Friday, July 1, 2016

Nick's Notes 7.1.2016--Bailey, Cassie and Chance are back together at Abbington Green

Bailey, Cassie and Chance are back together at Abbington Green

When you walk up to the front porch of the Inn, you can't help but notice the 3 dog statues in the front yard: a St. Bernard fountain, a Boxer and a Golden Retriever. These statues represent my 3 dogs Bailey, Cassie and Chance.

Yes, we had 3 large dogs at the same time, and I loved every minute of it. Finding statues that look like them was important for me to have displayed here at Abbington Green.

There is so much that I want to share with you about them. I got Bailey, my St. Bernard, as a puppy from a breeder in Illinois.
I wanted her to be a Show Dog, and she actually won 2nd Place in the only competition I entered her in. Bailey developed a limp in her front paw and could no longer be shown. It was a birth defect, and surgery did not work to fix it.  I learned about a Pet Therapy Program at the Broward County Humane Society where you could take your dog to schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

Bailey passed the test on her first try, and on Saturdays we would visit a hospice in Boca Raton, Florida, visiting mainly cancer and Alzheimer patients. Bailey was amazing at it! Based on her height, patients could easily reach her without bending over or getting out of bed.

I have to say, this was the most rewarding and fulfilling thing that I have done in my life. Bailey touched many lives and was an exceptional Therapy Dog. Even when a patient went into a coma, she would lay her head on their shoulder in bed as if she was still communicating with them.
Cassie, my Boxer, was a gift for my 40th birthday. She was so sweet and tiny compared to my big, 155lb. Bailey.
Bailey took her under her paw immediately. even teaching Cassie how to be house broken. I remember one of the first days Cassie had an accident in the house. Bailey pushed Cassie to the sliding glass door to go out.  Their bond with each other and us grew so strong.  Eventually, Cassie started to climb on top of Bailey and sleep on top of her...and Bailey let her.
When Bailey started to get too old and it was harder for her to walk so much at the nursing home, Cassie became a Certified Pet Therapy Dog and took over where Bailey left off.  Both Bailey and Cassie knew when we would say..."Let's go visit your friends"...that it was time to put on their green vest that said "I love working for hugs and kisses", and head over to the nursing home.
When Cassie was 3 and Bailey was 6, Cousin Chance, a Golden Retriever, stayed over for a visit while good friends went away on vacation.  They were all 3 instant friends, with Bailey taking on the "Big Alpha" Dog role, in charge.
A few months later, Chance joined our family as a permanent member. You certainly get a lot of stares when you walk 3 big dogs down the street! Chance was never the smartest of the 3, but he was loyal and loving.
I lost my "Bailey Girl" in December of 2011. It was such a hard loss for me. Bailey had been there for me during some difficult times in my life and she had become my personal Therapy Dog too. She always knew how to cheer me up. She was twelve years old. That is a long life for a St. Bernard, as most pass away at 8-10 years old.
I found a website that creates Andy Warhol-like photo prints on canvas and I decided to have three made for Bailey, Cassie, and Chance.

In February of 2012, I found Amber, a 4 month old mixed breed puppy, on the highway.  She reminded me of 'Scrappy Doo' with her big head and her small body.

We tried to find who she belonged to, but had no luck and after a week at the house, Amber, Cassie and Chance had become best friends.  I think that it helped them get over the loss of Bailey too. Cassie even tried to sit on Chance like she did with Bailey, but he would have no part of it.  Amber brought the puppy out in both of them and they loved playing with her.

I always say that things happen for a reason. In April 2012, we had to put both Cassie and Chance down, 10 days apart from one another.  First Cassie developed a brain tumor and went blind. She started having seizures.  Then we found out that Chance had developed stomach cancer. Sadly, we lost them both very quickly.

Amber was there to support us and needed our love too. She was still only 6 months old, so full of energy and she needed to play. She helped give us the strength to move on. Amber has grown into a beautiful dog..."Lady Amber Abbington"... as guests and our team refer to her.
She will be my next Therapy Dog, and our goal is to be out visiting nursing homes here in Asheville as soon as she is ready to be trained and passes her test.

I think of Bailey, Cassie, and Chance often and love having the statues of them in the front yard at Abbington Green. I hope that you will too.

All the best,



  1. Great story Nick! I had the pleasure of meeting all of your dogs that you speak of in this blog and I have to agree, they were very special and were lucky to have such great dads such as you and Steve. They are missed!