My Dog Got Me in National Geographic

Yep, I’m a published photographer. Yep, the picture on the left of my dog Bailey is forever posted on the National Geographic WILD website. Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you wrangle back your jealousy.
*Buffs fingernails on shirt. Waits patiently.*
Seriously, I’ve got my own goat-dog and a stroke of luck to thank for it. Here’s what happened:
My wife and I have two amazing dogs. They’re four-year-old brothers from the same litter of half-Yellow Lab and half-Golden Retriever. Cody (a.k.a The Code or Code-a-licious) got all the loving, dumb beauty of the Golden. Bailey (or Bail-lickers to his friends) wound up with the Lab. Together, they are our Red Devils. I love them both in their own unique way, but this post is specifically about Bailey.
For those of you who are fortunate to know a Lab (or read Donna’s post or have seen one across the park) understand they are both brilliant and tragically stupid all at the same time. Bailey heels better than most heelers out there. He can pick out certain toys by name. Also, I’ve seen him stare, genuinely surprised, at his own butt after farting.
All of these qualities are endearing . However, he does have once vice I will forever battle: rock eating.
Yep, Bailey loves minerals. Sometimes I picture him like Bubba naming off all the different types. Granite rocks, marble rocks, pumice rocks. You’ve got your sedimentary rocks and your river rock and your… Any time he’s left alone with a stone big enough to go in his mouth…well, it goes in his mouth.
I’ve caught him countless times “chewing” away on one. I pull it from his mouth, yelling and pointing. He cowers and, believe me, never touches THAT rock again. We even keep him in a dog run without bite-size mineral snacks, but it wasn’t always that way - they used to do their business on a bed of the yummy things.
A couple year ago, Bailey woke up sick. Really sick. Poor pup couldn’t stomach water. Within seconds of entering the exam room, the vet touched – actually, "grazed" is a better word – his stomach with a single pinkie.
“I’m going to get an x-ray,” she said as she whisked Bailey out of the room.
A few worried minutes later, they charged back in. She shoved an x-ray film on the light board. “Count ‘em!” She said.

And I did.
Seven, silver-dollar sized rocks had passed from his small intestine to his large and were on the way out. Which was lucky for him, otherwise, she’d need to do a “looksy surgery” (That’s right, dogs *cough, Labs, cough* eat enough stupid stuff to warrant a cute name for the exploratory procedure.).
“And guess what?” The vet smiled. “You’ll get to count them on the way out too.”
And I did.
(Yes, it was as glamorous as it sounds, thanks for asking.)
Needless to say, I shoveled out every last rock from their dog run.
Cut a few months ahead. I’m seated next to a new writer friend at the 2010 international SCBWI conference in NYC and I told her this story. She loved it.
Cut another several months ahead. Turns out that same friend works for and she needed to write a short article about the crazy stuff dogs eat. And what story did she want? And who’s picture?
On May 4th, 2010 Bailey, his intestines, and my picture at the beach went national. Click here to see it.
Now thanks to Jodi Kendall (check out her website) and Bailey’s bad habit, I’ve got a picture published on AND I’m quoted on it talking about poop.
*Buffs nails again. Smiles smugly.*


Ah, this is why I love SCBWI conferences! Bret, it was great meeting you and hearing the story first-hand, and so cool how it all came together that I'd need that story a few short months later to promote the television series MY DOG ATE WHAT? I hope Bailey is doing well and following a nice, standard doggie diet :)

All the pet stories this week are KILLING me! Stop! Stop! Wonderful story. Except hope the rock eating has let up? Right. Probably never. We have a lab, too. We just trashed our gazebo that he trashed by running into it so many times as he lunged for his ball, even though we didn't throw the ball near the gazebo...

This is too good. Thanks for the laugh. And also, sorry. I know it's a source of stress sometimes, too.

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Nice! Good dog, Bailey....put the mouse down and back away from the rocks....

I had a Goldie, named Maia. Maia LOVED rocks, and as luck would have it, she became adopted by a family with a huge rock garden instead of a lawn, so I always had to watch her. If she came through the back door and darted full speed into the house, I knew she had a rock or two in her mouth. FYI, she passed on, but not because of rocks. Maybe Goldies have an affinity for rocks? My pug could care less!

My dad had a golden who collected rocks (but never swallowed any). We thought it was because my dad's a geologist!

Thanks for another great post, Bret!

Great story! I had a dog named Bailey growing up, a female black lab. She was so wonderful...and she'd do stupid stuff too. Once she knocked her head on a trailer hitch because she wasn't watching where she was going. Great dog, though.

That's such a fantastic story. I feel I should read it aloud to my lovable mutt as a cautionary tale. Congratulations on getting into National Geographic.

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