Biff America: A dog named Bob
Eagle County CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Thousands of years from now, if a researcher hoped to study the lifestyle and mindset of our society today, one tool would be to recover an intact refrigerator door from an American home.
Attached are grocery lists, children’s pictures, kid’s art work, unpaid bills and appointment reminders, all telling indicators of who lived in that home.
If millenniums from now archaeologists stumble on my mate’s and my refrigerator I can imagine their assumptions. Here lived a self-absorbed childless couple who bathed outdoors, were obsessed with recreation … and loved their dog.
Our door is crowded with pictures of us and friends, biking, skiing and hiking. Underneath you might find a picture of nieces or nephews; and way under that are a couple of candid shots of me, buck-naked, bathing under a solar shower in the desert.
But all those photos are dwarfed and outnumbered by pictures of our dog, Robby, in various poses and locations.
Robby is a 20-pound Cairn Terrier. “Robby” is his Baptismal name, but he goes by many nom de plumes including Bob, Little Guy, Buster, Mighty-Bob-Big-Dump and Robby Pink-Stick. The little kids in the neighborhood shriek “Bobby” when they see him, causing him to run up, wag his tail, stick his nose to the sky and howl.
I call him “Peckerhead.”
We got Robby about 10 years ago from my wife’s parents. Bob lived on Martha’s Vineyard. My in-laws live on a large expanse of land abutting the water and bordering a riding stables and a hobby farm. One day my mother-in-law was hosting her Emily Bronte reading group when, while strolling the grounds, they discovered Bob lying in a pile of freshly killed turkey guts.
It was a crime of passion ” Robby loves the flavor of fowl. He killed two domestic birds and the piper demanded payment.
The owner of the small farm happened to be the chief of police who, the week before, noticed that his prized Burmese peacock was missing most of its tail feathers. When confronted, my in-laws honestly admitted that they had noticed some colorful plumage on their front steps.
Robby was ordered off the island and into our lives. Since that day we’ve become the people we used to mock ” a couple obsessed with our little dog.
My big brother Mike is fond of saying that my marriage has proven that I can finally love someone else as much as I love myself. Robby bumped me down to third position.
He is the son we will never have. We indulge and pamper him like a child, include him in our lives like a best friend and my wife cuddles him like a stuffed animal.
I’ve installed baskets on my town bike and motor scooter so I can take Bob along while I do errands. We seldom travel without him and after any long day of recreating, we will go home, get him and go out again for a Robby-specific outing so he can have some fun and exercise. If the snow is too deep, we’ll make several passes on a trail in order to pack it out enough for his four-inch legs to handle.
Until now I’ve kept most of this to myself because I am embarrassed over how much I love our little “Peckerhead.”
These recent storms have been tough on Bob. The deep snow has confined him to places that have been plowed or packed. No sooner does his favorite trail get skied in when it snows again, making it too deep for his little legs.
Ellen and I wanted to backcountry ski last Wednesday. We hoped to make some turns in deep snow off a peak or in the trees. Instead we took Bob on a popular, snowpacked cross country ski trail.
It is safe to say that it was his best day of the season. The trail was hard enough for him to run along behind us while periodically stopping to check his pee-mail. When we would stop, he would roll in the packed snow kicking his legs up in the air and snorting.
We skied about four miles slightly uphill and turned around to head back to our truck.
While descending, we would get ahead, stop and ski back uphill to check on him.
On other days I might carry him on the downhills like a football. A few times that day I considered it, but he was having too much fun.
At the end of our day, about 50 yards from our vehicle, Robby was attacked and killed by a coyote. We were about two minutes ahead.
It was quick, bloody and ” I hope ” painless. When I picked him up, only minutes later, I knew it was too late.
My wife has lived a life with very little death. I, on the other hand, have lost many friends and family starting with a childhood sweetheart at 14 and my best friend at 18. That doesn’t seem to matter. Both of us are equally devastated.
Robby’s best friend and step-father, Mike, a Buddhist, says that there is an after life for dogs. That certainly made me feel better, but it hasn’t seemed to lessen Mike’s grief.
I have temporarily removed most of Bob’s pictures from our refrigerator door, in the process unearthing that naked photo of me showering in the desert.
It feels good to laugh again.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.