Lincoln family writes ‘autobiography’ of their beloved dog to benefit Capital Humane Society
They came to adopt a golden retriever.
The CEO of the Capital Humane Society had called Deane and Gerry Finnegan with the tip, knowing they loved the good-natured breed.
Hurry, Bob Downey told them. This puppy won’t be here long.
So Deane and Gerry hurried.
They sat down in the adoption center’s visiting room to wait, but a golden retriever didn’t show up when the door opened.
“They brought in this crazed black-and-white dog who walked around on the chairs,” Deane says. “I mean, this dog was nuts.”
Skinny. Sort of homely.
Deane looked at Gerry. Gerry looked at Deane.
No one is going to adopt this guy, Gerry told his dog-loving wife.
The crazy dog — part border collie and part black lab and who knows what else — went home with the Finnegans and proceeded to live up to his chair-walking reputation. He learned to open the microwave and the oven. He brought a possum home for dinner and ransacked dresser drawers.
He ate watermelon rinds and corn cobs and the frozen Christmas lasagna.
They named him Bodie. Bo-D. For Bob Downey, the man who gave them the opportunity to love the one-time stray whose mission in life was to find more food.
“He knew that dog wasn’t going to be adopted if we didn’t take him,” Deane says. “Bob is not dumb.”
When Bob hears this bait-and-switch version of events — nearly 10 years after that 90-pound mutt went home with the Finnegans — he claims to not remember the details, but he doesn’t dispute them, either.
Last Thursday, he gratefully accepted a signed copy of a book from Bodie’s people, featuring the only adopted humane society animal (that he knows of) that was named in his honor.
Bob says he’s looking forward to reading “The True Adventures of Me, Bodie.”
Although he’s probably heard most of the stories contained in its 92 illustrated pages.
“Every time I saw them, they were telling me about the different things Bodie had done.”
* * *
Bodie went over the Rainbow Bridge last year, it says so right there in the introduction to his life story, written by Deane and her grandson, Cooper.
Cooper is 13. He loved Bodie, too, and when Bodie got old and arthritic and died, he thought they ought to do something to properly remember the dog and his antics.
One day, Cooper came to visit his grandparents. He was missing Bodie.
Of course, you miss him, his grandma said. He was one of a kind. You could write a book about that dog.
Cooper’s face lit up.
LET’S WRITE A BOOK ABOUT BODIE.
So they did.
The book was going to be short, the Scott Middle School eighth-grader says. His grandma would write the words and he would illustrate Bodie’s adventures.
But there were so many Bodie stories.
It took more than a year of writing and drawing and collecting Bodie pictures and finding a publisher.
“I thought we’d just type it up, staple it together and give it to family,” Deane says.
But like many ideas, this one evolved.
They got busy. Sometimes they met on Saturday mornings, but mostly on Tuesdays after Cooper got out of school.
Deane wrote the words on Bodie’s behalf. Which means the book is an autobiography, told in the voice of its subject: “One afternoon I looked down at my food bowl and saw nothing but kibble. I wanted some crackers, Hawaiian King Rolls, peanut butter or liverwurst. I wondered if I could get Gerry or Deane to give me something I wanted. So I lay down and looked sad. It didn’t work.”
Cooper reviewed those stories. He made suggestions. He created illustrations with colored pencils. They found photos of Bodie and his dog friends. (A good friend named Mari Lane Gewecke had collected Deane’s tales of Bodie’s adventures on Facebook and sent them her way when the project began.)
When the book was finally finished, Deane and Cooper went together to visit Infusionmedia, a local publisher (which patiently answered a grandma and grandson’s many questions) and, a few weeks ago, the first batch of “The True Adventures Of Me, Bodie” was delivered.
Bodie grins a dog grin from the cover.
Cooper’s last drawing features a black-and-white dog crossing a rainbow-colored bridge.
Deane wrote a final farewell for the dog that drove them crazy. The dog they loved so well.
“I have lived with Deane and Gerry for many years now. I like it here, and I love my people. I am officially a good dog. But it hurts me to stand up. I can’t run anymore, and I’m not hungry. I am tired. I know it’s my time. ...”
* * *
After Bodie died, a pair of middle-aged golden retrievers arrived at the shelter, and Bob Downey knew just who to call.
On July 31, 2017, Deane and Gerry welcomed Hunter and Lakyn to the home Bodie once ruled.
Lakyn still lives with his people; Hunter got cancer and left for the Rainbow Bridge this fall.
The humane society CEO says 3,000 animals — mostly dogs and cats — find new homes each year. Another 1,500 are reunited with their owners.
He loves hearing their stories.
“You realize that a dog is in a good place and you realize the positive impact that a dog has had in their lives and how it has changed their lives.”
Take a dog named Bodie, for instance, and a couple named Gerry and Deane.
“Any dog that ends up in the Finnegan household is a lucky dog.”
* * *
All profits from the sale of Bodie’s book will go to the Capital Humane Society.
The first printing has sold out, but new copies are on order and Bodie’s managers have an email address if anyone would like one: email@example.com