Friday, August 28, 2009

WHO GETS CUSTODY


The man had the very small ratty poodle/something dog by the scruff of the neck and was spraying her liberally with Raid Ant and Roach Killer. I was wearing Power Company ID so I chose my words carefully.

"Ah, do you think that is safe to do?"

"I don't know," he answered, " but she is absolutely covered in fleas and I didn't have the heart to just let her be."

"She is not your dog?" I asked knowing the answer.

"Naw," he replied releasing her to roll in the sand, sneezing. "Someone dropped her off and she has become a neighborhood dog. We all put food out for her."

I gave him my card and offered to take her, get her vet checked and find a permanent home for her. That is how I met Bailey.




These pictures are not mine nor of Bailey but accurate representations.

She was matted, wormy and anemic from so many fleas and hook worms, but for all her woes, was a sweet natured dog if quite unattractive. I had only had her a few days when two of my sponsors dropped in for a visit. I had known Bill and Mary since I had come to Okeechobee. They lived on and operated a really nice RV park on about 15 acres so they basically worked at home.

Bailey, in all her rattiness, was all over Bill and Mary as I told them her story. Mary really wanted Bailey the instant she saw her but Bill was adamant that they did not need another dog. They had a darling little aging terrier all ready. They drove off arguing but came back the next day. Mary was beaming and chatty while Bill glared in stony silence. Mary announced they wanted to adopt Bailey. I looked at Bill and though he nodded, he said nothing. He had lost this battle and was not amused. They again drove off, this time with Bailey on the seat between them.







First thing they did was get her groomed and my what a difference. It is often said that a good groomer can carve a show dog out of a pile of hair. Bailey was carved into a really cute apricot poodle. She remained toy size and totally won over Bill. M & B's children were grown so Bailey and the terrier Scamp, filled the empty nest. Several years passed and Scamp passed of old age. That left Bailey in total rule.

They started taking separate vacations just so that one of them would always be at home to care for the dog. Their whole lives revolved around that little dog. One day, Mary and I were having coffee at a local coffee house when she dropped a bomb. She told me that she and Bill were getting a divorce. I knew they squabbled but had no idea they were considering a split for they had been married 25 years. Then Mary teared up and said, " I don't know what we will do about Bailey." It seems neither would relinquish custody.

This was a job for King Solomon and I don't mean cutting the dog in half. I wish I could say that I came up with a brilliant solution but I was stumped. Eventually, they decided to live in separate homes on the property, eat together and work together but go to the separate homes at night, alternating Bailey every other night. They told me they were very careful not to argue in front of the dog. I have heard of parents staying together for the children but this was a first for me regarding a dog.

The odd thing is that when Bailey died at 14 , Bill and Mary were so used to the living arrangements that they continued exactly as they had when Bailey was alive. A peaceful coexistence. As far as I know, they are still kind of together, which has made their two legged kids very happy.

Bailey was a powerful source for peace. She taught them that if they wanted something bad enough, it would take compromise to keep it. Now if only our politicians and all those rival nations around the world could relax into such a simple solution. Dream on Patti.

21 comments :

  1. I have read of fierce divorce proceedings over pets, usually dogs. What is particularly sad, is the same persons don't fight over the kids they've had. I wonder how that affects children?

    When we lived in Baltimore, the above scenario transpired with our next-door neighbor with a delightful old German Shepherd, Felicia.

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  2. Divorce and pets are a difficult combination. Been there, done that.
    No kids involved, just a sweet little dog.
    It's not easy because pets become so much a part of the family. That was many years ago but it still makes to sad to think about it.
    Sunny :)

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  3. Again one of your beautiful stories! You should collect all the stories and write a book!

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  4. Just having returned home from a custody case involving an African Grey parrot. The judge gave visitation orders, and is treating this like a child custody! Hello! I love animals too, but this is sad. If we put have as much energy into Children it might just be a better world.

