Bailey Collins, a fine specimen of caninehood, is facing yet another life-changing event.
It's not as tragic as what happened Aug. 9 when the 5-year-old bloodhound-Rottweiler mix was riding home to Divide with her companion John Collins as they did every day. The two were inseparable, going to John's concrete work sites together.
But this time, the old Mercedes was swept up in a deadly whirlpool of debris that crossed U.S. 24 in Ute Pass. When the flood subsided, rescuers found the body of Collins, who apparently drowned. Bailey was wandering dazed and limping amid the muddy flotsam.
Deputies brought the dog home to Collins' wife, Dana, about 2 a.m. The next day, the dog's injured ligament was treated by a veterinarian. "I don't know how she survived," Dana says.
In the weeks since, Bailey often sits at the top of the stairs waiting patiently for John to return, Dana says.
"It's like she is saying, 'When is he coming home?'?"
Dana tears up, explaining that she has to give up Bailey. She has a debilitating allergy to dogs.
"Losing Bailey is going to be like losing John again," she says.
"John was my ballast. We were married 25 years. John adopted Bailey two years ago. She's a tangible reminder."
When Bailey went everywhere with John, it gave her breathing space. Even at that, she spent a week in bed last winter because of the allergy.
"I was never able to bond with dogs because of my allergy. I had wanted a poodle because they are nonallergenic. But poodles weren't John's style."
But she, too, fell in love with Bailey even though she can't interact with her or be around her much.
Besides the allergies, she now has to work several jobs and must be away.
"It's just not fair to Bailey," Dana says. Her words trail off, and she musters a tearful whisper. "I'm going to miss her."
The Teller County Regional Animal Shelter is pre-screening those who might want to adopt Bailey.
Manager Mary Steinbeiser explains that Bailey isn't the dog for everyone. She is protective of turf and family, a Rottweiler trait. She is particular about other dogs, doesn't particularly like cats and at 120 pounds is too large for kids younger than 10. "She needs a strong leader and structured setting.
"She is sweet and will make a very loyal companion," Steinbeiser says.
Bailey definitely can be a silly girl, Dana says. "She squeals, barks and has a big vocabulary."
She loves to play ball by herself. "She rolls a ball down the steep hill and runs ahead and catches it before it gets to the bottom. Then does it all over again."
And, yes, she still loves to go for rides in the car.
Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371