Hobbes on the beach in San Francisco
Our beloved dog, Hobbes, passed on last Thursday. This post explains how we met and became friends. Photos were taken by my partner, Wade Jones.
Conceivably, it was the worst year of my life. The relationship that brought me to Atlanta ended (to my complete surprise and utter dismay), my loving mother died, my half-time employment as an editor was threatened, and, given my limited income, it was not a slam dunk that I could assume full responsibility for the mortgage.
Grief and fear alternated as guests in my home, and when I began dating again, I swore I would someday write a book entitled, “Dates from Hell.” A few of them would have made hilarious Seinfeld episodes, and a couple were worthy of Stephen King.
Along with a few select friends, Calvin got me through much of this. Not the theologian and Reformer—my dog, of whom I had demanded custody. That’s how we came to encounter Hobbes on a walk in Grant Park. Jealous Calvin wouldn’t let me near her, so I drove him home and returned with a leash and a collar, without thinking of bringing a treat to lure her.
I had become accustomed to seeing dogs loose in that park, without realizing that it was a dumping ground for unwanted pets. I had already found one dog and returned it to its owner, but other dogs were skittish or without tags, and I had long before decided to let them find their way home.
What was different about Hobbes was that she was repeatedly crossing an adjacent street, and I could not have borne it to find her body by the side of the road on a subsequent visit.
Upon my return to the park, I did not immediately see her, but some homeless men who had witnessed me approach her earlier waved me in her direction, deeper in the park. It was not lost on me that homeless men were helping find shelter for this homeless dog, and that our sympathies for the homeless are more frequently directed toward pets than people.
Without a snack to entice her, I simply sat on a slope near where she was roaming. She circled me until her circling brought her close enough to say hello and put on a collar. She did not resist, and I drove her home, carefully introducing her to Calvin.
I put up signs in the park’s neighborhood and contacted animal shelters, in case her owners were looking for her. She was never claimed, and by the first week I was already in love with her, dreading her owner might call.
Calvin, of course, had been named for the Reformer, but I gave Hobbes her name because she reminded me of the canny tiger in the comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes. Both were mixes that included golden retriever and Labrador, and though Calvin was larger, they looked like siblings. Initially Calvin was top dog, but Hobbes soon learned how to give him “what-for,” and may have proved to be the alpha dog.
The veterinarian gauged she must be about nine months of age and had not been spayed. I waited weeks, in case her owner appeared, but finally decided to have her “fixed,” as they say. I cried as I drove home after leaving her at the vet’s office for the procedure. Though I realized the necessity of it, I recognized the human hubris of having it done without her ability to make the choice. I was taking away something that might have delighted her: motherhood.
After a year of dating dangerously, even living dangerously, Calvin and Hobbes kept me tethered to home. They were both dating service (“Oh, aren’t they cute! What are their names?”) and editorial board (“No, not that one. Not kind enough. Probably won’t share the bed.”).
Then I met Wade (we joke that Hobbes was born out of wedlock), and though he was a bit overwhelmed by a man with two dogs, their love for him seconded my own. When I took a temporary position at MCC San Francisco, they kept me company in Wade’s absence. And, as Calvin had licked my face when my mother died, Hobbes comforted me when Calvin died.
My L.A. brother visited me in S.F. and told me how moving it was to witness Hobbes longingly watch me walk to the BART station in the distance and then return to that front window periodically to check if I were headed home. And now that I live with Wade, she was always looking for me, either from her ottoman beneath a front window, or by checking my office off our garage before heading upstairs. And, of course, she got loved on more than we do!
She was with us nearly sixteen years, and I can’t imagine what life will be like without her.
Thanks be to God, Hobbes found me!
Click here and scroll through other posts that mention Hobbes.
Hobbes wrote one post herself, “Hounds in Heaven.”
A post about Hobbes’ illness, “Misplaced Devotion?”
Hobbes made it onto the pages of The New York Times.
Hobbes awaiting my return in S.F.
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