It’s been a long time now since Scooter fell in love with Rover. I know this because all the photographs we have of the two of them are from Hubby’s 35 mm camera, which gave us slides and prints instead of .jpg files. I realized this when I tried to find a digital picture to attach here.
Scooter was our daughter’s dog, an Australian Shepherd with a friendly face, one blue eye and one brown, and a fluffy skirt that deposited hairy residue everywhere she went. Rover was a car, an English Rover with flat tires, unstuffed upholstery, a rusty faded red paint job, and a strong likelihood of never running again.
In all the years we had her, Scooter never stopped racing around, ready to play at a moment’s notice. A typical Frisbee-type dog. She loved unconditionally—almost. (She wasn’t fond of uniforms, especially if a hat and sunglasses were involved.) But she really loved Rover, whose level of activity was considerably less than her own.
Rover came into our lives one year when Hubby unfortunately expressed a desire to go look at a car he found in the want ads. This was something that came over him every once in a while, and we normally managed to escape without spending any of our meager funds. Sort of like going to garage sales, old car shopping was just a pleasant way to spend some time. He’d say things like, “Oh, too bad we can’t afford that,” and “It wouldn’t take much to get this one running,” and “I wouldn’t mind having one of these some day.” I’d pat his arm and say, “Sure, someday, dear.”
That year the car in question was the old Rover. We drove down to Seal Beach to take a look at it, even though the ad did say NOT RUNNING and some other small disclaimers. We got out of our car and walked around the Rover, and when we left it was with the same old conversations. The kicker in all this was that this time his birthday was coming up (I never knew what to buy him; he’s one of those) and the Rover was priced at only $50. This was about $49 over its real value, I guess, but I couldn’t resist.
I secretly arranged with the seller to hold Rover for me. I paid the man, and on the pretext of birthday present shopping, went back down there and tarted up the present with ribbons and tempera paint and balloons from bumper to (missing) bumper. It was a sight to behold.
The night of Hubby’s birthday, we loaded up the kids and my mother and left home for birthday dinner at a surprise restaurant. “Left turn here.” “Right at the next signal.” “You’re gonna love this place, honey!”
I have to tell you right here that Hubby is not fond of surprises at the best of times. He went along with the program, though, and everything was fine—until we left the commercial district and started down a residential street he knew well, having driven it just the day before to reach the old car.
“Oh, no! You didn’t!” It wasn’t joy I saw in his face. More like panic. But we were committed, and when we rolled up and spotted the bedecked wreck in the driveway, he did his best to act as if he were pleased, all the while hunching himself down as far as possible in the driver’s seat..
Well, maybe “pleased” is pushing it.
We got the car towed home the next day, though, and plopped it in our back yard. It made a rather strange yard sculpture, but it made a great, if unintended, doghouse.
Scooter fell in love with the big reddish thing right away. After a few minutes of surveying this new addition to the family, she decided that this was her new home, her new plaything, her new friend.
Scooter and Rover both stayed with us for several more years. On warm summer days, we’d look out the back windows and see Scooter splayed out on top of the car, enjoying the sun as much as any California beachgoer. She’d climb in the windows and gnaw on what was left of the seats. She left bundles of skirt hair all over Rover, who didn’t seem to mind a bit. If Scooter’s affection was not reciprocated, at least it was tolerated.
Eventually, we lost the dog. She was fourteen years old when she died, and I’d swear that a lot of her happiest days were spent in and on the old Rover. There wasn’t much fun in keeping the car; we gave it away and the back yard turned into just another back yard again.
I always said I’d write the story of Scooter and Rover one day. I think maybe a blog is just about the right place to do that, even without pictures..
I’ll see you again, after the commercial.