Once upon a time, when I was checking my e-mail, I noticed a bulletin from Aberdeen Scottish Terrier Rescue. The notice was not unusual - I'm on the mailing list, and I always glance at their goings on. From time to time they throw fundraisers, recruit volunteers, and generally share information about my favorite kind of dog. Becoming useful to this group has long been a goal of mine; one that I had hoped to achieve once I fled the cube farm and reclaimed my time schedule. Haven't got there yet, you understand, but hope springs eternal.
And that's when I read about Bailey.
Bailey is a four-year-old puppy mill refugee. He lived for his entire life in one room, a poorly-insulated, converted side porch in a neighborhood widely known as one of Portland's armpits. Bailey shared his one-room world with 7 other dogs of various ages and stages of health. Nobody in the room was house-trained. Gobs of newspaper everywhere were allegedly there for that need. There was one big bowl with kibbles in it for everybody to share. There was a bowl of water, too, but it was much too dirty for anybody but the most desperate to drink. None of the dogs got to go outside, because 8 barking dogs might alert the neighbors, and thereby, the authorities. All 8 stayed in. All day. Every day.
Bailey was taken from this dark place to a foster home, where three happy and well-loved Scotties already live. For a week, Bailey was in shock. He would not play with the other dogs. Didn't know what toys were. Would not drink water, which his foster family had never seen, in their many years of Scottie rescue. Jeannie and John, Bailey's rescuing Angels, gave him sips of water with a teaspoon every hour for several days. They taught him about potty training. And they took him, for the first time ever, for walks.
For the first time in his life, Bailey went out into the crisp cold air and walked on a leash. He waked happily, enthusiastically, and always politely. The singular joy of being outdoors was the first and only happiness Bailey had ever known. He responded to the air and the light and the love by relaxing a little, inch by inch.
On the sixth day after Bailey's rescue, someone threw a switch. Bailey began to eat and drink on his own. He made friends with the other Scotties. He discovered toys. But he still loved his walks the best of all.
Bailey stayed with Jeannie and John for over a month, gradually becoming familiar with what it means to be loved by humans. And then Jeannie and John realized that Bailey was ready for a Forever Home, and out went the e-mail.
What happened next, you can probably guess. The Huff Family, led by our boss, Paisley, elected to recruit Bailey for membership.
He fits right in with us. He's really helpful when it comes to writing knitting books. Not easy for someone who can't see in color, if you think about it...
Paisley can do it, though, so she's a great help to us both:
And so Bailey is here with us now, and we are doing everything we know to help him forget the dark times.
Our house is small. But our hearts are not, and neither is Bailey's. He is opening up like a flower. Still flinches if we move too quickly toward him. Still waits to be told when it's time to eat and drink. But he wants so much to please us. And if ever we are in doubt about what he might need, we only have to take him for a walk. Funny the way things are: How little it takes to give love. How easy it is to offer the smallest kindness, which I now understand, can save a life.
God, please let me endeavor to be the person Bailey thinks I am.