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  5. Another wonderful tale of a pup who finally got the love she deserved. I wish the world was full of these kinds of stories rather than the others.

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  6. Powerful story Patti ( I hope I can call you that ).. I was bowled over. True love transcends all barriers .. dogs or humans.. everyone feels !

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  7. Nitwit,
    M & B's children were all grown and with their own lives. I haven't personally heard of a case where the animal took precedence over a child but I guess it could happen as it did in the case you mentioned. That is too sad.

    Sunny,
    I can totally understand how awful it must be to divorce an have a living creature that you love as a family member, be torn between you and possibly from you. It hurts.

    Reader Wil,
    Aw, thank you so much for your confidence in me. Think I will stick to blogging and my wonderful readers.

    Brighid,
    Interesting case. Parrots do live for 70 years, talk and are affectionate, I can see how someone would get very attached. I guess if those people had children also, that would be unfortunate. But if they only had the parrot, I understand the need to go to court if they couldn't resolve it privately.

    robin,
    Thanks,I always considered Bailey one of my best success stories. She was adored to pieces from the day they got her.

    lostworld,
    Yes, you may call me Patti. The love an animal gives and receives is very deep and true. They bring so much joy to a persons life, I can see why people fight to keep them in their lives.

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  8. Another great story! Reminded me of a couple I knew. No dog in my story, but these two people wanted to build a house, and couldn't agree on the style. They ended up building two houses on their land, and the husband lived in one and the wife in the other. They found that they liked that arrangement. There must have been some "commuting" back and forth, though, becasuse there was no divorce.

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  9. the power of an animal's love is so strong

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  10. Love that story Betty. If I were ever to hop down the marriage trail again,I think that would be the perfect situation. It would help keep a little mystery in a relationship plus give you a bit of personal space.


    You know it Dianne. Therapy dogs prove that every day.

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  11. Happy ending in an odd way...good story Patti...all the comments were fun too!

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  12. Thanks Wanda, it wasn't really traditional but was a functional solution. Glad you enjoyed.

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  13. Another wonderful story! Thanks for sharing. I fought (and won) to have have full custody of my children; don't know what I'd do about animals. My present cats are definitely my fur-babies and not up for grabs!

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  14. Bailey's story was a heart mender. I wish there were more people like you around that are savy enough to make things happen.

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  15. Well this is a first for me - I just read a tragedy and felt good at end – That’s pretty good writing when you can do that for the reader. Be Proud.

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  16. Pat,
    I am so sorry you had to go thru that ordeal(all divorces are ordeals) and am glad you won.
    I totally understand your attachment to your fur babies.

    Brighid,
    Thank you. When ever I found such devoted people to care for a pet, I felt really good. Wish they were all success stories but unfortunately they weren't.

    Grayquill,
    Thanks so much Gray. I just love happy endings. Most often if people just look hard enough, don't give up,and work a bit, they are there. A lesson I learned late.

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  17. I agree, I wish nations could find more peaceful resolutions as well.
    Great story!

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  18. What a neat story, Patti. Isn't it amazing what animals can do to humans??? Bailey was one lucky dog--having 'parents' who loved her so much.

    Sorry about the divorce---but it seems as if those two worked it out the best way possible.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  19. olkhdan,
    You know it is terribly simplistic and naive of me but I do think there are answers to world problems, we just haven't evolved enough to find them nor managed to scrub greed from our natures.

    Thanks Betsy,
    Bailey saved them getting a divorce and they were able to find a workable solution to their marriage. Caring about something more than themselves seemed to work.

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  20. What a great story about Bailey....And indeed, if only our politicians knew how to consider compromise...!
    It is amazing that Bailey kept them together---sort of....I truly think it is wonderful that thry found a workable solution!

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  21. OOLOH
    Thanks, me too. We are millions of years old as a species but we haven't yet learned that the whole pie gives you a belly ache, while sharing gives you peace and a friend. We do it quite well as individuals, it is just as nations that we struggle with the concept.

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