Snapshots and Stories:
The Farrington's of Northeast Missouri

 

 

Bob

Five years ago Lee Young and I were sitting in the duck blind discussing the finer points of hunting both waterfowl and upland birds. He suggested that since his pointer Rex had recently died, that I should invest in a suitable animal. Trying to justify my purchase I thought of my youngest daughter, Isabelle, who loves fur, especially on animals, and would love a new puppy.

Frank Farrington training BobAfter a week of trying to locate a suitable sire, I came across a good looking litter and picked out a rather nice looking male puppy. My wife had no idea I was even thinking of getting a dog for the children, let alone for myself. When I brought him home he was small enough to fit into my coat pocket, a great surprise for the girls. Isabelle loved him and decided his name should be Bob.

Bob is a very entertaining and smart dog. I worked with Bob every chance I could, using my hat to teach him how to retrieve. He learned quickly and developed his natural pointing skills quite well. As a hunter, Bob was a very good dog. But his real calling was in the area of smarts. This dog was very intelligent.

At first, Hattie would have nothing to do with Bob, as was with all the animals. She treated him just like any cat, horse or pig, tolerating them but never going out of her way to show affection. Isabelle and Gertrude loved that dog from the very first minute he arrived at our house. Bob got into the habit of walking the children to school every morning, then returning home only to meet them at school for the walk home in the afternoon. How he knew when to meet them I will never know.

One day Hattie couldn’t make it in to the general store for her groceries and I had an appointment coming very soon. I decided to try something with Bob, a bit of a courier system, via dog. Hattie didn’t know what I was doing, only that I would arrange for her goods to be delivered from the store.

Well, I wrapped that meat nice and tight and placed it in Bob’s mouth, telling him to "Go Home, Bob." He trotted down the street toward the house as I went upstairs to call Hattie. To both our amazement, Bob walked straight home, package in mouth, never getting into that meat. I was sure to tell Hattie to give him a little piece of meat for his trouble. From that day on, Bob became our courier of goods, never getting into any wrapped meat. Soon after, Hattie began allowing Bob to sleep on the kitchen floor at night.

At night, when I returned to the office for evening appointments, Bob would escort me. One night someone shouting in the street caught my attention. Curiously opening the window I noticed Bob sleeping in the middle of the street. A passing wagon swerved to miss him and began yelling obscenities at my dog. Bob, never flinching, just went on sleeping. I guess he liked the cool dirt and caught a good breeze in that very spot. Now, people have grown used to seeing Bob in the street sleeping and to this day are careful not to hit him.

Bob is quite the traveler. He oftentimes will go with me on house calls, taking time to "hunt" around while I am with a patient. One day while making a house call, Bob wandered too far. When it came time to return home, Bob did not hear my calls. Instead of waiting for him I simply asked the family to telephone me if he returned.

Later that evening the family called explaining that Bob had just wandered into the house. I asked them to put the phone next to Bob’s ear and said "Bob, I’m home. Come home." Twenty minutes later Bob came walking into our kitchen like nothing was wrong. The family later told me that upon hearing my voice, Bob headed straight for the door and started walking home.

Although he liked rummaging around the horse going to house calls, I believe he really enjoys riding in the Ford. At first I wouldn’t allow him to ride in the car with me, instead making him stand on the running boards.

One day I turned a corner too fast, threw Bob from the car and sent him tumbling into the ditch. Bob learned quick, as always. After a couple of close calls, Bob learned how to balance himself on the running board of that Ford. Our trips soon became a competition between man and beast -- I trying to turn every corner faster than that last, and Bob compensating for the cars movement, never being thrown from the car again.

In later years I allowed Bob to sit up front with me. Maybe it was because I knew I could not throw him. Maybe it was because I wanted him there beside me. In either case, that decision turned out to be a good one late on a foggy evening.

I had been called from one house to another all night long, traveling in the Ford with Bob at my side. The operator would call the home where I was helping a patient and tell me where I needed to go next. Well, the evening finally ended around 1:00 AM as I found myself just north of Lancaster, Missouri, about fifteen miles from home.

The drive started smooth but I quickly found myself dosing off from exhaustion. Mrs. Stapleton had made me some coffee earlier in the evening, but the effects were wearing off as I approached the last five miles of my trip. The road started to get blurry when I noticed Bob licking my face. I refocused on the road to discover that I had almost veered into the ditch. I had been falling asleep when Bob licked my face, getting my attention back on driving. I don’t know how he did it, but he may have saved my life.

Bob was indeed a great companion and intelligent dog. He lived until the ripe old age of 16 years. Isabelle and Gertrude had long since left home when it came time to have the neighbors put Bob to sleep. Our two daughters still living at home, Elizabeth and Elnora Lee, didn’t take too well to the knowledge that Bob was gone. Neither did Isabelle and Gertrude for that matter. Bob was a good dog.

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A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
By Douglas A. Daubert [mail "at" dougdaubert.com]
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