In mid-March 2020, I read that the animal shelters in Maricopa County were most likely going to be closed for a while due to COVID-19 and there was a lot of concern about the well being of the cats and dogs living within them. Like the idiot that I typically am, I told my wife this news. In a matter of minutes, the decision was made that she and our youngest daughter were going to go and see if they could find a dog to add to our already busy household full of pets.
They looked online at lots of dogs, and I was inundated with pictures in my texts saying, “What about this one?” or “What do you think of her?” While I do love animals and would have a zoo if it were feasible, I was pretty satisfied with the menagerie we already had. Then they found the dog who would come to be known as “Bailey.”
The description of Bailey on the county website was not entirely accurate. While it did share some of her predilections, it definitely was not the whole story. Rhondi and Teresa made an appointment to go down and visit with her, though, and I waited at home with bated breath.
When Rhondi called me on her way home from the pound, I knew instantly that we probably had a new dog. She wasn’t able to bring her home right away, but during her time with Bailey, Rhondi fell in love and so did Teresa. The plan was that Bailey was going to be Teresa’s dog as they both had some awkward tendencies when faced with new situations and a lot of anxiety.
I relented (I had no choice, really) and began to look forward to meeting this dog.
Rhondi shared with me that the staff at the pound tried very hard to convince her that Bailey was not the dog for us. First of all, Bailey never wanted to leave her kennel and when she did, she would turn into a canine pancake almost instantly, hugging the floor or wall or both if possible. She was not particularly friendly and wouldn’t, according to the staff, take treats from anyone except one person.
If you know my wife, you know that she is not stopped by this type of challenge, at all, and before she and Teresa left the pound, Bailey had taken a treat from Rhondi and allowed her to pet her a little bit. They were able to pick her up in a couple of days, so the clock began ticking on Bailey coming to her new home.
Rhondi and Ashton went to pick her up and Bailey promptly shit all over the kennel they gave us at the pound which was small enough to mean that Bailey also shit all over herself while they were driving home. Rhondi said the smell of the poop was about as offensive as anything she had ever smelled, as if Bailey was using this to keep her new captors away from her.
This is no wonder, though, now as I think of it. The worst part of Bailey’s story I have not even gotten to yet. Rhondi was told that it seemed as if Bailey had been badly abused as a puppy (she was about 10 months old when we got her) and the theory at the pound was that she had been thrown from a moving car. I’m not a violent person, usually, and not in the last 30 years or more, but if I had the chance to spend a few minutes with the person who hurt Bailey, I might not be accountable for my actions. It breaks my heart that someone would hurt Bailey, or any animal, in that way. It is no wonder that she was very shut down and not looking to open up to anyone.
So, back to the story…
Poor Bailey, covered in her own super stinky shit, had the pleasure of coming to her new home and had to take a bath right away. Rhondi brought her in and took Bailey into her office as we didn’t want to introduce her, just yet, to the other dogs (Bentley, Frank, and our late sweetie, Rose, who I talked about in a previous blog). Bailey found a safe corner, and this is where I first met her and where she stayed for about two weeks or so.
When she did leave the corner to go out and pee, she would hug the walls between the office and the backyard and quickly do her business before wanting to come right back inside. She did start to bond with Rhondi and Teresa, though, and would allow me to pet her if she couldn’t get away from me in her corner of the office.
Since it was spring and the city was shut down for the virus, we spent a lot of time hanging outside and drinking beer and talking. We began to have some family time in the backyard and Bailey started joining us. She met the other dogs, and everything seemed to be okay between them all, with Frank and Rose even being adopted by Bailey as her new parents, or so it seemed. Rose was definitely a mama dog, and she took an instant interest and affection for Bailey.
During these outdoor hangouts, we learned a few things about Bailey as she got more and more brave. One, she is very fast. She would zoom around the yard’ and I feared she was going to wear out our old pugs. Two, she can really jump. Oh, wow can she fly! She would get going so fast that rather than trampling the pugs as they raced around, she would just soar over them.
As she got more comfortable with the backyard and was spending more time out there, I noticed how jealous she was, too. If I were taking the garbage out, the dogs would all follow me to the back gate and usually Bentley and Frank would wait for me there to come back and give them some pets. Being that they are little guys, it was common for them to stand on their hind legs to stretch up to me using their front paws to steady themselves on my leg at the knee.
Bailey would come up and sweep their back legs out from under them so she could get the pets. I found this to be super entertaining and loved that our new dog was warming up to me. Our relationship, at first, was one of wariness and a little fear. It became apparent that Bailey had been abused by a man and probably a tall one at that. If I was sitting down, she was way less scared of me than if I walked up to her.
For the first few months, I was, admittedly, not sure if we had made a good decision. Being a dog lover and as someone who animals usually take to pretty quickly, it was killing me that Bailey was afraid of me. I was super bummed out and if I’m being honest, became a little resentful of our new family member.
Then, in near or maybe on Memorial Day, Bailey mauled Bentley and almost killed him.
I’m not sure what happened, but we heard dog’s fighting in the backyard, and I ran out there to find Bentley pinned to the ground by Bailey and I could hear and see that he was in big trouble. It all happened so fast that I don’t remember how I got them separated, but it was quickly apparent that Benny needed to go to the animal hospital to get stitched up. A few hundred dollars later, he came home and the relationship between the two animals was pretty much destroyed.
I resented Bailey even more, at this point, and voiced my opinion that we had made a mistake. While I wanted to love her, I just couldn’t bare the idea that she would have killed Bentley if we hadn’t been home to stop the one-sided fight.
Then it happened again.
I wanted to mend the fences so badly that I started allowing Benny and Bailey to be outside together with my supervision and things were looking up. They were wary of each other, but it seemed to be okay. One night, though, I turned my back for two seconds and boom! Another fight and another trip to the vet for Bentley, although it was not as bad this time around. I was so angry, though, and I steered clear of Bailey for a while.
It’s hard to imagine those days now, though. Flashing forward 18 months, Bailey sleeps cuddled up next to me every night. J
More on this story to come because it is a great story and there are many cool and fun things that have happened as Bailey has blossomed into the dog she is today. Baby steps, though. Dr. Leo Marvin would be proud.
See you tomorrow.