Down Memory Lane

I have been blessed to share my adult life with seven wonderful dogs – one mixed breed and six Golden Retrievers.  Fourth in line was a most memorable boy named Hobo, who arrived at my doorstep in November 1999, the last of 20+ dogs I fostered for DVGRR pre-Gateway.

I already had two dogs in permanent residence and three was more than I normally handled. No other foster homes were available, however,  so I agreed to take in this senior gent found wandering somewhere in a nearby county.

Health-wise, twelve-year-old Hobo was a disaster.  His vision was nearly gone, he had at least two malignant mast cell tumors that had been deemed inoperable, and he suffered from severe heart disease.  I always suspected he’d had some head trauma long ago too, as – well, let’s just say he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier (or however that saying goes….)!  Still, he was sweet and gentle, though with a surprisingly strong stubborn streak that manifested itself generally when his jaws of steel clamped down on some inappropriate object.

Hobo loved riding in the car.

Hobo loved riding in the car.

Hobo’s vision deficits made him very anxious in new surroundings, and he’d often resort to what I called “perimeter pacing” – plodding continuously around the inside walls of an unfamilar room, perhaps to gain a sense of its size and layout.  At home he could be restless too, though he never needed guidance maneuvering around my furniture and even mastered the stairs – both up and down.

His favorite place in the world was lying next to my chair as I worked on the computer at night. We’d go into the guest room/office and his whole demeanor would instantly change to one of relaxation and calmness. “Let’s go up to the ‘tranquil room,’” I’d tell him, and he’d gratefully follow me to the computer and chair, plopping down with a thud and contented sigh.

You needed a sense of humor to live with Hobo, who had a real knack for embarrassing me.  Among his many exploits:

  • Striding along at the end of his Flexi-leash on a walk and suddenly colliding with a parked car, setting off the car’s strident, insistent alarm. (We hightailed it out of there, feigning innocence at the commotion.)
  • Accompanying me to my sister’s house at Thanksgiving that year and letting loose right in the center of her kitchen with a seemingly endless stream of urine, splashing all over the floor.
  • Eating everything in sight (despite, or maybe because of, his near blindness), including assorted pieces of my underwear. (Of course, I could have kept that little tidbit to myself, but it made for a good story…..)
Hobo in the tranquil room

Often uncomfortable in new surroundings, Hobo was most at home and most relaxed lying by my chair in the “tranquil room.”

So why the sudden nostalgia for my Hoboguy, you might ask? Well, when I learned that TV personality Carol Erickson had been confirmed to attend this year’s Golden Gala (DVGRR’s premier fundraising event on June 10), I immediately flashed back to a Sunday morning in May 2000 when Carol and the infamous Hobo got to know each other.

By that time, Hobo had been with me in foster care for over six months. Ginny Duffy, who was the Adoption Coordinator at that time, had received an invitation to be interviewed by Carol during the Sunday am weather show and to bring one of the adoptable Goldens along with her. She asked to bring Hobo and I agreed, though with a fair amount of trepidation…

First, since the show would be broadcast live from Philadelphia and they needed to arrive very early, Hobo would have to spend the night before at Ginny’s home, which was much closer to the city than mine. I could visualize all the “perimeter pacing” he was going to do there, not to mention possibly christening the kitchen as he had done at my sister’s house!

Second, and most worrisome, I had no idea how my goofy boy would conduct himself on live TV. Given his track record of mortifying me at the most inopportune times, I could only envision what havoc he might unintentionally wreak as he “represented” DVGRR.

Back to 2012…as I recalled this long ago weekend, and my sitting in front of the TV that Sunday morning with heart in mouth, I wondered if I still had the video I’d taped of the show. An exploration of my basement turned up the “VHS morgue” that you probably have as well, with old unused videotapes piled askew on a shelf. Lo and behold, there it was…an unmarked tape with a pink sticky note still attached, reading simply “Hobo”.

Found it!

Found it!

I  popped it into the VCR (yes, I still have one, also in the basement), and smiled as I remembered how proud I’d been of my silly, sweet Hobo. Watch and see for yourself by clicking here:    Hobo with Carol Erickson on KYW

[Note: I apologize for the poor video quality…this is a camcorder recording of the VHS tape playing on my TV. Low tech, but not too bad!]

Of course, I believe Ginny was surreptitiously feeding tons of treats to Hobo to keep him from getting too restless, but no matter…my boy rose to the occasion and I couldn’t have been happier.

A few days later, I signed the adoption papers for Hobo and he officially became Hobo Baker. As you may have guessed, the “adopter” mentioned in the video was me. When Ginny asked to use Hobo for the interview, I got a pang in my heart imagining that someone would see him and want him. I realized what I had known all along but hadn’t acknowledged yet to myself — Hobo wasn’t going anywhere…he was already home and I could never part with him. I let him go on the air only on the condition that Ginny make it known he was spoken for!

Hobo lived for another fifteen months, until July 2001. He taught me about courage and patience and not to take life too seriously. Oh, and make sure you always have a “tranquil room” in your home to escape to.

Hobo’s brick in DVGRR’s Rainbow Bridge Memorial Garden, a gift from his TV comrade and my good friend, Ginny Duffy.

It’s clear from Hobo’s one and only TV debut that Carol Erickson sure is one big-hearted, thoroughly engaging dog lover. She was in 2000 and she still is in 2012! I’m so looking forward to seeing her at the Gala and asking her if she remembers my Hobo disrupting her weather report all those years ago. Please come too and meet her in person!

The Gala will be on June 10 at the lovely Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, PA. It’s great fun for all and helps bring needed funds to DVGRR for all those Goldens who followed in Hobo’s paw prints. Hope to see you there!


P.S. Many thanks to all who gave me such a warm welcome on starting this blog after my first post — your comments and support are very much appreciated!


13 comments on “Down Memory Lane

  1. Tammy H says:

    Oh Donna, what a sweet, sweet boy! Thanks so much for sharing his memories!

  2. Julie Rudolph says:

    I just love the way your words tell a great story!! You have found another way to help the Goldens you love so much! I can’t wait to read more and help any way I can also.

  3. steveja102 says:

    What a great look back at life with a senior golden…..thanks for sharing the video!

  4. Bill & Mary says:

    Absolutely first rate!
    People really need more factual information about the senior golden adoption program.
    PS: Brandy & Samantha are absolutely wonderful!!!

  5. Meghan Rosser says:

    what a sweet story Donna, and truly shows the happiness that rescuing/fostering (which sometimes leads to adopting) can bring both the owner and the dog. I love all my rescues, and only wish i had more room to spare so i could have more! I love this story!

  6. Ellie McCaffrey says:

    That was a great walk down memory lane for you. Brought tears to my eyes thinking of the dogs in my past.

  7. Shirley Zenyuch says:

    Great story! Older dogs have so much to give.

  8. Patricia Dareneau says:

    Great job Donna. You’ve found a niche

  9. Barb B says:

    Donna, How fondly I remember sweet Hobo! It was great to see him again. Thanks for sharing:)

    • Donna Baker says:

      Remember the time he stayed with you for a weekend? I was so nervous then that he’d do something embarrassing as well. As I recall, he behaved himself pretty well, though my memory may be a bit foggy!

  10. Linda Rosato says:

    This story brought a tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.

  11. Kathy Gardosh says:

    Oh Donna, this was a great story. Such fond memories of a beautiful white faced boy. Thanks for sharing!

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