Jilly D.

Bob dog

In Friends on October 20, 2011 at 1:11 am

Bob, the dog, owned the corner of 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue in Hyde Park where I rented a room in a brownstone for a couple of years in grad school. Bob was a real junkyard dog; a Heinz 57 variety with an old man’s face even when he was a pup. I moved into the ghetto and the dog had been left behind along with a smelly mess in my new digs.

Walking through the hood alone as a stupid white girl from Wisconsin, I adopted this dog as my mascot and put a red bandana around his neck. About four months old in 1982, Bob did everything to please me and learned a million tricks. Initial leash training proved his extraordinary intelligence and total obedience to me. After a few weeks I never put the leash on him unless I was tying him up outside a building to run a quick errand inside. Most places let me take Bob along; to classes, in the bookstore, office buildings.

Bob and I went everywhere together on foot. That little red bandana of his proved my safe passage through the street hustlers and dope dealers. Red was the right color to be sportin’ on 53rd and Cornell. The gang-bangers were afraid of dogs; especially a crazy mangy looking one, off leash.

For years Bob and I walked around the Point on Lake Michigan, up and down the Midway, across the quads and through the streets of Hyde Park. Bob and I would walk up to 56th to Harold’s Chicken Shack and get a plate to share. He’d been eating chicken bones off the street so long, getting some with a little meat still on it was our treat. I’d walk with him to the grocery store and tie him up near the bike rack. On the way to classes in the morning, I’d leave him outside the Divinity School while I ran downstairs for a cup of hot coffee. Bob liked hanging outside the doors there. Everyone talked to him so nicely. He’d just sit there delighted to wait and wag his tail.

In 1986 I bought my first car, a 1972 Subaru, and took a trip north out of Chicago back to Appleton, Wisconsin, where I’d gone to high school and college. I planned to spend the weekend at the home of my friends’ Amy and Tracy. Bob and Laurie and Amy and I walked down College Avenue a couple miles and decided to eat at a great Italian eatery. I tied Bob up to a parking meter right near the side entrance to the restaurant, in the shade and off the sidewalk in the grass.

A bottle of red wine, huge plates of pasta, garlic bread, and salad and we stumbled back out into the street laughing.

“Wha…Where’s Bob?” I immediately noticed Bob was not at the parking meter. I start calling out my dog’s name. My heart was in my throat. No, this can’t be happening.

“Bob. Bob dog!” I whistled. I heard a muffled bark. The three of us walked behind the restaurant and in the parking lot Laurie noticed the white van of Animal Control.

“Look. He’s got to be in there,” Laurie pointed to the back of the vehicle and just then its’ back-up lights went red.

I rushed up to the back and started banging on the doors. I heard Bob whining inside. The driver braked, put it in park and jumped out of the vehicle.

“What are you doing lady?” said an officer in uniform.

“That’s my dog in there. You can’t steal my dog. He was waiting outside the door for us and he was tied up to the parking meter,” I said. “Let me have my dog.”

“No. No. We are taking this dog. You can pick him up tomorrow at the pound,” he told us.

“Give me back my dog. Open those doors. Now. I said give Bob back to me,” I shrieked.

Amy started to giggle a bit. Then she collected herself.

“Officer. I don’t think you understand. My friend is here on a road trip with her dog from Chicago and she needs to get her dog back tonight. The dog has its rabies tags and ID tag and we didn’t know we needed to put money in the parking meter for parking the dog,” Amy spoke sweetly. She smiled down at Office Howdy Doody from her view at 5’11” wearing flats.

“No. No.” He got back in the van. We moved out of the van’s way.

“Come on,” said Amy. We ran back to her house and climbed in her car and drove out to the dog pound. The van was parked outside. The sun had set and it was dark. I got out of the car and banged on the locked door.

A patrol car drove up and briefly turned on its’ headlights and siren with a half dozen bwuep, bwueps. Two officers approached us and by this time I was determined to get Bob out of the slammer or I was going in with him for the night.

Amy thought the latter was becoming a likely outcome. Maybe it was all my tears and hysterics and yelling and screaming, but nah. I think Amy finally convinced them I was serious about wanting to get Bob back and that in her custody I could be trusted to leave town without further incident. They didn’t lock me up and they did release Bob and he was curled up at my feet before 10 p.m.

Bob protected me in the big city from the hoodlums but in small town Appleton, I had to protect him from the dog catcher and Barney Fife.

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