The sad, sad tale of Bubba, the dog-gone dog

Nov. 09, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

We had a friend over for dinner recently, who was visiting from the mountains. Michelle’s a hoot. Before dinner she had a couple of margaritas with us, and told us a story she made me promise not to tell, but I’d had a couple of margaritas, too, so I consider that promise alcohol-induced. 
The reason she didn’t want it spread around was that it was about her husband’s dog, Bubba, and he didn’t know the whole story himself, so all you people who may visit Blowing Rock – ssshhhh!
So, Bubba was a big, old dog and very sick, and although he had been her husband, Bill’s, dog, Michelle had, of course, been the one taking care of him, since she was home with two little ones and had “nothing else to do.” But she did love Bubba. She fed him, walked him, and when he became, as my grandson says, incompetent, she cleaned up after him, sometimes as much as six times a day. And, did I mention this was a big dog? 
Then, he developed a brain tumor and started having seizures, bless his heart, but Bill just couldn’t bear even to talk about putting him to sleep. 
Finally, one day just before Christmas, Michelle came into Bubba’s room and found him on his pillow, gone to doggy heaven. She went to tell Bill, who was hit hard and couldn’t even go look at him. They cried quietly together, and then Bill told Michelle he was sorry, but she’d have to take care of things. She called the vet, who told her it would cost $180 to cremate Bubba down in Hickory, and another $60 to bring the ashes back up here. She said -- and I’m paraphrasing -- %#!$@! They would bury Bubba themselves.
That night, Bill tried to dig a hole for Bubba’s grave, but the ground was rock hard. It was December ... in the mountains. The next day, Michelle went downstairs with two trash bags and confronted a large deceased canine in a state of … well … advanced stiffness. All alone, she wrestled him into the two trash bags, and then she called Bill, who – still unable to look at Bubba -- helped her carry the bagged body upstairs to the back of her Chevy Tahoe. He then told her to do whatever she had to do, just not to tell him about it. Who says men are big babies?
So there was Michelle, in a freezing December in Blowing Rock, with their gigantic deceased dog, Bubba, stiff and frozen, inside two trash bags in the back of her Chevy Tahoe, her 3- and-4-year-old boys buckled into their car seats, totally unaware. 
Now, Michelle is nothing if not your ideal mountain woman – there’s nothing she can’t handle. She called Elvis down at the dump. Elvis isn’t his real name, but his Elvis fixation resulted in the nickname. He wears his hair like Elvis, dresses like Elvis, talks like Elvis, knows everything there is to know about Elvis. He believes Elvis is still alive. 
When Elvis isn’t working at the dump, he works at the Baptist church down the road. One of his most important jobs at the church, besides ground maintenance, is informing the pastor of the sins of his flock, which Elvis has deduced by the things these folks have brought to the dump.  Like a buttoned-up widow-woman everyone knew had brought in four empty liquor bottles, and a married man in the congregation was obviously cheating on his wife, because he threw away several items of clothing that smelled like cheap perfume. Elvis is 38 years old, and wonders why he can’t find a woman. 
So Michelle called Elvis and told him about Bubba, asking if he could help her take care of him very discreetly, because she didn’t want the children to know. He assured her he could take care of it. The boys, Jack and Joey, love visiting Elvis. 
When they arrived, Michelle hailed Elvis, who acknowledged with a solemn nod of his head, climbing into his giant front-loader, and driving right up to the back of the Tahoe.  Michelle got out and opened the back door, and Elvis put the scoop right up to it, then he climbed down and the two of them heaved the bagged body over the rim of the car and into the scooper, but as it rolled, the trashbags came off, just at the moment the boys unsnapped their own seatbelts and turned around. 
Michelle was frantically yelling, “Faces forward, boys! Faces forward!” But, it was too late. The boys had seen Bubba, and began crying and screaming, “Don’t throw him away yet, he’s still good!” 
And, in the midst of all of this, Elvis calmly looked at Michelle, shrugged and said, “Well, ma’am, I guess the cat’s out of the bag – so to speak.”

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at chh@heraldsun.com, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.