Marcia Kennedy wants her Ahwatukee neighbors to know that BABEE is alive, well – and safe in the home it took her two years to make for him.
Back in 2013, the roaming black Labrador created something of a stir in neighborhoods around Desert Foothills Parkway because it seemed to be a wild, but healthy, animal that roamed around with no place to call home.
She’d see him in the morning as she went for walks and eventually started bringing him bones, then started feeding him treats from her hand. And she named him with the acronym BABEE – for “big adorable boy, elusive, yet engaging.”
Kennedy said the dog “just had my heart.”
For two more years, the dog was happy to just have her treats. He’d run away whenever he saw a leash, even though he eventually began letting her pet him.
“If I didn’t see him, I’d go out a little earlier,” Kennedy said. “I was arranging my schedule around this dog thinking ‘My friends must think I’m crazy.’”
BABEE seemed to enjoy seeing Kennedy as much as she enjoyed seeing him. Each morning he began following her until, eventually, they were walking together through the desert, and he was letting her pet him.
She told AFN five years ago, “He has taken me places far out that I as a walker out on the street always thought I wanted to go up there, but it was kind of scary because I’m by myself. He is just so courageous. I swear that dog owns this entire Foothills area. Sometimes I would lead, sometimes he would lead.”
Back then, she lived in a complex where the HOA required a leash on all dogs in the neighborhood. Kennedy called the Humane Society for help to catch him so that she could adopt him, but he always got away, and Kennedy decided he’d be miserable inside a home.
“I did get him on a leash once,” she said. “He let me put a collar on him. After I got the collar on him, I coaxed him inside with treats... When I got the leash on him he started going in circles. He climbed in the bathtub. He went in my bedroom and into my closet and climbed onto boxes, trying to get away. He finally just curled up in a little ball. This poor dog was terrified. I thought, if I can’t get the leash on him and take him for a walk and bring him back like a normal dog, I’ve got to let him go.”
But Kennedy couldn’t.
And after two years of befriending him, BABEE finally befriended her completely.
Kennedy has moved to an area around 48th Street and Elliot Road – and she has a new boarder living with her and her two cats.
BABEE is now part of her family.
“The cats love him,” she said. “He’s doubled in weight, and he just loves being here.”
BABEE even has a yard to soak up some fresh air, but he’s apparently given up on his wanderlust.
But Kennedy wanted Ahwatukee residents to know what happened to him because he had become such an object of their curiosity.
“I had so many people stop me as BABEE and I were walking – almost daily,” Kennedy said. “The conversation always went like this: ‘Is THAT your dog? I had a three-liner to say to them so I didn’t get too long winded. It never failed, their response back would always start with, ‘That dog was in my neighborhood.’ or ‘that dog was in the lake.’”
She also wanted to thank everyone for their kindness toward BABEE when he was paw-loose and fancy free – “especially the guy who gave me the $20 for food for him. He’s the one who said his wife used to try to get him to come in to their house.”
“I have so many stories about him, and I know that other people do as well and may want to share them,” said Kennedy, hoping people will; email the dog at email@example.com.
“This is truly a great Hallmark movie,” added Kennedy, who said she’s written a children’s book about him titled, “It’s NOT what you THOUGHT, Babee!”
“It’s about how he hears things that sound like gunshots (from his abandoned days living in the Foothills), and he gets terrified and beelines for home if we are on a walk. I tell him, ‘It’s not what you thought, Babee.’ And then the story tells/shows what the sound really was, and now how he doesn’t panic when he hears that sound after a while – things like a trash can lid slamming, a golf ball being hit.”
She’s hoping to connect with an illustrator so she can get the book published – and help kids who are “afraid of things that go bump in the night.”
Kennedy also thinks that there was a reason it took BABEE so long to be adopted by her.
“Labs are so loyal,” she said. “He kept looking for his original owner to come back. That’s why it took so long for him to trade his loyalty from his original family to me. I simply respected his loyalty and find it so endearing that I am now the one he gives his loyalty to.”