Hobo Front CoverHow ‘The Hobo and the Dog ‘ originated:  It was in early spring when Taylor came into our life, and in early spring some three years later when her life ended.  She was a four months old golden retriever pup when we got her, and, as far as we knew, perfectly healthy.  We later learned that she might be suffering from some kind of a congenital disorder; at least this is what the doctor suspected. Being an internet puppy from some puppy farm out in Missouri made the doctor even more suspicious. He said this sometimes happens when the parentage is not properly monitored, and that some of those places tend to go for quantity and not quality, which often leads to in-breeding. Still, we had been so pleased with this beautiful pup. She was the typical golden retriever; blond, boundless energy and loaded down with love. In no time at all, she became so much a part of the family! Every morning she was ready for her walk, and every time we went to the store, or even for a drive, she was ready. On the times she had to stay home, she was so disappointed and we felt so guilty in having to leave her. Through those three years, she was such a joy and a part of our life. When she became ill, we did everything we could do to save her life, even putting her under the care of a highly trained specialist, who diagnosed severe kidney failure.  He was only able to prolong her life for a few months. There were days she would try to run and play, but it only lasted for a few minutes. In the end, she just got weaker and weaker, hardly able to even walk across the yard. In her final moments, she could not even drink, so we held her in our arms and Linda Jeanne would put drops of cold water on her tongue. She was holding the dog in her arms when she finally took her last breath. Taylor looked up and moved her mouth as though trying to give one last little ‘woof’, and then she was gone. We were devastated.  No one can really know the hurt and heartbreak of losing a pet unless it is something through which they have gone. We loved this dog so much and resolved to get another, but were hesitant. How could any dog replace Taylor?  We did not start looking immediately because we felt that decisions of this magnitude should not be made so quickly. We bided our time, but then one early morning we picked up the Post and Courier and there was a picture of this golden retriever / yellow lab mixture pup that the local Golden Retriever Rescue had up for adoption.  We had known for a long time about pet adoption centers and animal rescue missions that are active around the country, but it was only then that we realized on a very personal level just how wonderful they are. The John Ancrum SPCA, of Charleston, S.C. , works diligently not only for Golden Retriever Rescue, but most all specific breed groups to find homes for unwanted or homeless pets.  It was this particular  group that came to our rescue and helped us find a new dog. That morning, this picture was in the Feb. 8, 2005 issue of the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

Caryn Rodney, of James Island, S.C., holding the Pup at the Golden Retriever Rescue in 2005


We were not sure that this was the dog we wanted, but five minutes after holding this dog, the decision was made. She was our new dog.  Now, eight years later, here I am with this wonderful dog. She has been such a good pet and, as you see, is a picture of love!

This, however, is only the beginning of the story. When we lost Taylor, our original golden retriever, I was really devastated. But then, along about the time that Taylor died, something else happened that was strange almost beyond belief. Someone dropped a beautiful golden retriever by the road near my place of work. Several people sighted this dog and told me about him. On my way home, there he was, sitting by the road, seemingly waiting for whomever dropped him off to come back. I stopped, but he would not come to me. Still, I returned that evening and brought him food and water. I, and others, fed this dog for several weeks, but he would still not come to us. Sometime during this encounter, I affectionately started calling this dog ‘Hobo’. He would even respond to the name, and would sit back and hold up his paw, but still not come close. It was as though he would not take a chance on love again. It seemed that he was sure that his owners would be back to get him. Then, one day he was gone. I went to the local SPCA, who was also aware of the dog, and they said they heard that he had been hit by a car. To lose a dog, or, for that matter, any pet that you have grown to love, is a truly heart-breaking experience.  Then, since I had developed feelings for this new dog, it was though I had lost two. I then turned to a phenomenon that I have known for a very long time. Writing about a heartbreak or hurt tends to mellow or heal, so I wrote a thirty-some page poem based on this abandoned dog. The title of this poem was ‘The Hobo and the Dog’.  In this poem, a heartbroken man who lost his wife and child simply gave up on life and became a hobo. Somewhere along the way, he teamed up with an abandoned dog and, with the help of the dog, slowly came out of his depression. It was a poem well received by family and friends, but a poem that simply ended up in a box with many of my other poems and stories. Still, this poem never really left my mind, so about three years ago I decided that it was a story waiting to be told.  I had seen the power of pets in helping to comfort and heal so many times down through the years, and this poem provided the perfect structure for the book I wanted so badly to write. If it is that you read this book, you will hopefully find this writer’s compassion for those dealing with special children, such as those having the autism spectrum disorder, Down’s syndrome, etc., but how the presence of a pet often helps. Also, as you get deeper into the book, the power of the pet is emphasized as an important tool in helping Alzheimer’s patients, cancer stricken and other sick children in hospitals, and people suffering from depression.  At any rate, this is how the concept of ‘ The Hobo and the Dog – A Tale of Prayer Pets and Healing’, originated.   Just published in February (Wheatmark), this book is available on Amazon and all the mainline book stores.  


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