If you have visited Southern Accents in recent years, chances are you’ve been greeted, or checked out, by our resident patrol hound, Bobbie. Most of the locals have passed her on the sidewalk, or witnessed her napping in the window. Over the years Bobbie has mysteriously managed to show up online in some of our pictures… typically hanging out in the background. Most people don’t know where Bobbie came from. They just know that she’s always been around.
The year was 2004. My wife Heather and I were leaving Winn Dixie. We had our newborn son, Tripp with us. It was one of those cold, rainy, miserable nights. As we started to pull out of the parking lot we saw this pitiful looking little dog shivering in the rain. Heather, who has this huge heart, immediately wanted to rescue the dog. I, being the sensible one, did not want a wet, stinky mutt in the car with our baby. Heather insisted that we could not just leave the dog in the parking lot. We finally reached a compromise. I told Heather that if she opened the car door and the dog ran and jumped in her lap that we would take it with us. That wasn’t going to happen of course, after all this was some little mutt that had likely been dropped off, possibly abused, was untrusting of any human at this point in her life and would surely take off running upon being approached. Heather opened the door and sweetly called out to the pup. The dog ran, took one long leap and landed right in the middle of Heather’s lap. She sat there shivering all the way home… to our home.
I’ve never been much of a dog person. Heather had won round one but our home was only going to be a temporary shelter until we could either find the owner or a good home for the dog. We began our search by going door to door in the neighborhood. Surely someone was missing their dog or knew who she belonged to. No such luck. We decided to put an ad in the paper. This would catch someone’s attention. Though no owner came forward, thankfully, we did get a call from a couple of people who said they were interested in taking the dog. I had done my duty. Dog rescued, bathed, fed, and now it was time to send her off to a forever home.
I was having a bad day. Not just any bad day, it was a really bad day. One of those days when nothing was going right and everything went wrong. The day was coming to an end. I was walking through the warehouse, ready to call it quits and head on home. I really just wanted to kick something… maybe it would make me feel better. I looked up and there she stood. As our eyes met she started running towards me. It was like a slow motion moment in a really great movie. Suddenly, she tripped, four legs tangled together, Bobbie started turning end over end…sliding along the warehouse floor. When she finally came to a halt she looked up at me with a ‘let’s do it again’ look on her face! All I could do was laugh. It was the first time I had laughed all day.
When I arrived home that night Heather informed me that she had found someone who wanted to take the dog. She had relented to the fact that I would never allow a dog to become a permanent resident in our home. I quickly informed her that the dog already had a home and was going nowhere. Bobbie wasn’t just any old dog, she was my dog. She’s been faithfully patrolling the grounds ever since. Bobbie will often greet customers at the door, or she may cautiously stand her ground behind the register, but these days she has taken on a new job… Bobbie has become a teacher.
A couple of weeks ago I was at the Gym. The Gym is an old school gym back off a beaten path on the outskirts of town that we use to warehouse our salvaged lumber. It was late in the day and I was headed home. As I walked out to the parking lot I noticed a small puppy standing alone, right in the middle of the lot. He was scrawny, obviously hungry, infested with ticks, best I could tell…only a few weeks old. I offered the pup a drink from a bottle of water I had in my hand and he lapped it up. I picked him up and brought him home. I had already learned my lesson about stray dogs and parking lots. This was a puppy…surely we could find him a home. Heather and the kids helped clean him up. We took him to Mimi’s and she picked off all of the ticks. His next trip was to the vet for an all out checkup. We officially declared that the pup was a chocolate lab. My oldest son Tripp named him Chance… “there’s no chance that Dad will ever let us have another dog”, Tripp declared but his eyes were saying, “please Dad… give him a chance”.
Chance is growing by leaps and bounds, his legs currently longer than his body. He’s awkward, lanky, always ready to play and will chew on anything he can get his teeth around. He’s already outgrown his collar and his bed. Chance has a really good chance of becoming a great dog. He has a good teacher. Bobbie has taken Chance under her wing… uh, paw. Bobbie is smart. She makes her round every day around the whole block but never crosses the road. She’s teaching Chance to do the same. They play together which has been great for Bobbie…she’s not the young pup she used to be. Chance has ignited a new energy in her. Both dogs are currently getting their share of attention from customers. We’ve yet to have a customer walk through the front door of the store and when greeted by Bobbie or Chance not take a few moments to stop and pet the dogs. Many will then proceed to share with us their own dog story. It makes for a lot of smiling, happy customers!
The next time you’re in town, stop by. You too may receive a tail wagging greeting at the door. If not, you’ll be met with smiling faces and a warm welcome. Come on in and grab a bottled coke or ice cold water from our antique coca-cola cooler. Take your time. We have plenty to browse. Maybe you’ll find an old item that will evoke fond memories and stories of your own. If you don’t see Bobbie or Chance… ask about them. We’re sure to have a new story to tell!