By John Forsythe
To call him a dog seemed to hardly do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs and a tail, and he barked, I must admit he was, to all outward appearances, a dog. But, to those of us who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.
Only a few of the dogs it has been my pleasure to know well have been possessed of the calm but proud personality of Hobo, a little brown fellow of unknown ancestry. Although his small size and sharp nose hint at grandparents who might have been terriers, or possibly a Chihuahua or two in his background, the dark brindle markings across his back were likely inherited from a more robust bulldog ancestor.
Hobo came to live with his owners in Alpine largely because of a case of mistaken identity. Another puppy named Nacho, who had been the delight of the household for a considerable time, disappeared from the back yard one night. Nacho’s desperate owner, Margaret Shugart, put up fliers around town and searched for him for days. But it was only after all hope for finding the dog had been abandoned, not until after Margaret had moved from Alpine, that a neighbor told Margaret’s dad, Brian, that he’d seen Nacho a few hours before. Nacho had been hiding in some bushes and searching for scraps behind the Sonic drive in.
Brian quickly went to get the dog and take him back home, but instead of Nacho he found a different little brown dog with brindle stripes who was so much like Nacho in size and age and appearance that the two pups could only have come from the same litter. Resigned to the loss of Nacho, Brian took pity on the new pup, who he promptly named Hobo in recognition of the life the dog had been leading. Hobo was taken home to start a new life that must have seemed literally like heaven after being rescued from the streets. Hobo had won the lottery!
His wonderful new home included two cats who Hobo loved to chase through the house, sliding around the corners on hardwood floors, although after one horrible, memorable incident he’s always been careful to not actually catch the cat named Tummy. There was also a large Siberian Husky named Moondrop to play with, who instantly became Hobo’s adoring slave and favorite chew toy. The two dogs became so close that it’s entirely possible Hobo came to believe he was also a Husky.
These days Brian and Hobo often go for long walks around Alpine, making the rounds to visit with several of Hobo’s many admirers, and giving them a chance to scratch his back. Sometimes the two of them leave the house for these walks through the backyard to take a short cut through the alley, where they’re often joined by the neighbor’s yellow tabby cat, who likes to follow along for several blocks. On one of these walks an Alpine police cruiser pulled up to the curb, next to the three of them. The cat took off running for the nearest tree as the window rolled down and the policeman, a stranger, greeted Hobo by name before traffic backed up behind the squad car and he drove away. This really surprised Brian, since to this day he has no clue how the policeman could have gotten to know the dog.
Though he’s still spry and active, Hobo is getting on in years, and his muzzle is going gray. Brian has decided to forego a trip to Australia to stay home and spend time with him, so that among other things, he and Hobo can practice their duet of “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain.” Hobo loves to sing and howl along with Brian, and he carries a tune enthusiastically, if not too well. To see these two with their heads tossed back and holding forth is to witness the complete, joyous abandon akin to a ten-year-old child at play who lives deep within each of us.
And what became of Hobo’s brother, Nacho? Somehow he ended up in Fort Stockton, where he, too, was abandoned to the streets before he was finally rescued. It’s been reported that he has been seen in the care of a loving family, in a large and comfortable home, once again in Alpine.
To contact Hobo, please email author [email protected]