Eulogy for a Terrible Dog
“Oh, what a terrible dog. Most fearsome of all the hound dogs. Stinkiest creature that ever did live. Oh, yes.”
These are the words my dad would repeat to the dog when he sat down to pet him. They were a tradition, those words – a saying that had been repeated hundreds of times to not only this dog but to my dad’s childhood dogs, and to his grandfather’s dogs before him. The first dogs who received the terrible dog honor were likely hunting dogs or guard dogs, for whom a level of terribleness was requisite to do their jobs.
Hobbes was only barely a dog, but in his lifetime he strove to reach new and dizzying heights of terribleness. We honor these achievements here today.
It was from auspicious beginnings that Hobbes began his career of terrribleness. The backyard breeding operation that begat him that summer in 1995 was called Kritter Country Kennels, and his parents were a yorkshire terrier named Tuirp and a miniature poodle named Sugar Puddin. (The breeder was in the business of creative spelling as well as designer puppy sales.)
My mom chose the mellowest puppy from the litter, a small black and honey-colored pup, and when we went to pick him up at eight weeks old, we were instead greeted by a rotund ball of a puppy who zinged around the room like a ricocheting ping pong ball. The honey-colored stripe-like markings that had gotten him named after a cartoon tiger were gone, already fading toward black and gray. Fortunately for him, the name stuck anyway – the backup name my mom had chosen was Pooky Pooh Bear.
He threw up on everyone but me on the car ride home. That’s when I knew he was my dog.
Once he was settled in, Hobbes got right to work being as terrible as possible. He learned quickly how to get underfoot in the most surprising ways, and jump over the baby gates we put up to keep him out of certain areas of the house, and pee where no one would find it for a few days. He begged like a pro right out of the gate, and because he shared a house with two sneaky children who adored him, he was usually rewarded for it. It also didn’t hurt that he would eat anything.
Hobbes had a stomach of steel. He very rarely got sick as a young dog, even though he ate anything we gave him. He’d just as easily devour a broccoli heart as two-week-old macaroni from the garbage. If you gave him a sugar-free peach popsicle he’d lie down on the deck with the stick grasped between his paws and lick and gnaw until it was all gone. One time we left a pizza on the kitchen table for five minutes, and when we came back into the room there was a fifteen-pound dog standing on the table and only half a pizza left. Even chocolate didn’t faze him – on his first Halloween, I got half a pillowcase full of candy from trick-or-treating, and the next morning he’d devoured half of it, wrappers and all. When my brother and I got Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans for Christmas, we carefully fed the suspicious looking ones to Hobbes, and he gleefully ate every one.
In those early years, there was only one thing I ever saw make Hobbes sick, and true to form, he got sick in the most inconvenient way he could muster. He turned over the garbage to devour a wad of bacon grease-soaked paper towels, and after a few hours of failed digestion, threw up seventeen times in one day. It was both impressive and horrifying.
Hobbes enjoyed a long, lazy life. He slept in my and my brother’s beds. He went with us to visit relatives and got to eat cups full of vanilla ice cream from the McDonald’s drive through to keep him from whining the whole trip. He was fiercely defensive of “his girl,” to the point where if someone else poked me, he would howl piteously until they stopped (which was a fun game to play until someone got a headache). He loved being sung to, and he loved being read to, even if he did glare at me when I play-fenced my way through Inigo Montoya and Count Rugen’s final confrontation. He was happiest around people, and I think the day he moved from my mom’s big empty suburban house into my college bungalow overcrowded with five roommates was truly the happiest day of his little dog life. Especially since soon after moving in, he found one roommate’s dirty underwear to eat.
Hobbes loved making friends. He had a stuffed teddy bear slightly bigger than himself that he’d drag out whenever I had guests, to show them how well he could hump its ear from beneath. Then he’d lick the insides of their shoes when they weren’t looking, and breathe the foul, Lovecraftian scale Stink of his mouth into their faces as they were trying to eat. For a while before his last teeth cleaning, I just couldn’t have people over for dinner; they’d lose their appetites when Hobbes came within ten feet of them. And he loved being close to people, too – especially if he was sharing a bed with you, in which case he’d curl up close to your lower back and push so hard you’d find yourself half on the floor. I bought a queen sized mattress specifically so he wouldn’t be able to push me off it, and yet somehow, this small dog managed to take up 3/4 of the space anyway.
A firm believer in the value of education, Hobbes continued his studies well into his golden years. His chosen field was poop. This dog was a veritable Giving Tree of poop. Our former neighbor, a veterinarian, once told me he pooped more than any other dog she’d ever met. I think this comment gave Hobbes the encouragement he needed to pursue his Master’s degree in pooping, which he achieved last summer. He never mentioned his accomplishment – never one to brag, I guess, unless he had defeated a pop bottle in combat – but I knew because the digestive incident that could only be his thesis project forced me to throw away a rug, a towel, a pillow, and my favorite summer shoes. Once he’d completed his studies in poop, Hobbes went on to take some sort of correspondence course in licking his own junk, but he never completed it.
Last November, Hobbes grew a tumor on his side. I almost didn’t catch it because in his old age he’d amassed such a collection of warts, fatty deposits, and benign cysts that petting him was like petting a furry Lego. But when this latest lump started growing rapidly, I had the vet check it out, and she confirmed that it was stage three or four cancer. Hobbes had surgery to remove the tumor and lived to stink up my life for four more months. He died this afternoon,
peacefully with his characteristic degree of melodrama, with his family at his side, leaving behind a legacy of foul smells.
Often people don’t understand the love I have for this dog – he’s cute, but not enough to make up for his general awfulness. For instance, he peed on me as I was carrying him down the stairs a while back. Peed. Right down my front. And he didn’t even seem sorry about it. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I love this terrible dog as much as I do. Owning him has been a lesson in unconditional love. And in patience. And in poop. Boy, did he teach me a lot about poop. I wonder if he intended to teach when he started his degree.
Oh, Hobbes, what a terrible dog you were. Most fearsome of all the hound dogs. Stinkiest creature that ever did live.
Hobbes “Pooky Pooh Bear” “Mooch” “Junior Beer Bottle” “Dust Mop” “Cap’n Fuzzy” “Hotdog Bun” “Hobbeser Bobbser Boo” “Twit” “Puddin’ Duster” “Wonder Woof” “Mutton Chops” “Fuzz Face” “Fuzz Butt” “Butt Face” “Dumb Butt” “Dust Bunny” “Muppet” “Curmudgeonly Muppet-dog” “Hobbles” “Little Poop Machine” “Little Shit” “Little House” “Stinky” “Boo” “Bud” “Mr. Dog” “Sir” “Doggawog” “Wiener Pig” “Chocolate Bear” “Monkey Face” Lorenz
June 6, 1995 – April 1, 2011