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Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
Meeting Bob Slobbers
It is pouring rain today, and Bob and I are upstairs in the guest house listening to the sheets of water hit the pitched metal roof in syncopated patterns. I'm looking over at him, sleeping on the couch in the same spot Billy was last. Different couch, same place. I am all too aware of the time stamp on Bob. Now I leave for work and he is alone all day long and I think of the precious few moments I have left with him. When I come home, he is so happy to see me and I know he has sat on his green leather chair in the living room all day long, waiting for this moment. It is the chair he adopted from his first moments in our home. It is his chair.

It was mid-December 1995 when we met Bob. It is a long story for another time why I was sitting in a car for eight hours on a Saturday with absolutely nothing to do other than read every single word of the Sunday Times. Normally it takes me about twenty minutes to wade through the Macy’s ads and coupons to finish reading the paper. But this day, I had nothing to distract me other than the embarrassingly inadequate Los Angeles Times.

It had been about four months since we lost Vinyldog, our sweet little black cocker who gave way to blindness, loss of hearing and senility. Vinyl used to sleep in her bed next to Billy’s side. Billy would lie in bed before lights out and stare at her. He’d turn to me and say, “She’s so fascinating.” One morning, at 6am, we heard a bony thump on the wood floor and we both woke up knowing what had happened. Our girl gave way. It tore our hearts apart as we drove her to a 24 hour emergency vet and said our goodbyes,

After four months of doggy silence in our house, although we didn’t know it yet, we were prepared to bring another four-legged child into our hearts. So there I am sitting in the car, combing the papers. I turned to the want ads because they had so many words to read it would eat up some time. I looked in the dog section and found a very small ad for an adoption fair being held the following day. I tore it out and stuck it in my pocket.

When I finally was released from my auto prison, I came home, got undressed and emptied my pockets. I was taking a shower when Billy popped in and said, “Hey what’s this?” He was waving the little ad at me as I peeked around the shower curtain. I told him I thought maybe we could just go and check it out. We didn’t have to actually come home with a dog; we could just look and see.

The adoption fair was at a pet store a couple of miles from our home. We got there around 11am and found dog pens surrounding the four walls. There were a few who were not holed up and lying on their blankets. The first dog was a large black lab with the name Bubba. We both bent down and stuck out our hands. He immediately put his big face into Billy’s outstretched palm.

We both knew instantly we wanted Bubba in our lives but to be fair to the others, we made a cursory circle to visit. We met Churchill, an older basset hound who was gruffly barking through his cage. He was cute but no cigar. There was eight-year-old Dexter, a German shepherd whose sad eyes begged for attention. We gave him some ear scratches and nose rubs then we looked back and saw Bubba watching us.

We turned around and went back to him. He was visibly grateful. Billy got down on the floor and was eye to eye with him. I sat there on the floor watching them and knowing we had found our boy. We looked around for whoever was running the show and filled out an application. We were told to call back in a few hours to further our adoption.

We went to a nearby Burger King to have some lunch then walked to the 99 Cent Store to shop. Billy loved bargains. He loved rummaging through rubble to find the prize. We bought some candy bars, a few glasses that had a fruit pattern reminiscent of the kind of glasses once offered in soapboxes and some other stuff I can’t remember. After leaving the store, we went to a nearby pay phone and called the number. I remember standing there, watching Billy as he listened and spoke. I could see how anxious he was to have this adoption happen. So was I.

An appointment was made for the following day for the adoption people to come over and inspect our home and yard. Our backyard has a tall fence surrounding it and the home is nice enough for an abandoned dog so we figured we were in good shape as parents. When Debbie came the next day, she was warm and seemed impressed we met all of the outward requirements to be approved.

Then she asked, “What happens if you two were to break up?” I stumbled for an answer, as I knew I was the one who would respond. Anger and outrage stirred up at such an ugly question, a question that would have never been asked of a married heterosexual couple. But diplomatically I answered, “First of all, we are not going to break up and honestly, have you ever asked that of a traditional couple?”

Debbie blushed a little and smiled, and I knew my response was assured enough for her to not only approve of us as the adoptive parents but also to question herself for asking. We made an appointment with her the next day to visit Bubba over at her house where he was being kept so we could get to know him better.

We both got home early the next evening from work and quickly ate so we could make our meeting with Debbie and Bubba. Leashed and ready to go, he trotted along as Billy held the lead. We went to a nearby schoolyard and sat on the ground for about an hour, petting him and firmly deciding “Bubba” was not going to work as his name.

“Bob!” Billy declared, “Bob Slobbers.”

“Why Slobbers?” I prodded because I knew the kind of response I was going to get.

“Because he slobbers!” he said definitively as if I just missed the obvious.

That was that. We walked him back to Debbie’s and said good night. The plan was to pick him up in two days. It was starting to rain and we went home and prepared for our new Bob. A few hours later, as the rain poured down, we got a call from Debbie asking us if we would mind taking Bob tonight because he was sleeping in an outside doghouse.

“We’ll be right over,” I hung up and we left. Bob seemed very happy to see us. We would later learn how much he hated rain. We brought him home, his new home, dried him off and brought him up on our bed. We didn’t even turn on the TV that night. We lay in bed and talked to him. We asked how his previous home was and what he liked to eat and what his favorite toys are. His eyes told us everything we needed to know.

