‘I’m Ready To Go Home’: How Curt Schilling’s Dogs & Tennessee Farm Rescued The World Series Hero

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At 55 years old, retired, and with his kids grown, Curt Schilling is a man who owns a farm in Tennessee where rescue animals and dogs have become his teammates in life. Those teammates have put him through one helluva summer, but Curt would have it no other way.

As Schilling tells the story, around a year ago after he and his wife Shonda moved to Fairview, TN, they started losing rescue animals on his farm. Chickens were being taken out. A coyote killed a llama. That’s when Curt decided it was time to get working dogs to protect the animals from intruders.

Suddenly the Schilling family had added two Great Pyrenees (Arya and Sansa) and two mixed-breed livestock-protecting machines (Hodor and Mance). The Schilling farm got into a groove and the chicken murders stopped. The bodyguards were performing incredibly well on a farm where rescue llamas, alpacas, goats, turkeys, ducks, and geese call home.

OutKick illustration / Getty Images

“If I’m having any kind of off time or day, I’m down in the barn just watching because the society is absolute … if we lived like that there wouldn’t be problems on earth. They all know who they are, what they are, where they belong,” Schilling explains.

“Chickens will handle their own hierarchy. The dogs won’t let the goats fight.”

The calm on the farm didn’t last long. A surprise pregnancy for Arya — Curt says it was definitely not in the plans — led to this spring’s birth of 10 puppies — nine boys, and one girl.

Curt’s wife Shonda and their dear neighbor and friend Jen worked the day shift with the puppies. Curt handled the nights. The new Tennessee farm owner with 216 career wins and three World Series rings was now living in his garage where he would spend the next 12 weeks providing care for the pups.

Even though it was late nights and work keeping those puppies fed and comforted, Curt was ready for the mission. He loves dogs.

“Dogs were always a big deal in my life because my dogs never cared if I gave up seven runs in four innings,” he says.

After 12 weeks in the garage, the puppies were ready to go to their new homes and that’s when things were about to get real interesting.

Schilling on the road with Arya.

As part of the adoption process, Curt learned his good friends Dan and Giana Van Nice at Blue Dog Farms, a grass-fed, farm-to-table operation in York, PA, were losing animals to predators. One particular slaughter included 70 chickens. Fisher-cats were believed to be the culprit.

Blue Dog needed bodyguards. “They decided to adopt four puppies, which was awesome because I was only going to give them away in pairs,” Curt explained.

The dogs went north to their new home, but soon a problem developed. The pups needed a mentor.

“The problem was, if you know anything about fisher-cats, they’re mean as shit and they sound terrifying at night when they scream. These dogs probably weren’t ready to be defenders,” he explained.

Two weeks passed and Blue Dog called to see if they could get one more to work their massive farm. Curt agreed and decided he would take Arya along so she could stay and act as a trainer for the other puppies.

The Schilling pups enjoying a nice warm nap after a meal.

Into the truck Curt went on a Thursday night and he makes it up to Pennsylvania on a Friday morning. The dogs were dropped off and Curt went home. But again, there was a problem. Before Curt even got home, he received a phone call that Arya got out of the farm’s perimeter fence and was on the run. She was looking for Curt. Three days passed. Nobody could get close to her.

The decision for Curt was simple. It was time for a rescue mission.  He got right back in his truck and went to get his girl.

“I always envision this is what farms in heaven look like. At the top of this hill, you can see half of Pennsylvania. So I got to the top of the hill — I drove around the area first — and I called her name. I knew what she would do if she heard me. So I went to the farm and yelled her name at the top of my lungs and 10 minutes later I hear this dog barking off in the woods,” Schilling says.

“I see her jump out of the woods and start sprinting up this hill towards my truck. She runs right by me and jumps through the back window into the back seat.

“She’s like, f— it, I’m ready to go home.”

“My heart was breaking thinking of how scared she was [in PA],” Curt said. “I knew she wanted to come home and I felt terrible for dropping them off in the first place. Obviously, it was with good intent and purposes, but at the same time I tend to look at dogs as kids. It was breaking my heart to think that maybe they thought that I abandoned them.”

“So it was a no-brainer. I drove up and she came home.”

In total, Curt logged 3,000 miles over that five-day period in June in car rides from Tennesssee to Pennsylvania and back.

Arya checking in on her pups.

Things were going to calm down, right?

Wrong.

July 4 fireworks on Schilling’s 30-acre property sent Arya bolting and on a brutal run down TN St. Rt. 100. Soon, Facebook videos showed Curt’s beloved dog running down the highway with bloody paws and nearly being hit by cars.

It was time for another rescue mission.

Thankfully Arya was OK. Life has quieted down and Curt is no longer out on the road performing rescues of his dog.

It’s time to get back to why he came to Tennessee after a fateful day in 2017 provided him with the roadmap he needed in life. While still living in Massachusetts and delivering supplies to people in Texas who were battered by Hurricane Harvey, Schilling’s trailer broke down just outside Nashville.

“I was on the side of the highway and put out a livestream on Facebook and in 30 minutes I had 35 people on the side of the highway unloading my trailer into a new trailer that someone had bought. A guy who owns a shop came and picked up my trailer and took it to his shop to fix and I was on my way,” Curt remembers.

“I was like, you know what, I need to live here. I need to live with these people. And I never forgot it.”

Now it’s home.

What about this whole farm thing? How did that come about?

Curt says after he got out of the hospital in 2014 after battling cancer, Shonda said, “if you want you can buy some chickens for Christmas. Those six chickens she let me get turned into 24.”

And then the chickens needed a Tombstone western-themed town coop.

“I don’t know why, I just did it,” Schilling said.

How is life?

I’d never talked to Curt Schilling before our 40-minute phone conversation. He didn’t know me, but 25 minutes into our conversation I felt so at ease with the guy that I asked as simple a question as I have in this dumb brain of mine.

I’m not here to dig into the politics that send people into a frenzy. Curt’s politics are well-documented. I’m way more interested in how athletes who’ve been to the top of the mountain live life after the triumphs start to fade into the history books. How do they spend their time? What are their passions?

And most importantly, how is life?

“It’s good, it’s good. I always tell people if I could’ve gone back to the day I turned 18 and someone would’ve said you’re going to live the exact life you write down I would’ve cheated myself. The life I’ve lived is far beyond anything I could’ve ever expected or dreamed,” Curt said with a hint of emotion.

“Everybody has regrets. The 38 Studios thing I’ll take to my grave as the most painful experience of my life. But I played baseball for 22 years. I played in some of the most amazing postseasons in the history of the game and I was a big part of them. I played the game the way it’s supposed to be played from the day I put on a uniform until the day I walked away.

The dog life on the Schilling farm.

“And in 22 years I never had a teammate or a fan or anybody ever accuse me of being anything other than just a normal person and a good person.

“The only thing that bothers me is that people that don’t know me, good people that don’t know me might think things that aren’t true. It is what it is.”

“If I would’ve just come out and said, ‘F—k Trump,’ I would’ve been in the hall of fame my fourth or fifth year on the ballot. But, if something happens and I get voted in by the Veterans’ Committee, I’ll walk into the hall having my morals, my integrity, and my ethics intact. And I wouldn’t have kowtowed to some of the most morally reprehensible human beings that have ever lived.”

Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.

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  1. Schill is one of the real ones. Selfishly, I hope he becomes more involved in Outkick. For his sake, I hope he rides off into the sunset on his farm and stays far away from the public eye.

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