Thursday, January 22, 2015

227. How Bailey became family

His official name is “Bump” Bailey, playfully named after the somewhat fictional character in the baseball classic, “The Natural.” He is also known as “Tater Tot” and our “Itty Bitty Pitty.”

Bailey is our newest dog, arriving in late April under unusual circumstances.

Last year I served as president of Erie Shore Greyhound Adoption of Ohio (ESGAO), whose sole purpose is to place “retired” racers into loving homes. While we fell in love with dozens of rescues, we knew that we could not take on a third dog. Our beloved bulldog mix, Petey, has cancer and we wanted to wait. We’re a two dog household, it just works better—though we’d have a dozen or more if we could.  We gave the same spiel many times and looked forward to the day we could add another greyhound to the family. Sky, our current greyhound, is just such a beautiful and wonderful dog.

Twice a year, April and October, ESGAO hosts a membership event on a beautiful farm in Medina. We have games, silent auction, vendors, refreshments, raffle and greyhounds—lots of them. It’s a busy day, which requires lots of preparation and set-up.

For our April event, we went the night before to set-up. The farm also has a kennel, where the owners care for and train dogs. During our entire two day visit to the farm, we could hear one dog in the kennel just letting out the largest and saddest cry over and over. Though we didn’t know his situation, and as heartbreaking as it was, we assumed that his family was out of town and would come back to get him Monday. We tried to ignore the whining.

As luck would have it, we were just about to leave the event when my wife asked the farm owner about the dog in the kennel. She told us that he was a stray that she had picked up. She said she checked everywhere, such as local vets and dog shelters, looking for his owner.

However, the farm owner and her husband were battling health issues and were not taking borders. Therefore, this sweet pup was in the kennel, alone, for four months in the big barn, without sunlight, the entire time. She was so kind to save him and care for him, but that was his reality.

We weren’t home a day and my wife just couldn’t get him out of her mind. And I could still hear the cries in my head. A few days later, my wife could not handle it and off she went to get the dog.

As sweet as he can be, the all black tiny pit bull mix of about two years, spent the first couple of weeks in our garage. We got him fixed, of course, and made sure he was healthy and healed. Each time we peaked in the garage, he came to life running and jumping, as he now had someone to play with him.

We had hoped to find him a home, still believing that we’re a two dog household, but it was a losing battle. He playfully leaped into our hearts and we made only a halfhearted effort to really find him a home.

Shortly thereafter, we couldn’t imagine life without him. We introduced him to Sky and Petey with minimal complications. It turns out everyone loves this cute little energetic dog. He’s small enough to be a lap dog, barely—though playing is a full time gig. My brother said he is the happiest dog he’s ever seen.

His youthfulness and spirit is new for us—we’ve rescued mostly adult dogs in the past. He wakes up every morning like it’s the best day of his life. Knowing how happy he can be, and how much he seems to enjoy life, it makes us sad to wonder how he got through four months of isolation.

Life is sometimes most fun when it doesn’t go the way you plan. We’re lucky to have Bailey—and I think he likes it here.

But our next dog will be a greyhound. I’m certain.

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