I dedicate this first entry to my faithful companion Bailey. The third anniversary of his passing occurred recently, June 30th, to be exact. I still have his ashes.

The recent Mega Pet Adoption Event held at Exhibition Place reminded my of how Bailey came into my life. I adopted him in 1997 from The Toronto Humane Society. I was told he had been in the shelter for months, waiting to be adopted. He was the dog that no one seemed to want. He paced in his cage incessantly, weighed half of what his normal weight was supposed to be for a German Shepherd/Australian Cattle Dog, and suffered terrible separation anxiety. His behavior also seemed to indicate that he had been abused by his previous owner. His first year of life had been a difficult one. I knew he had been given excellent care at the shelter and he was obviously a sweet soul. Perhaps it was my previous experience at the shelter as a volunteer dog walker, part-time staff member in the store and the fact that I had adopted from them before, that made someone think (hope) we would be a good match.

Our new life together was no walk in the park. He viewed me as a great big toy and injured me regularly. After a split lip and getting knocked out cold by his hard head, my vet told me to forget the “adjustment” period and bring him in to be neutered ASAP. He chewed through a door, ate off the kitchen counter, pulled items out of the sink and thought the cat’s litterbox would make a great backup source for something tasty. He was also no longer housebroken. He needed to be crated during this time and barked incessantly. This is how I ended up installing air conditioning throughout the house so I could keep the windows closed. (An anonymous note told me that he was disturbing my neighbors for hours on end.)

As trainers began to give up on us one by one, I knew this was going to be a long, painful process for both of us. I was bound and determined to get this dog out of the crate, so I let him have free run of the house (alone) at ever-increasing five minute intervals. If he caused damage, we started all over again. It took a year and a half before that crate was banished to the storage room for good. I learned that dedication and patience are sometimes part of the adoption process. There are no “perfect” dogs. At the beginning I was ambivalent about adopting him, but he seemed to devote himself to me completely from the get-go and I was hooked.

We had 14 wonderful years together before he was gently put to rest in our home on that early summer night three years ago. I cried like a baby. He turned out to be the best dog and the most loyal companion. He was the dog that nobody wanted and an impossible act to follow. I can’t bring myself to adopt another dog yet, but I keep checking the rescue sites…

Pass the kleenex!



P.S. Bailey’s life was chronicled before the purchase of my digital camera. If you’d like to see a pic of my sweet old guy, check out my new facebook page.