Bailey Thomson Professor
Journalism Department
Box 870172
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Tel: 205-348-8617
Fax: 205-348-2780

 

Jan. 15, 2002

Bob Needs a Home

By Bailey Thomson

Bob became an orphan just three weeks after his unwanted birth. His mother rejected him during a cold spell and left him to freeze. One of her neer-do-well companions playfully tossed the little fellow onto a neighbor’s doorstep.

The neighbor wrapped Bob in a blanket and tried to feed him warm cereal. But Bob’s tiny body shriveled, and he barely whimpered. Besides, he had a skin rash.

In desperation, the man brought Bob to the adoption center, where my 17-year-old daughter, Sarah, happened to be on volunteer duty that morning.

“Can you take him?” the man asked. He knew little about Bob’s past, except that the homeless mother had been hanging around, cadging food.

Sarah’s first instinct was to seek medical help. Within an hour, Bob had antibiotics swirling around his little system and substitute mother’s milk warming his stomach.

“He wants to live,” said our veterinarian, Dr. Guy May. “I think he can make it.”

Sarah seemed relieved when I answered the telephone. She knows I am a softer touch than her mother. Both of her two orphan cats found refuge in our home through Sarah’s persuasion.

“Dad, I’m paying for the vet bill. I just need a place for the puppy to stay until someone else can take him,” she said.

I turned to her mother and, with hand over the mouthpiece, informed her we about to become adoptive parents again. “I’ll go get them,” my wife replied. The puppy had passed his first crisis.

Dr. May suggested we hand-feed Bob to get nutrients, vitamins and more antibiotics into him. An electric heater turned a towel-draped laundry basket into an incubator. And everyone took a watch, as twenty-four-hour care commenced.

Sarah gave Bob his name, and it seems to fit his personality. He is solid black, perhaps with some Labrador retriever heritage.

Who knows at this point what he will look like as an adult. For now, he is a wrinkled fur ball who, after more than week of  intensive love, has found his legs and learned to escape his baby pen. He is eating moist puppy chow from a saucer, and he sleeps through the night.

The other animals, including our two grown dogs, remain curious about this interloper, but they have learned that a halo of human affection protects him. The collie seems to feel some maternal tug, but she is also a tad jealous of Bob. Meanwhile, the younger cat, homeless himself only a few months ago, spits with disgust, but he’s coming around.

Plans call for Bob to enter the Pet Adoption Center’s network in about four weeks. The group works hard to place animals it accepts. Somewhere out there is a loving owner – someone who won’t look first for Bob’s pedigree nor demand a fancy certificate from the American Kennel Club.

This person will see that Bob visits the vet regularly and has decent food. The owner will provide Bob with a safe place when he is alone and take him out to walk and run every day. And to make sure Bob as an adult doesn’t scatter his own orphans, the owner will have him neutered.

But oh what pleasure Bob will give back. He already comes eagerly when we clap and call him. Given a chance, Bob will  protect and love those humans who belong to his pack. After all, his canine ancestors were the first animals to associate willingly with people.

“He is God’s creation,” my wife likes to say, as she gushes over Bob’s latest little triumphs. Yes, he is. And for whatever reason, God chose one of the least of his creatures to help three humans appreciate life’s miracle.

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