After three stressful weeks looking for their white Labrador Bailey, Sarah and James Nicol were informed this past weekend that he had been found in a grave near Juniper Place.
The Nicols’ yard is fenced and four-and-a-half-year-old Bailey would sometimes sleep on their porch, which is where the family saw him last on May 15. The following morning when Sarah was planning to take him for a hike, he was gone.
The Nicols think his disappearance must have been sometime between 8:30 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 a.m. Monday, as the Purolator delivery person didn’t see Bailey when they stopped by at that hour.
Bailey’s disappearance was “very unusual and out of character,” James said, as he never strayed further than a 300-foot radius from the property.
The Nicols think Bailey might have been hit by a vehicle somewhere on their road.
Another possibility is that Bailey was shot. James said he found a small hole in Bailey’s upper quarter, where a person would shoot a deer when hunting, yet there was no other noticeable trauma to Bailey’s body.
Some people commenting on social media posts about Bailey being found have stated his death may have to do with farming. The Nicols say this is highly unlikely as Bailey hadn’t run away before and wasn’t interested in chasing livestock, even with sheep living near their home.
While they do not yet know how their dog’s life ended, James explained that after his death someone went to a lot of trouble to bury him. Bailey was found on a private property at Juniper Place near Trustees Trail. James walked with an RCMP officer about a quarter of a kilometre in from the road to get where Bailey was buried. The grave was “two and a half, almost three feet deep, by about two and a half feet across,” which James estimated would have taken at least 30 minutes to dig, and covered in rocks.
“Even the officer couldn’t quite get his head around it . . . we both couldn’t realize how much trouble this person went through to hide this animal.”
The Nicols are hoping whoever knows what happened to Bailey will come forward. If he was hit by a driver, Sarah said, “We understand it was a mistake. If they’re scared, let us know and there’d be no hurt feelings.”
They are also appealing to anyone who uses security cameras on Rainbow Road between Pallot Way and Juniper Place and up Juniper to the Trustees Trail trailhead to check footage between the night of Sunday, May 15 and the following morning. If they see something that might be helpful they are asked to call the Salt Spring RCMP detachment at 250-537-5555.
Bailey’s death has brought some apprehension and fear, the Nicols said, and has prompted them to get cameras installed in their home and plans to reinforce their gates.
Their dog has now been reburied, James said, which brought some relief to “at least have him home again.” Sarah said she’s grateful for community members who helped look for Bailey, who she described as a very friendly and goofy dog.
“The nicest dog you’ve ever met,” James added, recalling all of the random islanders who knew him and wanted to spend time with him.
Bailey would always have a piece of firewood from the pile at their home in his mouth, which he’d transport to friends’ homes.
“He liked holding something in his mouth when he greeted you,” James said. “And just gave the biggest, biggest hugs,” Sarah added. “Not a mean bone in his body.”
The days before Bailey’s disappearance were spent with dog friends, hiking up Mount Erskine and swimming at the beach.
“He had a good last weekend,” Sarah said.