NICHOLASVILLE — Michael Smith, the Jessamine County father whose 3-day-old son was snatched from a crib by the family's wolf-hybrid dog last summer, has written a book about the ordeal.
A spokesman for AuthorHouse, a Bloomington, Ind., company that specializes in self-publishing, says Could It Happen to You?: Baby A.J.'s Story of Being Taken From His Crib by the Family Dog Dakota will be published in late May.
"I think it's going to answer a lot of questions about who we are," said Michael Smith.
Michael and his wife, Chrissie, became the subject of nationwide TV coverage and news articles after their family dog snatched Alexander James "A.J." Smith from his crib July 20.
Dakota, the female wolf hybrid that had a habit of taking objects from the house, carried the baby outside in her mouth. The dog eventually set A.J. down in woods behind the Smiths' house north of Nicholasville.
A.J. suffered a cracked skull, cracked ribs, a collapsed lung and a partially collapsed lung. After several days at University of Kentucky Hospital, he returned home.
Today A.J. is a smiling, giggling 8-month old who is quite mobile in a baby walker. A scar on the back of his head is only visible upon close inspection of his scalp. Another scar on his left cheek reveals itself as a pink mark when the boy laughs.
"He's a healthy little boy. He's doing great." Chrissie Smith said.
When Michael Smith told his wife he wanted to write the book, her first reaction was, "No, you don't."
But the more she thought about it, Chrissie Smith, who prefers non-fiction books to fiction, said she thought, "Why not?"
"Did we want to stir it all up again? I think the amount of time that has passed since the accident has let us heal or absorb it," Michael Smith said.
He said the book will give a behind-the-scenes narrative of the ordeal that included his interviews with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Good Morning America and Deborah Norville on Inside Edition.
Michael Smith, who has two sons from a previous marriage, says the book will clear up any notion that he's an unfit parent.
"Nobody knows us. If you get through the book, you know us," he said. "It was an accident. Hopefully the book will clear up some of that."
Smith has said the incident might not have happened had he been able to fully prepare the house for the baby's arrival. A.J. was born three weeks early and came home before Smith had bought a baby monitor, latches and other items that might have prevented the dog from getting past an inadvertently unlocked door.
The Smiths were investigated for child neglect, but a Jessamine County grand jury found no criminal intent. Michael Smith said he reveals in the book that he and his wife were served a summons for neglect only after he raised the possibility during an August news conference of having Dakota return home from an animal shelter. The charges were dropped after they gave up the dog, he said.
Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goettl and Vikki Franklin, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, declined comment.
On Wednesday, Smith explained why he had the change of heart: "We'd had this dog for four years, since she was 6 weeks old. She was my wife's dog, and we loved her to pieces. After we knew A.J. was going to be OK and we knew everything was going to be safe, we just wanted back our original family like we had it. My wife was tormented with the process of giving her up."
The Smiths still have two dogs, Nikita, sister to Dakota, and Maggie, a black Labrador.
As for Dakota, the Smiths saw her in December at the unidentified place where she now lives. It was the first time they'd seen her since she was surrendered in September. The Smiths are not allowed to say where Dakota is under the terms of the release signing her over to her new home.
"She came right up to me. It was very emotional," Michael Smith said. "But we left very happy because she's in a very, very good place."
"It put you at ease knowing that she is really cared for," Chrissie Smith said.