Bailey, a white German shepherd, and best friend to Loki the Wolfdog, of Instagram fame, arrives at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Monday, Oct. 28 for surgery to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).
Bailey and Loki have become social media celebrities, with more than two million fans who follow their adventures with owners, Kelly Lund and Ally Coucke. Lund’s book, Wild Together: My Adventures with Loki the Wolfdog, explores the couple’s deep bond with the dogs as they ski the backcountry, hike in the mountains, and take road trips across the country. Although Bailey’s surgery means six months of resting, physical therapy, and recovery, “this boy is going to run on the Pacific coast again,” says Coucke.
Bailey seems anxious on arrival to the hospital, like he knows something is about to happen. He gets x-rays and bloodwork to prepare for his procedure the following morning.
“Every time we walk into this building, he is so anxious and wound up,” says Coucke. Bailey was treated with surgery for insulinoma in July 2018. “He had a hard long battle with cancer and we fought it in these walls, with these people, who saved his life.”
After a tearful “see you later,” Lund, Coucke, and Loki leave the hospital with one less member of the family, for the time being. “We walked out the double doors, into single digits, with only one dog,” Coucke says. “We loaded him [Loki] up, and sat in the truck crying for a bit, instantly feeling the other’s absence.”
Bailey, now 11, has been with Coucke since puppyhood, together for adventures across the country and hospital visits. “If you’ve ever met my Bailey, you know that he is a random act of kindness, a halfway smile through the tears, he is a lighthouse in the storm,” says Coucke. “Still today, he is trying to take care of me.”
After Dr. Colin Taylor’s three-hour surgery to repair his torn ligaments and damaged meniscus, Bailey is awake and ready to see his family. Bailey also had an ultrasound for his quarterly oncology scan, which came back clear. “I just want to say thank you for treating my boy so well,” Coucke tells the veterinary team.
Reunited and ready to run (after some rest)
“Loki and Bailey will be quite a sight when they are reunited,” says Coucke. “It always kills me.” After a long 27 hours of separation, Bailey and Loki are reunited with each other. Loki was first to greet Bailey as he made his way into the room.
Bailey got to go back to his home outside of Denver, CO the afternoon of Oct. 30, alongside his best friend, Loki. Bailey will be resting, doing physical therapy, and small amounts of walking over the next six months. Whether running or resting, Bailey and Loki do it together. On social media, Bailey may be seen as a fun and adventurous dog, but he is far more than that, says Coucke. Bailey is a dog that embraces connection with Loki and his people. “You do not have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body,” she tells Bailey.
“He licks away tears, he wags his tail when I’m laughing and is a friend in the silence,” says Coucke. Bailey is far more than just a celebri-dog, he is a best friend.
Photos by Kellen Bakovich/CVMBS