For the first few weeks, every time we would leave the house with Bob left behind, we would come home and find a t-shirt or pair of underwear of Billy’s warmly snuggled underneath him. He would gather something from the laundry basket and keep it close. That something was always Billy’s.

It’s hard to explain to people when I say that Billy was a dog as well. I don’t mean it in a modern, Jerry Springer way of “Oh that man is a dog!” No. Billy had the purity of spirit and the soulful eyes that connected with other dogs. He would lie on the floor for hours, literally, with Bob and do nothing but look into his eyes and gently pet him.

To Bob, Billy was Daddy and I was Dad. Bob knew the difference too. Sometimes when we are in bed, Bob will suddenly look up and into the distance. I’ll say, “Is that your Daddy?” and he will let go of a guttural moan and I know, in that very instant, Bob and his Daddy are back together again.


Current Mood: nostalgic nostalgic
Current Music: The Robert Slobbers Song - Bill Ledbetter

12 comments or Leave a comment
fabulist From: fabulist Date: March 15th, 2003 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
This hits close to home, albeit without the whole horrible extra layer that it must have for you. I can't even think of anything remotely clever or helpful here except to say that I know exactly what you're feeling, even if I've got a much smaller burden to bear. I'm watching my pup (and she'll always be my pup, even in her dowdy dowager years) right now, just curled up on the couch snoring, sleeping that dog sleep with her eyes pinched tight, and the fact that I can't do a damn thing to hang onto her is f*cking heartbreaking. There's an important life lesson to be learned, I guess, but you get tired of life lessons sometimes, you really, really, do.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 15th, 2003 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that dog snore/sleep. I love the way their noses get dry and warm and so very kissable. The deal we make when we get a dogfriend is we love and feed them and know, in the recesses of our minds, we will outlive them. It is heartbreaking and I'm tired of going to school. She's a very lucky pup to have Joe as her dad.
zombietruckstop From: zombietruckstop Date: March 15th, 2003 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
As I'm sure you can tell from my post about my cats, I'm a firm believer in pets picking their dads! What a sweet story :)

Where does Bob like to go for a walk these days?
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 15th, 2003 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely agree with you about pets choosing their owners. If they're rescued, they are appreciative for life.

Bob, like his Dad, likes to go around the same few blocks as we've done for the past eight years. He loves the routine and knows his favorite spots and I enjoy watching him revisit them everyday. Now that Julia Roberts has moved around the corner, I say, "Let's go find Julia!" to him which gets him all excited. Not that he's seen "Pretty Woman" or even "Erin Brockovich" but the tone in my voice tells him we are off and running. Billy taught him this song "Somebody's gettin' a punch in the nose," and that also signals a walk. He erupts in yelps and happy circles as if it were the first time he's ever been for a walk.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 15th, 2003 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also I am certain your cats made well-informed choices when coming to you. They are as lucky as you are. Thanks for reading my Bob story : )
(Deleted comment)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 15th, 2003 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I guess some of my Billy entries are a mirror of what's jangling around in my head. I celebrate our time and life together but it's all tempered by what has happened. Laughing and crying get all mixed up into the same soup.

It sounds like what a cruise ship comedian would call himselfThat's very funny, drood.

I'm certain there's some hapless hack sailing right now in front of a gray haired crowd telling airline food jokes with the name Harry HaHa or Jacky Wacky (there really is a Bob Zany).
raptusanxieux From: raptusanxieux Date: March 15th, 2003 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The time with animal friends is just too short. I remember looking at Peen the first night she was here, when she was 6 weeks old, and thinking, "you're going to break my heart some day." Some of our client's pets are obviously not going to be with us much longer and some days, that's all just too sad.
You should teach Bob the phrase "bite Julia!"
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 15th, 2003 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
In some ways you have the perfect job. You get to nurture your client's pets and get some of that love without having to fully invest emotionally. How old is Peen? And how did she get that name?
raptusanxieux From: raptusanxieux Date: March 15th, 2003 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is cool, and not a day goes by that they don't make me laugh, even at times when they're attacking or biting or crapping or farting in my face as I brush their tails. I try to give them a good experience, because some of them are just totally freaked out. One of my co-workers picked this job because she hates people, but I've tried to explain about how much of this job involves keeping the mom or dad from being freaked about leaving the pet.
Peen is 8 1/2, which is still pretty young for a cat. She's named Miss Peenit Woo Wee; Peenit because she was teeny tiny as a kitten from the shelter, (the spelling is based on how Kris's Grandma said the word "peanut,") and the Woo Wee is for the little gas problem she had when we first got her.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: March 15th, 2003 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well Miss Peenit Woo Wee is going to be around for quite a bit more time. 8 1/2 is a perfect age. And I'm glad you adjusted her diet to make the Woo Wee aspect irrelevant.
wonderboynj From: wonderboynj Date: March 15th, 2003 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

That was beautiful.

Thanks for sharing.

Now I need a tissue.
ruralrob From: ruralrob Date: March 15th, 2003 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've said it before, but Bob looks mighty like our Bailey - and sounds just as affectionate.

You are so lucky to have a dog as loving as he is, and with the history and memories he comes with. Thanks for sharing the story.
12 comments or Leave a comment