Bill’s Story

Bill Story

Bill (aka Turbo, Country Kennels, Lake Villa, IL)

My mom, an avid mystery book reader, had a question for me about a dog character in the book she was reading. Knowing that I knew dog breeds fairly well, she asked me, “What kind of a dog has a head shaped like a football, is short and stocky and would jump through a window to save his master’s life if need be?” I replied that the dog sounded like a Bull Terrier, (although I discovered many years later that the only reason the dog would jump through a window would have been if his owner had a sandwich in her pocket!) Anyway, my mom went on to tell me about this heroic dog in the book and his name was Bill. It was at that moment, that I decided that one day I too, would have a Bull Terrier named Bill. So here it was, many, many years later. My husband had recently passed away from cancer and I had just purchased my first condo and was now ready for Bill. By some strange coincidence, while reading the classified section of the newspaper, I saw the following ad: “Free to good home-Purebred English Bull Terrier”. The ad had a Chicago phone number which I called and a person screened (interrogated) me; from there I was given a suburban number and this person screened (interrogated) me before deciding to give out the address of the “safe house” where the dog was recuperating from emergency surgery. Meatball, as he was called, had been given up by his owners because they were divorcing. Apparently neither party spent all that much time supervising the dog, and after he ingested a few rolls of fiber glass, the breeder stepped in to help re-home him. After meeting with the Bull Terrier breeder and Meatball (and learning more about him), I decided he would not be a good fit, and I sadly made my way toward the backdoor, knowing I would be leaving without my “Bill”. But Bill actually was in this home, in the form of a 4 month old chubby puppy-body. There he was in a crate under the kitchen table, so I asked about him. I learned that he was the “payment” for the stud fee from one of the breeder’s dogs; evidently from champion lines and a possible show potential (even though his teeth were quite crooked). I left that day a  few hundred dollars less in my wallet, but I left with my Bill!

Bill was a “people magnet” because he looked so unusual. The first time my brother met him, he said that Bill looked like a baloney with 4 legs! And it was his odd appearance that attracted so many people to start up a conversation with me. Looking back, Bill was the reason I met so many friends in my new building and the perfect antidote for my grief.

I’ve not seen too many dogs with a sense of humor, but this guy was hilarious, a total clown that was reinforced by laughter. I remember a crazy evening when a friend and I, after way too many drinks in a piano bar, invited the piano player back to my home for more cocktails. Bill (who didn’t need a reason) ran up to the guy and head-butted him, knocking him on the floor. Yes, I have a warped sense of humor and started to laugh hysterically, as did my friend. The more we laughed the faster Bill ran around in circles, each time hitting the guy in the head. Okay, I realize that today this would have resulted in a lawsuit, but back then, the dog’s antics were a twisted form of entertainment and a way to motivate this stranger to leave the house quickly, never to return!

Another time, my brother was dog-sitting at my place while another friend and I were spending the weekend in Lake Geneva. I called home wanting to make sure my brother arrived after work, but he didn’t answer. I called again, and no answer, and then I became worried (obsessive) and I started calling every 10 minutes or so. Finally I reached my sister to find out if she knew where our brother was and it was then that she told me that my brother finally coaxed Bill in the crate after sustaining ripped pants and some bruising on his foot. Apparently Bill was sleeping when the phone rang the first time, and my brother must have startled him out of a sound sleep which agitated Bill. He bit my brother’s shoe preventing him from answering the phone, and each time the phone rang the dog would bite my brother’s pant leg. As I mentioned, I was calling him frequently! And no, my brother never took care of Bill again!

Bill was definitely a character; he had the unique distinction of being able to poop while he was walking or trotting, just like a pony. Most dogs circle and finally squat, but not this guy, which was quite unnerving the day I discovered his “talent”.  While walking through the beautiful lobby of my condo building with Bill, I heard some guy screaming that my dog was pooping. Because Bill didn’t stop to squat, I chocked it up to a sphincter malfunction, that is until the next time it happened!

Bill was my constant companion for 16 years and we racked up lots of memories together. The day he passed away at our vet’s office, my dear friends stood by to support me and say goodbye to their old friend Billy, and when we left, we all sat around and telling personal stories of being with Bill. Whenever I need a good laugh, I recall one of those Bill stories.