Written by, and photography by Shay Gray
In 2019, I was living and working in Vietnam. I needed a companion and decided to look for a puppy. In Vietnam, there are no rescue organisations or shelters. Dogs simply roam the streets. A local friend of mine told me to go to this specific street in the city to find a puppy, so I thought I’d check it out. This was an animal street: dogs, cats and birds stuffed into tiny cages sold for anything – pets, meat, and more. Not a place for the faint-hearted, and even more so an animal lover!
I walked into the first shop and all the pups were so sick they didn’t even acknowledge me walking in. I walked around the cage and I saw Baylee. She was the only pup that sat up and looked at me, and I knew she was to be mine.
I took her home and gave her a bath and some water (she was so thirsty!). She had a bladder infection from what I’m guessing was having to hold in her pee in order to avoid abuse (these pups were treated terribly and thrown around as if they were just items).
After two days, she started to cough. I hadn’t been paid yet, so we had to wait two days for the vet. The vet diagnosed her with kennel cough, gave her an injection, and made an appointment for two days later to check on her. A day after that appointment, she started pooping blood and became very lethargic and stopped eating. We were still giving her puppy milk as she’d been taken from her mom very, very young. The vet did the tests and they came back positive for canine distemper. That’s when things turned very hard for us.
After two weeks of intense treatments, thousands of Rands and many sleepless nights, she pushed through. For a puppy diagnosed with distemper at approximately seven weeks old, Baylee had about a five per cent survival rate. But she survived. I absolutely believe she survived because she wanted to, and she fought for it. She’s known as the miracle puppy at that vet.
Eight months later, I came home with Baylee to South Africa. This week she celebrated her third birthday. Baylee has extreme anxiety issues but is the most incredible, loving and crazy dog I’ve ever owned. She now has three siblings and a big garden with many people who love her. She’s my first dog and my heart dog.
She’s a fighter!