Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hobbes Found Me

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!

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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Copyright © 2015 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.  


    Friend, please don’t mourn for me
    I’m still here, though you don’t see.
    I’m right by your side each night and day and within your heart I long to stay.
    and within your heart I long to stay.

    My body is gone but I’m always near.
    I’m everything you feel, see or hear.
    My spirit is free, but I’ll never depart
    as long as you keep me alive in your heart.

    I’ll never wander out of your sight-
    I’m the brightest star on a summer’s night.
    I’ll never be beyond your reach-
    I’m the warm moist sand when you’re at the beach.

    I’m the colorful leaves when fall comes around
    and the pure white snow that blankets the ground.
    I’m the beautiful flowers of which you’re so fond,
    The clear cool water in a quiet pond.

    I’m the first bright blossom you’ll see in the spring,
    The first warm raindrop that April will bring.
    I’m the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,
    and you’ll see that the face in the moon shine is mine.

    When you start thinking there’s no one to love you,
    you can talk to through the Lord up above you.
    I’ll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,
    and you’ll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.

    I’m the hot salty tears that flow when you weep
    and the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.
    I’m the smile you see on a baby’s face.
    Just look for me friend, I’m every place!

    I stood by your bed last night,
    I came to have a peep.
    I could see that you were crying,
    You found it hard to sleep.

    I whined to you softly
    as you brushed away a tear,
    "It's me, I haven't left you,
    I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

    I was close to you at breakfast,
    I watched you pour the tea,
    You were thinking of the many times,
    your hands reached down to me.

    I was with you at the shops today,
    Your arms were getting sore.
    I longed to take your parcels,
    I wish I could do more.

    I was with you at my grave today,
    You tend it with such care.
    I want to re-assure you,
    that I'm not lying there.

    I walked with you towards the house,
    as you fumbled for your key.
    I gently put my paw on you,
    I smiled and said " it's me."

    You looked so very tired,
    and sank into a chair.
    I tried so hard to let you know,
    that I was standing there.

    It's possible for me,
    to be so near you every day.
    To say to you with certainty,
    "I never went away."

    You sat there very quietly,
    then smiled, I think you knew...
    In the stillness of that evening,
    I was very close to you.

    The day is over...
    I smile and watch you yawning
    and say "good-night, God bless,
    I'll see you in the morning."

    And when the time is right for you
    to cross the brief divide,
    I'll rush across to greet you
    and we'll stand, side by side.

    I have so many things to show you,
    there is so much for you to see.
    Be patient, live your journey out...
    then come home to be with me.

  2. " 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." WOW. That just convicted me this morning.

    Praying for you through your loss, Chris.

    1. Thanks, Zac! Good to hear from you.

  3. I was taking care of feral cats this morning and wondered why i was not taking care of the homeless guys near the same area. Why? But, anyway, THANK for sharing your thoughts with us. You are in fellowship.

  4. Chris, thanks for reflecting on Hobbes and for posting pictures. What a delightful creature. Would that we learned as much about unconditional love from people as we do from animals. Starts with us, doesn't it?

  5. What a beautiful tribute, Chris. I am so sorry for the loss you and Wade have in your life right now. Sixteen years is a long time, but not nearly long enough for such a sweet soul like Hobbes. Thanks again for sharing this story.

  6. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing.