Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Saving Bailey

In the fall of 1999, I was looking for an internship. I scoured the Sunday newspaper and sent a fax to a Realtor seeking a marketing assistant. Within seconds of my resume clearing the fax machine, the phone rang.

That was how I came to work three days a week for a Realtor that primarily sold houses built by his father. The creepy fast phone call should have been some indicator of the sort of boss this man, let's call him Ned, would be. I didn't pick up on the full scope of his dysfunction until months later when I became suddenly unemployed due to Ned's personal problems that spilled over into his nearly foolproof business. Nepotism is typically so hard to screw up. Ned did it.

My life chugged along outside of the real estate sector until a series of events led me back to Ned and my same old job. I was working in downtown Pittsburgh on a sunny Tuesday morning, the eleventh of September, 2001.

It was my second month working full-time for a small PR firm. I had graduated from college with my BSBA in marketing and was earning a living as some sort of writer. I wrote several pieces, one that was quite successful. My boss, the company's owner, is difficult to describe using my own G-rated vocabulary.

He wasn't very nice. We'll call him Mr. Jellyshaft.

On more than one occasion he caused me to have an anxiety attack. I retreated to the bathroom to cry more than once. He would walk past my desk and say things like, "let's use the speaker phone so our hands can be working while we're on hold."

That was a pleasant interaction.

I was chastised for fastening a document with the staple diagonal to the corner. (Staples should be parallel to the top.) I once failed to name a document properly on the company server, and my writing was possibly the worst Mr. Jellyshaft had ever encountered.

I was unhappy walking to work that day, but the sun was shining. Even the homeless people seemed chipper as I walked from the T-station to the office.

Somehow, co-workers started getting news about the terrorist attacks even though outside media was strictly prohibited. I was confused, but still scared. By mid-morning we had a pow wow in the center of the office. Our boss begrudgingly let us go home for the day.

The world changed on 9-11. I was no longer comfortable using public transportation to work in the big city. The way Mr. Jellyshaft acted that morning was the last straw in my futile attempts to tolerate him. The entire staff thought we might all be dying. He was worried about who was going to make follow-up calls to place articles about a crappy Civil War DVD.

Ned called about that time and asked me to come back to work for him. By Thanksgiving of 2001, I was back in real estate. I knew all about Ned, I thought. He was paying me more money and I didn't have to commute as far. Ned was friendly and I now worked out of his home office. I liked Ned's home office because Ned had a puppy.

Ned named his puppy, Bailey. He asked me to let Bailey out on my first day of work. I went into a back room behind the basement office and opened his crate. Out came this white fuzz ball, as cute as can be, wiggling from head to toe. Bailey greeted me by wrapping both front paws around my neck in a cute puppy hug.

I was immediately in love with the little fuzzy guy.
Bailey reacting to Julia's touch. Never did get to the point
where he actually liked it. More of a view the kid at a
distance kind of guy.

And Ned and I got along well too. In the beginning. There was, as there had been the first time, a lot of work to be done organizing documents. Piles and piles of papers needed filed. There was a long backlog of forms that needed filled out. Houses had to be photographed. I had to do stuff that Ned didn't posses the attention span to handle.

Also, someone had to take care of his dog.

The puppy, purchased at the suggestion of Ned's therapist, was supposed to teach him responsibility. Though Bailey required things that a responsible person would have provided, Ned's capacity to be responsible was inadequate. Vendors told me that Ned sometimes locked Bailey in the garage of his house with no water for more more than 18 hours at a time. The puppy had already broken a leg in a suspicious event involving stairs. (Bailey always was a bit shy on some staircases.)

Bailey wasn't housebroken. His trips outside the house were confined to a wooden deck. He didn't know where to go. He liked to pee on leather. Leather coats thrown on the floor, leather couches, anything with that particular scent was a nice pee place for Bailey.

I did the housebreaking, walking and feeding. I suggested that he be permitted to poop on grass. In his short life, he'd only ever pooped on the deck. I took him to the groomer. I took him to the vet.

Ned paid for everything his puppy needed, but his only interaction with him was to scream, "get that dog the *@$% out of here."

Once, I was in the vicinity of Ned's house on the weekend. I suggested driving past my workplace to show my mom and dad. Since I knew the code to get into the office, I also went to take Bailey for a walk.

Bailey was thrilled to be free of his crate. He at once impressed my father with the severity of his predicament by pooping four times consecutively in the middle of the road. He hadn't been out since I left him on Friday afternoon.
Bailey enjoying a bath.

Ned's dad slowly but surely talked him into getting rid of the puppy. Bailey went to live with a herd of other Shih Tzus housed by some friend of Ned's family. That set up lasted only one night. Bailey was too wild to be kept in a house with three other dogs and four small children.

With no other homes readily available, my parents decided to give Bailey a trial in our house. He was soon calm and fully house broken. He became my dad's best friend. They lived in man-dog bliss for years after I got married and moved away.
My real estate assistant career didn't last. Soon after Bailey changed residency, my job once again ceased to exist. I told Ned not to call me again. Ever.

Eventually, I found a decent employer that kept me busy doing actual work that used my degree. It lasted until I had my daughter. I think sometimes that that job with Ned was a waste. He fooled me twice into thinking it was really going to be something. That I could support myself working for him.  

Bailey with our shih tzu, Leia in 2007
But then I think of Bailey. He was the bright side in that tumultuous time. I think there's always something gained from any of life's lessons. In this case it was the thirteen years we got to spend with a very special puppy. 

For Bailey, June 22, 2001 - March 12, 2014
Thanks for being my bright side.