February 26, 2024

Bowlingual Dog

Animal Planet Directory

Lost dog runs back to El Paso animal shelter where she once lived


It had been 36 hours since Bailey the dog disappeared. Her new owner and the animal shelter where she had lived for more than a year knew that every second that passed dimmed the likelihood that she would be found alive.

The Animal Rescue League of El Paso sounded the alarm on its Facebook page: Bailey was missing, and it needed locals to keep an eye out and notify the shelter if she was spotted. People soon called in sightings. Others joined in the search. Her owner scoured the city deep into the night.

All of it for naught. Bailey remained on the loose, at risk of being run over, ravaged by a wild animal or falling prey to some unknown horror in the unforgiving West Texas desert. Then, deep into the second night after her disappearance, animal shelter employees were notified that someone was pressing their Ring camera doorbell. They opened up the app, which showed the exterior of the animal shelter and its late-night caller: Bailey.

Her doorbell camera cameo ended a 36-hour search for a dog that did not need to be rescued. Bailey knew where she was going and traveled some 10 miles to get there. But she now faced an obstacle she could not overcome. Without a key or opposable thumbs, she needed someone to let her in.

Bailey first came to the Animal Rescue League of El Paso more than a year ago. After housing her for a few months, another shelter transferred her to the rescue league in the hopes that its higher foot traffic would lead to her adoption.

Despite the boost, Bailey languished at the rescue league for more than a year because of “some quirks that were not easy for people to overcome,” including being hyper, untrained and a bit of an “escape artist,” according to rescue league director Loretta Hyde. “She spent most of her life in a shelter,” Hyde said, adding that Bailey took an obedience course during her time at the rescue league.

Bailey’s quirks bubbled up after she was adopted a few months ago, Hyde added. Her new owner returned her three days later because Bailey escaped from her crate and destroyed a piece of his artwork. About a month later, a second owner adopted her. He already had a feral dog that he had painstakingly trained for a year. After a few visits to make sure the two got along, he brought Bailey into the fold, taking the two dogs with him every day to his job training, teaching and competing in martial arts.

All was going well until around noon on Jan. 29 when Bailey slipped her new owner’s grasp as he tried to fit her for a new harness and bolted, Hyde said. He chased her on foot and then by car, but she eluded both efforts. So he called the shelter, which put out an urgent alert on its Facebook page that night informing its more than 33,000 followers that Bailey was on the loose and asking them to report any sightings.

There were at least three over the next 36 hours but none panned out, Hyde said. By the time shelter workers arrived at each location, Bailey had taken off. One of the shelter employees, Yvonne Arratia, was at home in bed and nearly asleep on Jan. 31 when she heard a loud ding from her phone.

The noise meant that someone was pushing the shelter’s Ring doorbell. But it was 1:15 in the morning. No one would be there this late, she thought, believing she was dreaming. Then, a second ding. And finally a robotic voice emanated from the phone: “Someone is at your door.”

Annoyed, she got up to check. She opened the Ring app, which showed an image of the late-night caller with two beady eyes glowing in the dark. Then, the animal’s full body came into view. “Oh my God, is that Bailey?!”

Arratia ran to her daughter’s room. Geneieve also worked at the shelter and Arratia wanted her opinion. They unmuted the doorbell’s microphone so they could speak with the dog outside the shelter. “Bailey! Bailey! Is that you?!”

Bailey’s brown head popped up to fill the entire screen, followed by whining and scratching at the door. Arratia and her daughter hopped in the car and started heading to the shelter. Arratia drove while Geneieve kept talking with Bailey through the phone, coaxing her to stay put during the roughly 15 minutes it took them to get there.

When they did, Bailey was ecstatic. Arratia secured her in a harness and let her into the shelter. Bailey muscled her way back to the kennels where she had lived for more than a year. They fed her and let her rest. Later that morning, they notified her owner that his dog had been found safe and was at the shelter.

Hyde said she gave him a bit of a scolding when he arrived, telling him to be more careful. He agreed to walk her using two leashes and to get a collar outfitted with a tracker. “We are just lucky that she made it across all these super busy streets and not get smushed,” Hyde said. “She has some street smarts as well.”

Bailey’s odyssey reminded Hyde how amazing dogs are. During her trip, she traveled some 10 miles, crossing over a main drag in El Paso and Interstate 10 to somehow find her way back to the shelter. Hyde said that is a feather in the shelter’s cap.

“She lived at the shelter for soooo long this was home to her,” the shelter wrote one Facebook announcing that Bailey had been found. “She felt safe here. When she got loose she was on a mission to get home.”