogs are supposed to love unconditionally, and we wondered if we would get our Bailey back. Then we left for vacation and we were gone for 16 days. When we got back, things slowly returned to normal. We now do everything we used to do. I think he missed us and decided it was time to forgive us.

It’s hard not rescuing another dog; my wife had to take herself off all the rescue sites. But Bailey is my best friend and I can’t hurt his feelings again. He might be selfish with our love, but he doesn’t know different. After all, he spent months in a quiet, cold cage all by himself. I can’t imagine how miserable he must have been.

Like any relationship, there are up and downs. It’s been a rough couple of years for all of us, but we worked it out.