Next month, a UK judge will be asked to settle a highly unusual tug-of-love. At the center of the legal wrangle is not a child but an 18-month-old mini Dachshund who has caused two friends to fall out.
Bailey was given away by his owner, Gary Rowlinson, in a fit of guilt after it bit his granddaughter.
Within 24 hours, however, Rowlinson realized he had made a rash decision and asked his friend, Steven Spencer, who was looking after Bailey, to give the animal back.
Despite having taken custody of the dog only a few hours previously, Spencer had grown attached to it and refused to hand over the pet.
Rowlinson begged, pleaded and even offered a £1,000 incentive but Spencer stood firm.
Now the pair will come face to face in the courtroom on June 2 as they ask a judge to decide with whom the dog should live.
Rowlinson, 55, said: “Bailey is a great dog. We can’t live without him. We fell in love with him the moment we saw him. Bailey is one of the family. We’d be devastated if we didn’t get him back.”
Rowlinson and his wife Moira bought Bailey for £700 as a puppy but in February the animal bit their two-year-old granddaughter, Lola, who was visiting them at their home.
“Normally, he is very playful but he is very protective of my wife and when my granddaughter came running up to her Bailey didn’t realize what she was doing and bit her,” said Rowlinson.
Upset and guilty, he gave Bailey to Spencer, 26. Within 24 hours, he asked for his dog back.
Rowlinson said: “I miss him so much and love him. I will do anything to get him back. I’m going to court — if I lose and there are incredible costs I’ll have to bear them. But I’m willing to take that chance. I’ll do anything to get him back. He means the world to me. I’ve had the worst couple of months of my entire life.”
Mrs. Rowlinson, 56, added: “Our children have grown up so Bailey is like a child to us.”
For his part, Spencer has refused to answer any questions as to why he would not return Bailey to the Rowlinsons.