In true Julie McCoy fashion, this girl makes sure I mix and mingle each and every day. Sick, grumpy, tired—no matter. I will be mixing it up with humanity at large, thanks to her.
In case you’ve not met Julie McCoy, aka Bailey, a brief history. And in case you don’t know who Julie McCoy is, she was a character on the popular US TV show in the 1970s and ‘80s, “The Love Boat”. She was the dimpled, cheery, all-American cruise director who fixed up lonely singles with their perfect match, helped the elderly discover new youth and bubbled her way through each episode. Never mind that it has since come to light that she developed a cocaine addiction while working on the show, which may have accounted for a teensy percentage of that bubbling. But I digress.
Back to Bailey. Who does not, I assure you, do cocaine. Ever. She knows that is against house rules.
Bailey is the dog we rescued a couple of Christmases ago. Since then, she has rescued my boys and me as much as we’ve rescued her. Truly. She came on the heels of my divorce and I feel closer to her than to some of my human friends. She gets me. And I get her. Neuroses and all.
I used to know my neighbors. Really. I’d see them at block parties and chat ever so briefly as I worked in the yard.
I thought I knew them.
Bailey changed that.
Now, I know so much more.
The “why” is simple. We cannot leave the house without being accosted by humanity in all forms. The cheeky little cuties next door, still in single digits, stop their baseball game to run over and hug Bailey. Delighted shouts of “Baiwee” ring through the air, as if she is some rock star come to town.
They tell her to sit and bring her sticks galore to chew. Proclamations of love, particularly from the female cutie in her tutu, abound. Bailey wags and acquiesces to their love, happy to be amongst tiny humans.
She drags me down the driveway of our older neighbors. It is an obligatory stop in which she checks their yard for fox scent, expects a butt scratch from Don, contemplates digging up Marilyn’s newly planted flowers. They smile and shower her with attention. She gives me the eye as if to say, “See? Peeps. Yep. I’ve got them.”
As we trot down the street, she gives some a full body wag, stopping to sniff and greet. It is then that I find out the fox had babies under a neighbor’s deck. That the house down the street sold. Who is in the hospital, whose grandkids are doing what, where the next vacation is planned.
At the end of our walk, I let her stay outside for a bit to cool down. It is then that her elderly buddy from next door sneaks her some treats. Every time the vet tells me she cannot gain more weight, I am stymied, given the healthy diet I feed her and the exercise she gets. But then I remember Wayne through the back window, feeding her at least half a dozen large milkbones. His dog died years ago and Bailey seems to fill a small hole in his heart. He is a softie, even though he’d rather no one know it.
And it is not just old friends we see. That was not enough for Ms. Bailey. We had to expand our horizons.
We’ve met new friends.
As Bailey befriended Eloise, the purebred a block over, I befriended her owner, Mary Ellen. Over coffee, Mary Ellen regaled me with tales of her time as a temp for Roone Arledge (who liked to call her “Girl” and showed her how to make his 4 p.m. white wine spritzer while shuffling around the office in his slippers). Her stories made me break into peals of laughter. She is Mary Tyler Moore without the TV show.
She told me of her long-distance marriage, her struggles with ageism in a youth-oriented marketing culture, her house in Cape Cod.
I just love seeing Mary Ellen. And would never have known her if not for Bailey’s unbridled enthusiasm.
Ed is Ginger’s owner. He and I exchange pleasantries about his travels, our lawns, his grandkids’ visits. He gives me a friendly honk of the horn whenever he drives by and I’m in the yard. Bailey and Ginger love to pounce and play while we talk. And I love to listen to Ed’s southern drawl. He and his wife are the type of people who will always have a glass of lemonade or sweet tea at the ready for a good convo on the porch.
I’ve met wonderful people at the vet, the boarder’s, and even turnpike rest stops. (That last one is kind of dicey but Bailey seems to be a good judge of character. Plus, she is fierce. No shady characters need apply. I mean, just look what she is doing to Darth Vader in the photo. “Can I eat him, Mom? Please?” She has us covered.)
I have always been a chatter, but Bailey has brought a richness to my life. I would not walk around the neighborhood without her prompting. And with the walking comes mingling.
I can see why lonely people get dogs. Not only is a dog company but your fellow human beings can’t resist puppy dog eyes, a wagging tail.
And sometimes they also cannot resist the very comforting, connecting human conversation that comes as a fringe benefit.
Courtesy of their furry cruise director.
We should all be so lucky.
This is Mrs. Baiwee, signing out for a walk around the neighborhood. There is work to be done, people.