The Sunday morning coffee pot was switched on late this morning which happens when you spend Saturday night in Tuscaloosa with the Crimson Tide. I’m grumpy this morning and I assume Arkansas is too after a 41-9 drubbing which featured ‘Bama scoring on their first play of the game, a 75 yard run. Things then got progressively worse for the Hogs.
But we finally got percolating on a very special day:
He was whelped nine years ago today in someplace near or maybe it was far. We’ll never know because no one knows for certain, although it was likely somewhere in the Alabama countryside. How and where his parents hooked up will remain between them but thank you both for taking the time.
How he got to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society will also remain a mystery. Abandoned? Escaped? Rescued? Turned back by another family? Who knows?
But how it came to be that four months later he threw-up in my car on the way to his forever home is beyond dispute
Andi wanted a dog ever since I met her in 1985. Jason and Scott did too during that very same decade. I stalled. I put them off. I ignored them. Jason went off to the University of Kansas; Scott to UNLV. I knew Andi would forget about it. I won.
One 2009 winter’s day and said she found him. Found who? “Yogi” was his kennel name. She wanted me to see him. I had no interest but off we went to GBHS on a Friday afternoon. The GBHS adoption counselor put us in a small adoption room with this scrawny, funny-looking heap of fur whose head was bigger than his body, ears that looked like they could receive a DirecTV signal and the tell-tale spotted tongue of a Chow mix.
I froze. I was terrified. I hugged a wall with my back like a mural. I couldn’t do it. Andi knew it. So we told the counselor “thanks, but put him back”.
I felt like a heel the entire weekend. Even more so than I normally did. I told Andi on Sunday if Yogi was still there on Tuesday when the shelter opened again, we would go get him. I prayed he was adopted before then.
But Tuesday rolled around and there he was. He wouldn’t look at me and I wouldn’t look at him. He knew how I felt. I don’t hide those things very well.
Somehow we were approved as adoptive parents. I’m not sure how; there was no mistaking my body language but Andi’s enthusiasm clearly carried the day as it normally does.
We got in the car and started home. He threw-up on the floorboard. I made it perfectly clear to Andi it was her dog, I wanted nothing to do with him other than to name him. Yogi wasn’t a name that was going to stick. And one more thing– he couldn’t go into our bedroom. Heck, I was barely allowed in.
It’s been written before but I gave Andi a choice of three names: GoAway, Asshole or Ibis. She immediately struck GoAway and said we already have an asshole in the house, there isn’t room for two. Ibis, the mascot of The U, my alma mater, was it.
We still despised each other. The Chow-formerly-known-as-Yogi wouldn’t go near me. It was fine by me. Then a week or two went by and I actually began to like the little guy, but he still was attached his mama’s tennis skirt. Now I was getting frustrated.
Andi enrolled us in doggie/parent obedience school, once a week for six weeks on Wednesday nights, to see if we couldn’t learn to tolerate each other. There were about a dozen others in the same situation in the class. Ibis wouldn’t get out of the car when we got there because he knew Andi was leaving. It took about three weeks but something clicked. I’m not sure what it was, maybe the pocket full of treats I carried.
Yada, yada and you know the rest of the story. Ibis and I are best pals. The competition isn’t much as he is anti-social as is the breed and the saying we have in our house that Andi has ‘never met a stranger and I never met a neighbor’ is more than rhetoric. Ibis and I were made for each other.
Life for me got much better since Ibis came home. In a classic you-don’t-see-it-coming, because of him I have been rewarded with a seat on the GBHS board. It’s now a passion that will remain with me forever.
Everybody in the neighborhood knows Ibis by name. He still doesn’t want anything to do with anybody, but everyone knows him. He is now 100 pounds and still all hair. His head and tv antenna ears have grown smartly into the rest of his body. Damn, is he handsome. He is never, ever on a leash because there’s no reason. We know each other’s moves. When we walk he either waits for me or me him. He won’t chase a rabbit or squirrel until he looks right at me and gets the run or stay sign.
We have seen each other through multiple surgeries. He’s had two ACL tears – damn squirrels – and I’ve had two shoulder surgeries and of course the big cinco-de-bypass eight weeks ago. He didn’t leave my side when I came home.
And in May he was chosen as King of Birmingham’s doggie festival, ‘Do Dah Day.’ That’s a big deal. There is no higher two or four legged honor in a town that remains one of the country’s great secrets.
So happy ninth birthday to the King, I can’t imagine the last eight years, eight months without you in my life. Whoever was smart enough to say that you rescued us and not the other way around, sure knew what the heck they were talking about!
He threw up in your car on the way home and you didn’t turn around and take him back? Man, Andi has really ‘mensched’ you out, RB.
Great prose as always. Think I could get you to write my eulogy? No rush. Just saying….
Its amazing how dogs can change our life style and perspective on things!
Love the picture of you and ibis in the car !
Outstanding dog story! I grew up until I was almost 14 on a farm in VA, surrounded by some of the greatest dogs ever to inhabit the planet! I’m a dog guy all the way!