Four years ago this Christmas, Bayden became a member of the Cullins family. The male boxer was chosen in part to honor Spc. Devin Cullins and Jessica Cullins’ grandfather, who passed away in 2007. Dec. 23 was their grandfather’s birthday, and they wanted to make it a happy occasion so close to Christmas, instead of another sad one, Jessica Cullins said.
But from Saturday until early Thursday morning, Bayden had been missing.
The 4-year-old, 70-pound, fawn-colored dog loosened a backyard fence board, wriggled out of a 1-foot-by-1-foot hole and ran away from Jessica Cullins’ Galt home on Saturday, much to the disappointment of her brother, a soldier in the U.S. Army, who had left the dog behind when he was stationed in Texas.
The family created posters, reached out to social media, and contacted local veterinarians and shelters in Galt and surrounding areas. Although Bayden was microchipped and wearing a collar with tags when he went missing, the boxer hadn’t turned up.
It wasn’t until Jessica Cullins placed an advertisement in the Galt newspaper that ranchers about 3 1/2 miles from her home realized the dog they had been feeding was someone’s pet.
Jessica Cullins was reunited with Bayden in a field at around 1 a.m. Thursday; she and her aunt had been staked out in the field since Wednesday evening. They had walked the property, calling Bayden’s name and squeezing his favorite squeaky toy, but retreated to the car with the windows rolled down.
“We decided we weren’t going to leave the field without him,” Jessica Cullins said Thursday.
Suddenly, they heard the dog’s nasally breathing, and from 10 to 15 feet away could see his tail begin to wag upon hearing his caretaker’s voice.
“He ran to the car, jumped in and wouldn’t get off my lap,” Jessica Cullins said.
She quickly called her mother, who then called her brother although it was 3 a.m. in Texas.
“He was stunned, but still happy,” she said.
As for the good Samaritans? Ron and Judy Jacobsen declined the reward the Cullins had advertised, so it will instead be donated to local animals shelters.
Devin Cullins had been heartbroken in Texas knowing his dog wasn’t home, Jessica Cullins said.
“He was planning to come home this Christmas, if not deployed, and he always looks forward to seeing Bayden,” Jessica Cullins said. “He was absolutely terrified his dog wasn’t going to be home for Christmas.”
Her 23-year-old brother entered the U.S. Army in Feb. 2011 and is in the process of filing paperwork to re-enlist. He works as a construction equipment mechanic on standby for an emergency deployment to Afghanistan.
“Devin made a very difficult decision to enter the Army,” Jessica Cullins said. “He did not want to leave his beloved dog at home because he knew the Army would not allow him to have a dog in the barracks. But he felt a strong sense of urgency to serve our country and he has a real sense of pride and duty in the Army.”
The dog is an important member of their extended family; their aunt kept Bayden for the first two years, but he was a bit too much for her to keep up with.
“Bayden is a goofball, but we all think that for some reason Devin and Bayden were meant to be,” his sister said. “They have so many mannerisms in common. Strange for a human and a dog, but they do!”
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.