Ross Blevins told me that he had the most worthless dog in the world and that he wouldn’t take anything for him.
He said, “Bob was completely untrainable. . . I mean even in the simplest things. He wouldn’t sit, he wouldn’t be quiet when you hollered at him for barking and even though the dog knew the rules of being housebroken he chose to ignore them.” Ross said he named him Bob because he didn’t deserve any better name. “Just Bob,” he’d say.
FedEx once sent him a note stating that they’d no longer make deliveries at Ross’s house unless he’d have a way of corralling Bob. For some reason Bob didn’t mind UPS, but there was something about the FedEx truck that would drive him a little bit nuts and even a secure screen door wasn’t enough to make the drivers feel confident in leaving a package on Ross’s porch. “All further packages will be marked ‘undeliverable’ until remedial steps are taken,” is how they put it. Ross thought perhaps it was the color of the truck but he didn’t know for sure. Bob was silent on the matter.
Our county has a leash law but it’s generally ignored and therefore Bob pretty much has the run of the town. Used to be we could set our garbage out on the curb the night before the truck came but Bob changed all that. The dog became our local trash inspector and hardly a bag in town escaped his jaws. I suppose it provides us with a nice sense of community since we chat with our neighbors while chasing down our trash every Friday morning.
Bob also saves the neighborhood the expense of fertilizing our lawns, as he’d leave his nutritious little deposits liberally over the town. You could hardly blame him after eating that much garbage.
As a sort of joke Ross entered Bob in the “Best Pet” contest when we celebrated the town’s 175th birthday last year. He somehow got the pooch to sit for a bath and tied a blue ribbon around his neck saying, “Town’s worst dog.” We thought we’d actually get to see Bob behave for once until at the start of the parade the dog swung his neck around, grabbed a yipping Pomeranian by the throat and tossed him into the 4-H float. Ross took Bob home for some counseling.
He said that he didn’t actually buy or find the dog, he simply showed up one day and Ross made the mistake of tossing him some leftover French fries. Ross says that Bob is especially fond of fries. He’ll toss a handful onto the back porch and Bob will just stare at him until his owner goes into the house to get ketchup. “I don’t know why I keep him,” said Ross. “He’s nothin’ but a bother.”
To be honest, I don’t like Bob either. I’ll go out for my nightly stroll, turn the corner, and there he’ll be standing on the sidewalk with that look that says, “I’m about to lick your hand or bite your leg and I haven’t quite decided which.” I turn around and walk the other direction. Just because you know a dog well that doesn’t mean he likes you. Sort of like an in-law.
Ross said that the worst thing about Bob is growing inability to hold his water. Bob’s an old dog by now and he suffers from the problem common to many males. Ross is a generally neat housekeeper so this has bothered him a great deal, and the last time I was in his house it was pretty much carpeted with newspapers, one end to another. Ross said that Bob had a special weakness for my newspaper columns in The Source. I mentally chalked up reason number two for not liking Bob.
It’s surely unusual for an entire town to dislike a dog. To my knowledge he’s never actually bit anyone, but he’s that kind of personality that makes you wish he’d move to another town. . . .Or walk out blindly in front of an approaching FedEx truck.
One day after Bob had let the entire neighborhood know what I’d been eating that week by strewing the contents of my trash bag a full half block, I’d finally had enough. I walked over to Ross’s house and asked him why he continued to keep a pet that was so disagreeable. He looked at me a minute and it might have been my imagination that I saw a tear creep into his left eye, and said, “Well Ken. He likes me. He’s irritating, he’s beyond training, you can’t reason with him, and he won’t do a thing I tell him to do, but he likes me. The damned dog really likes me.”
How could I answer something like that? I went home and picked up my garbage.