As a longtime volunteer at Bob’s House, I’ve gotten the added bonus of getting to know many of the dogs that have come through the doors over the years. While I’ve adopted three, there’s a few others that have secured a special place in my heart. Bear, Midnight and Scooter, the three disabled German shepherds who became Bob’s House’s first residents. Bandit, a black and tan wiener dog-mix who was a pro at marching in Eau Claire’s Doll and Pet Parade. Speaking of parades, Homer, a pleasantly plump basset hound who had to be carried from First Avenue back to the Leader-Telegram after the city’s Memorial Day Parade. And, Felix, Koda and Pete, three of the original members of the Here to Stay program.
If you don’t remember them or didn’t have the pleasure to meet them, let me fill you in. Felix, a Pomeranian, was left extremely timid from years in a puppy mill. Koda was a German shepherd mix with severe separation anxiety. And, Pete was a charcoal miniature poodle who loved to be held and cuddled.
The three often accompanied my boyfriend, Jeff, and me on our Canine Company nursing home visits over the years. All of them, especially Pete, were a hit with the people we visited. Even before he was invited, Pete often jumped into a resident’s lap and snuggled close. And, many of his admirers didn’t want to give him back at the end of the visit either.
But, there was that one visit to Bloomer … On this particular Saturday, the residents were waiting for us as they usually did in their activity room. Rather than sitting in a circle, a handful of ladies were sitting at the large table in the room. “Have we got a surprise for the dogs!” one lady shouted, hardly able to contain her excitement. Before Jeff or I could figure out what was going on, Felix, Koda and Pete were pulling us to the table, where the ladies were holding out special peanut butter cookies they had made for the dogs.
While Felix was usually shy at first and Pete was oh, so calm, both seemed possessed as they dragged us forward and begged for cookie after cookie from the residents who happily indulged them. (Koda was never one to pass up a treat, so him being the first one to the table wasn’t surprising at all.)
On the return trip to Bob’s House, Koda – who often would claim the front seat if he beat me to it – stretched out across the back seat of the van, and Felix snuggled into a blanket on a dog bed. And, Pete, who never found a lap he didn’t like, settled into mine with a contented sigh.
Sadly, all three are now gone, but I’m grateful Bob’s House gave them a home and shared them with me and so many others. And, whenever I smell peanut butter, I can’t help but smile and remember my three furry friends and the joy they brought to so many – cookie or no cookie.
Written by Christena O’Brien, Bob’s House for Dogs Board of Directors