Dog lovers in Garden Oaks and Oak Forest might be worried about Bob, the elusive and skittish stray who has attained celebrity status in the adjoining Northwest Houston neighborhoods. The black Labrador mix with a lopped-off tail has made regular appearances in those communities since 2015 – with residents often reporting their Bob sightings on social media – but he stopped coming around in February.
Concerned citizens will be glad to know Bob is doing OK – better than that, even. He finally found a forever home, along with companionship.
Garden Oaks resident Linda Sparks, who has kept tabs on Bob and cared for him since he started visiting her street, said he has been staying at a spacious scrapyard north of Pinemont Drive. That’s where he had been spending his nights, and now he’s there all the time.
Bob hasn’t left, Sparks said, because he’s become such good pals with a pit bull named Rowdy who was taken in by the same scrapyard owner earlier this year.
“He’s happy there,” Sparks said. “I am ecstatic. It’s what I always wanted for him.”
Two other animal advocates in the area also are glad for Bob, whose case has been equal parts unique and remarkable. He enjoys being around people but also has an aversion to human contact, with Sparks saying she’s never been able to touch him even though she’s fed him and given him medication and he listens to her commands.
Tara Pisegna with the Animal Justice League and Oak Forest resident Melinda Gleghorn, a co-founder of the local nonprofit who no longer is affiliated with it, both said it’s unusual for rescuers to allow dogs to remain strays. But that was the consensus with Bob, partly because attempts to trap him were unsuccessful and also because he’s unadoptable.
In a sense, though, he had been adopted by a community that allowed him to keep coming around. Along with snapping photos of him that were shared on Facebook over the years, area residents such as Sparks regularly left out food and water for Bob.
“He really has touched a lot of people’s hearts, because everybody wanted him,” Gleghorn said. “But he’s just meant to be that rolling stone.”
Bob’s place in the neighborhood became a hot-button issue in April of last year, when a Garden Oaks resident wrote in a Facebook post that Bob had shown aggression toward her children and suggested he be removed from the area. That did not happen, though, and Sparks and Gleghorn said there have been no more incidents like that.
Sparks, who is retired, said she kept a close eye on Bob to make sure. If children were playing outside when he was on the block, Sparks said she would instruct him to walk to the end of the street or take shelter in a culvert.
“I was never going to run him off,” Sparks said. “I was never going to abandon that dog.”
All the while, the Animal Justice League, which considers Bob an outreach dog, helped supply food as well as heartworm and flea medication that it gave to Sparks to give to her favorite stray pooch. She said the owner of the scrapyard also supplies food for Bob, even bringing him table scraps from time to time.
The Animal Justice League also is covering the cost to have Rowdy, Bob’s new buddy, neutered in two weeks. Bob already is neutered, and Sparks said doing so to Rowdy will help ensure that the former stray does not wander away from the property. Because if Rowdy were to leave, Sparks suspects Bob would follow him.
“Rowdy is the key to the whole thing,” she said.
Facilitating a permanent place for Bob to stay has coincided with an effort to support the Animal Justice League. Because her recent Facebook posts about Bob’s living situation prompted an overwhelming response from the community, Sparks said she asked those residents for $1 donations to the Animal Justice League, saying she would match donations up to $300.
Within a couple days, $600 had been raised for the organization. Pisegna said the money is being earmarked for Bob and his needs, unless Sparks asks them to use it to help other animals.
Sparks said the nonprofit has seen a drop in donations during the COVID-19 pandemic and needs more support from the community.
“That’s huge,” Pisegna said of the $600 donation.
Sparks joked that it’s only fair for her to use Bob as a fundraising tool, because, “Bob’s used me for years.”
Gleghorn said Sparks’ connection with Bob is evident, because he gets noticeably excited when he sees her. Sparks said she pays regular visits to Bob at the scrapyard.
She wishes she could have bonded with him in the typical way that humans connect with canines, because Sparks said she would have taken him in herself. But helping Bob find a more suitable home was the next-best solution.
“Bob’s suite looks like a little movie star trailer or something. He’s got beds and nice bowls,” Gleghorn said. “He lives a pretty sweet life over there.”