Fair warning, readers! This is a sad one. Definitely tugs at your heartstrings. Sometimes better than than the boy meets girl stories are the man meets best pal dog stories, and here’s one of’ ‘em for ya by the late, great Brian Jacques, author of Redwall, a reading from his Jakestown radio program on BBC Merseyside. Have a listen and a read…and get those tissues ready!
Bobby, by Brian Jacques
Now, looking back, he could remember the first time
He had ever seen Bobby.
It was a bitter winter night in min-January.
He’d been coming home from the pub,
The snow was being driven into drifts by a howling wind.
Ice made the pavement slippery underfoot.
It wasn’t a fit night for man nor beast to be out in.
Yeah, that’s when he’d first met Bobby.
The dog had followed him, slinking and cringing,
Always about ten feet behind him,
Right from outside the alehouse, along the main road, and up the street
He stopped and turned to get a good look at it.
It was only a puppy, really, about four months old.
Its tail and ears drooped in the wind-driven whiteness.
It wasn’t a particularly good looking hound, either.
A little mongrel, no pedigree,
Just the usual 57 varieties.
Probably it had been given to some kid as a Christmas present
And slung out unwanted, when the holidays were over.
He’d stared at the dog; the dog had stared back at him.
It took a pace backward, as if expecting him
To aim a boot at it.
Poor little beggar.
You could have played “Rule Britannia” on its ribs.
“Here ya are, come on old fellah.”
He crouched in the snow, held out his hand
To the freezing, half-starved pup.
It hesitated a second.
Then, as if it sensed everything would be okay,
It shook its head, wagged its drooping tail,
And trotted slowly up to him.
He patted it, and scratched behind its ears as he talked.
“Hello there, old fellah- where you from?
Been slung out, have ya?”
The puppy came closer into him,
As if he could protect it
From the cold, hostile world.
That was a lot of years ago now.
He’d taken the puppy home with him,
And named it Bobby.
Not for any particular reason, other than
It looked like a Bobby,
And always came when the name was called.
It was a good little dog,
Quite clean, and didn’t need a lot of looking after, either.
One decent meal a day and a bowl of water-
Oh, and a saucer of tea every morning-
Proper ole fashioned, Bobby was.
Always liked his saucer of tea with his dad.
You know, when you come to think of it, he thought,
It wasn’t much.
A bit of scoff, and a drink.
Somewhere warm and dry for it to kip every night.
But the returns he got from that dog Bobby!
It had been a companion
Always ready to wag its tail and be stroked.
And if he ever felt depressed or fed up,
There was Bobby, gazing at him with those
Soft, gentle dog’s eyes,
The old tail going twenty to the dozen.
It never failed to cheer him up.
Bobby was his mate.
Someone he could tell his troubles and his dreams to.
But Bobby had been dead about six months now.
They’d been inseparable, went everywhere together.
What was it that fellah had said in the pub?
“Dogs are only animals and they haven’t got a soul.”
He smiled to himself, and thought
Just shows how much that fellah knows,