Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Barbara Bagley and Dooley!

Dooley, Delany, and Dad
The emails started first thing Monday morning on March 5th. People from all over the country--people I didn't even know--were emailing me the story of Barbara Bagley and her missing-- and then found-- sheltie, Dooley. Everyone kept asking, "Have you seen this? It's life imitating art! It's just like A Dog's Way Home."

And in many ways, it was. Dooley and his much beloved Girl, Barbara, were torn from each other in a terrible car crash, just like Tam and his girl, Abby, in my book. Dooley was lost for fifty-three days in the west desert of Nevada, surviving however he could, just like Tam. And Barbara, just like Abby, never gave up on hope for finding her beloved Dooley.

But Barbara and Dooley's story was much harder than my made up tragedy in A Dog's Way Home. When Barbara and her husband crashed on Dec. 27th, her other sheltie Delany, was killed;  her husband, Brad, died later from injuries sustained in the crash. Barbara herself sustained numerous injuries including broken ribs, a shattered wrist and a concussion. Dooley was no where to be found. He had vanished into the vast and bleak desert. No one believed he'd ever be found, and certainly not alive.

The bleak Nevada desert
Humane traps set for Dooley
Except Barbara. She told reporters, "Something inside me told me Dooley was still alive out there." And realizing what finding Dooley could mean for Barbara's recovery, dozens of volunteers and friends began searching for Dooley. Finally, after 53 days, Dooley was found about five miles from the crash site. Barbara couldn't believe it when friends called her to tell her they had Dooley. You can just imagine that the tears were flowing during that reunion! As Barbara said, "It's a message from my husband who was looking out for him."

Dooley & Barb reunited
Needless to say, I was floored by the story. It was so similar to A Dog's Way Home. Since Barbara and Dooley lived in Salt Lake City (not far from where I live), I debated on reaching out to her. So imagine my astonishment when she contacted me via FaceBook! Her message began, "You probably don't remember me, but I actually bought a copy of that book from you just before Christmas. You signed it to give to my husband." Chills ran through me. But the connection was about to get even more powerful. "That book," she said. "was actually in the car at the time of the accident. My son was totally freaked when he saw that book cover in the mangled mess that was our car." After reading this, I was in tears. I sobbed. But then later she said to me, "My son was actually very hopeful when he saw the book in the wreckage. He kept saying to me, 'I think it means Dooley is coming home." And he did.

I've been blessed with many connections with people because of A Dog's Way Home. And I've been gratified (as authors are) that my book has touched so many people. But the fact that my book--that beautiful sheltie face and hopeful title--gave Barbara and her son hope that there would be joy despite all the sadness they had experienced means more than I could ever, ever express.

Barbara and I plan to meet soon in Salt Lake. Again. I want to hug her and look into Dooley's eyes. Until then, I wanted to celebrate their special bond by spotlighting the two of them in today's very special Fido and Friend in Five.

1. How did you and Dooley find each other?
 When I met my husband he had a Lhasa Apso that was 4 years old named Oliver. I had 3 kids, the youngest was also 4 years old. We blended our family very nicely. My kids became his and his canine kid became mine. 5 years ago Oliver died. He was 20 years old when he passed.  I was, as you can imagine, heart broken. My husband ordered Dooley from a kennel called “Heartfelt shelties” from Akron Ohio, and he arrived on an airplane around the 24 of July.  He was at that time 13 weeks old and he and I bonded immediately. He healed my broken heart. My husband was the most thoughtful person in the world.

2. What makes Dooley's tail wag?
He loves to kiss and wag his tail when you return home from anyplace! If you say his name quietly his tail wags. If you offer anything from your plate his tail wags.
Home and safe at last

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?
This a really hard question because there are so many really great books out there. Here are some that I love, A Dog's Purpose, and also Southern Fried Divorce  with the brown dog.  All Creatures Great and Small, really anything James Herriot. (Barbara has not been able to bring herself to read my book yet).

4. If Dooley could change just one thing about you, what would it be?
That he would want me to change my mind about the dangers of chasing things. I think he would want me to let him run and chase all the bikes and cars and skateboarders to his heart’s content.  Also, he would want to eat anything and everything if I would let him. This is actually new since his time lost and starving in the desert.

5. In five words, tell us what Dooley means to you:
Dooley, my dog of hope.

Seriously, is there a dry eye in the house? Thank you so much to Barbara and Dooley for allowing me to share their remarkable story with you.