For a 13-year-old handicapped dog, Bailey makes some humans look like slugs.
The yellow Labrador won two top national hunting titles as well as several state hunting events despite a terrible accident years ago that damaged his spine and left him with a peculiar walk.Now Bailey is turning his talents to music to raise funds for homeless animals.
He will be a "soloist" with the Murray Concert Band Saturday. His act? Barking along with "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" which is one of the numbers that will be performed at the Animalia Concert held to raise money for the Society for the Protection of Homeless Animals.
Admission is free, but donations to the society are welcome. It will be held at 7 p.m. in the Murray High School Auditorium.
Bailey's owner, Lynn Morrison of Woods Cross, said the aging dog is slowing down a bit but is still alert and will enjoy being in the limelight.
"If there are people around, he expects that he should be there," said Morrison, a self-employed roofer who boards pets and helps place homeless animals.
At the concert, a tuxedo-clad Bailey is supposed to bark on command on stage while Morrison signals from the front row. "For 13 years, he's been hearing the command `Quiet.' For the last few months he's been learning `Bark,' " Morrison said. "Sometimes he sings a little freelance and adds something."
The dog retired from competition two years ago after he was named Top Dog with the Wasatch Hunting Retriever Club in 1991, the first yellow Lab to get that honor. He also won two top titles at the American Kennel Club's Master National Retriever Championships.
All this despite a June 1990 accident that nearly killed him. Morrison was training Bailey, who had won nine straight local competitions, to prepare him for his 10th. If he won, Bailey would be named Top Dog and that would qualify him for the national competition.
But Bailey somehow wandered onto Redwood Road and was hit by a van operated by a driver who refused to give the dog a ride to a veterinary hospital and told a weeping Morrison to just forget Bailey because he was going to die anyway.
Morrison flagged down somebody more compassionate who gave them a ride. Bailey suffered a concussion, was in a coma, had a dislocated backbone and a damaged spinal cord that ultimately left his hind legs partially paralyzed.
Morrison painstakingly nursed him back to health, doing everything from massaging the dog's joints to spoon-feeding him.
Bailey pulled through because "he has a big heart," Morrison said.
The dog got his 10th Top Dog title the following year and went on to nail the two national victories.
Since he retired, Bailey has become a "certified pet therapist" who cheers up handicapped children at hospitals whenever he's invited.
"We don't get asked very much anymore, but he loves to go and perform for people," Morrison said. "I'd like to say that he does it for the kids, but it does as much for him as the kids."