This is a true story. In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Dog Named Bob.”
One day about ten years ago, my wife pulled into the driveway after work. As she got out of her vehicle, she noticed a dog sitting in the lawn across the street. The dog got up as if to say, “Oh, you’re home, finally!” As she proceeded towards the front door, the dog was coming closer, and by the time she got to the door, the dog was right there with her. Upon opening the door, my wife had to block the dog from coming inside. Instead of taking the hint, the dog just sat there, figuring we were going to let it in at some point.
We had never seen this dog before. It was a large dog, but seemed very friendly. Our best guess after looking on the internet was that he was a Bernese Mountain Dog. Similar in appearance to a Saint Bernard, but not quite as big. He must have known that we had fostered dogs before and knew this was the house to show up at. We sometimes referred to our house as the Underground Railway for abused dogs. The sun had already set when my wife came home, but now the sky was darker than a bluejay, yet not quite black. The dog remained seated at the front door, patiently waiting his turn to come in. Now, the animal control truck arrived across the street and over one house, the one with the mailboxes in front of it.
A couple months earlier, there had been an older stray wandering the neighborhood. The stray would only come to our house and theirs, as they would put food out for it. Even though we had never taken the dog in, we had talked to several people and found someone interested in the dog. The next time it showed up, we were going to bring it in. We weren’t fast enough. The next time it showed up, the people across the street and over one house had a plate of food out for it. They had called animal control, and were holding the dog so the dog catcher could put its noose on the dog. That dog was old and probably spent its last days at the pound. We weren’t going to let that happen again.
I went out the back door and around to the side gate. I opened it quietly and walked to the front. “Pssst, come here!” I whispered, beckoning our visitor to the back yard. He came along quietly, as if to say, “I knew you guys were going to take me in!” I kept him in the backyard, away from our dogs. I thought it might be hungry, so I grabbed a plastic bowl and put some dry food in it. After a while I went back outside to check on our guest dog. The food bowl I had put out for him was gone. I don’t mean empty, I mean the entire bowl was gone. I turned on the backyard floodlight to check on this disappearance. Apparently, this dog didn’t like eating on the patio, and had moved his dish under the tree about thirty feet away. Not a morsel was spilled. We had three dogs already, and had taken in several fosters and knew that dogs had their individual personalities, but this was something new. It was getting late, and this dog was going to have to come inside for the night, which meant he’d have to meet the other three.
This dog had been an alpha where he came from, and the tension between him and our male dog, Rufus, wasn’t going to make fostering this dog an easy task. Rufus was a mixed breed, but mostly pit bull. Whatever he was mixed with made him taller and with a slimmer ribcage than most pits. Also a foster that my wife couldn’t let go, he had special training wherever he came from. He would jump the 6 foot cinder block wall in our backyard and walk it like a cat when we weren’t home. Rufus wasn’t just an alpha male, he was the alpha male of the neighborhood. With that in mind, our guest dog was going to have to stay in the kitchen most of the time. It had a fixed baby-gate, and we added a second one above it to keep Rufus on one side or the other.
We had a rule about not naming animals that weren’t going to be staying with us. I felt stupid calling this thing “dog” all the time, so I broke the rule on this occasion. It was obvious to me that he should be called Bob, from the movie What About Bob. If you haven’t seen the movie, mental patient (Bill Murray) shows up at his psychiatrist’s (Richard Dreyfuss) vacation home as though he should be fully welcomed.
We had Bob checked out at the vet the next day to see if he was chipped. Nothing. He was ours to find a home for, so we took some pictures, sent out some emails, printed a few flyers, and waited to see who was interested. A week went by, then two. During that time we discovered Bob was possibly as smart as Rufus. One day, we were in the house but had forgotten to put up the second baby-gate. We heard what sounded like a ferocious battle taking place in the kitchen. As we ran in there, we were expecting blood and fur everywhere. They had knocked over the water bowl, so the floor was wet. Both dogs were lying on the ground as though it was syrup, not water, they had spilled. They were three feet from each other, snarling, as if to say, “If I could get up, I would so kick your ass right now!”
Finally after three weeks, we had someone coming over to check out Bob. It was a family, and they had two boys, no older than eight. They seemed pleased with Bob, and were talking along the lines of taking him home with them. Other than tensions with Rufus, this was one very well behaved dog. Like I said before, he was a smart dog, and he knew we were trying to find another home for him. Bob didn’t approve of the people we had brought over, so he looked at us, then looked at the family, then lifted his leg and peed on our sofa.
Needless to say, within five minutes that family had changed their tune about wanting to take Bob and were out the door. It was almost a week later until we had someone else interested in Bob. We were beginning to think that he was ours forever after the peeing incident, but this woman had heard the story, and was still interested in Bob. When she came over, her and Bob immediately hit it off. She wasn’t there more than five minutes before she took him home. Several months later, we heard from a mutual friend that this woman was out on a walk with Bob. When another dog tried to attack, Bob had no problems defending her and scaring off the other dog. She was extremely grateful for Bob. We had found the right home for him.