How one man’s canine companion renews his vigor for life
Del Schwab has had three horses and four other Irish Setters in his lifetime, but none of them rival Bailey — a rich red-brown coated beauty from Akron, Ohio.
The 79-year-old Payne, Ohio, resident has lived quite the life. After spending three years in Germany with the U.S. Airforce, where his oldest daughter was born, Schwab never stopped moving. He traveled Europe, had two more children, and spent 35 years trail riding with horses through the Canadian Rockies, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and Idaho (just to name a few). After moving from Oklahoma onto Paulding Putnam Electric lines in 1972, he retired in 2001 to enjoy his eight grandchildren and five great-grandkids. Motorcycle rides with his wife, Karen, were one of his many passions.
Four years ago, life swirled into a dark gray haze when Karen passed away. The loneliness was nearly unbearable. But Schwab still had Bailey, and slowly a transition began taking place.
“Karen never wanted Bailey to ride in my motorcycle sidecar, but it turns out Bailey never needed any training,” Schwab recalls. “She was just a good girl and jumped right in. She’s never made a mess, and she always wears her safety goggles.”
Now, Schwab and Bailey can be found together every morning at their favorite coffee shop, Genesis House in Antwerp, where they come roaring in on motorcyle and sidecar — long, shaggy ears and tongue flapping in the wind — into their curbside spot, ready for a non-fat mocha with an extra shot of espresso.
“It’s a perfect day every day,” Schwab says. “Bailey is my life. I read a book and Bailey watches squirrels. The simple life is the life for us.”
The word ‘sweet’ is an understatement when trying to describe the 5-year-old tail-wagger Schwab calls his “best bud.” A morning with the duo is full of curious wet sniffs and patient stares through windows from Bailey, returned by moments of long, tender, and thoughtful admiration from Schwab.
Wanting to give back to the species that has given him so much joy, Schwab serves as vice president for Friends of the Paulding County Dog Kennel, where he considers himself their “gopher” by delivering dogs for spaying and neutering appointments.
“I don’t know if there’s anything particularly special about me,” Schwab says. “This story is about Bailey. We do the good we can. I think that’s why I’ve always gotten along well with animals. They can sense if you’re going to be kind.”
In a world that can often feel lonely, Schwab urges people to consider sharing their lives with animals. His advice?
“You really ought to get a dog. It makes a big difference. I don’t know what I’d do without Bailey.”
The Genesis House, 204 N. Main St. in Antwerp, is open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Named a 2018 “Diamond of NW Ohio” business, they sell Epic Organics products, soy candles, and books from local authors like George L. Forrest. Biscotti and muffins are available while sipping espresso drinks, frappes, and teas with decadent flavors like salted caramel English toffee and cream de menthe.