Bubba Elvis Gilhooly crossed the bridge due to heart failure on December 15, 2011, with his parents at his side. We thank the staff of the eClinic for their caring support at the end. He will be sorely missed.
Bubba, a black and white parti Cocker mix, was born April 25, 2000 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the son of Romeo and Juliet Pesce. He was well-traveled as a puppy, as he was born in Virginia, drove to New Jersey to meet his new parents and then flew home to Texas before he was six months old.
Bubba was a wedding gift to Kevin and Virginia Gilhooly. Virginia had grown up with dogs in her house, so Kevin agreeing to have a dog was actually written into their wedding vows. As Kevin had agreed to have a dog, Virginia allowed him to choose a name. Kevin chose “Bubba” as a name – which was horrifying to someone from the Northeast. Nevertheless, Virginia soon learned to stand by the back door and yell “Bubba!” without (much) embarrassment. (After Virginia began to groom him at home, the hair on the top of his head became more and more like Elvis’, which gave him his middle name.)
Bubba quickly took over the house after he moved in. He never managed to teach Basil, the English Budgie to bark, although he tried. Virginia learned that having a puppy is not the same as having a dog. Kevin learned patience, although it took time.
Bubba did learn very quickly. He was the only dog in the household that would ring a string of bells on the door when he needed to go out. As more dogs entered the household, he would ring the bells if any of them needed to go out, as well, which prevented any of the other dogs from ever learning this trick. [Years later, Katie would ring the bells when she was bored.]
During his first winter, he had company in the form of Flower Pesce, who lived with Virginia’s Mom in New Jersey. Flower and her Mom came down to escape the cold, so Bubba had a playmate for a few months. When Flower went home that Spring, Bubba seemed very depressed. Virginia and Kevin then decided to adopt another dog, so he would have company. So, Ripley entered the household. Kevin chose Ripley for adoption at a Richardson Humane Society event, although Ripley later decided he preferred Virginia. However, everyone knew he was really Bubba’s dog. (Flower and her Mom eventually moved in permanently.)
Bubba had cherry eye when he was a puppy, and it took five surgeries to repair it. This began his long history of veterinary visits – by the time of his passing, he had an allergist, an opthomologist, a cardiac specialist and multiple “everyday” vets. He had more (and better) specialists than his parents, who are still trying to figure out how to get his doctors to treat them. Amazingly, with all the doctors who would prod and poke him over the years, he loved going to the vet.
Actually, he just loved going for car rides. If Virginia asked him if he wanted to go “bye-bye in the car”, he would run to the back door and whimper until she appeared with a leash and took him to the car. A bonus on the car ride would be anyone standing on a street corner while the car stopped for a red light, since that was someone that could be barked at until the light turned green.
Bubba was the first dog to sleep on the bed in the Gilhooly household, and the first to abandon it. After other dogs joined the house, he decided there was much more room to spread out on the floor, so he gave up his bed privileges for the wide open spaces. (It was probably cooler down there, as well.)
Bubba’s medical history actually helped lead to Murphy joining the family – Murphy had been considered “non-adoptable” because he had dry eye. As Virginia was already applying eye medicine to Bubba’s eyes every day, adopting a dog with dry eye was not an issue.
Bubba had cataract surgery as an adult, but was still mostly blind for the last years of his life. It never seemed to slow him down, although when walking, he did appear to be in a pinball machine at times. He could not find his way around as quickly, unless there was food at his destination.
As he got older, he was taking more and more medications, which eventually required that he be fed more often than the rest of the dogs, just to give him his morning pills. Luckily, he had learned the command “let’s go get coffee” earlier, and knew that meant to go to the kitchen. None of the other dogs ever learned this trick. It started because while Kevin worked at home, he would make coffee every morning before beginning work, and Bubba would go along, because he had also figured out that the cookie jar was near the coffee pot. After a few days, “Let’s go get coffee!” meant “Go to the kitchen and stand by the cookie jar.”
Bubba’s other unusual commands:
“Go in your crate and get a cookie” – the fastest way to get him (and most siblings) in the house and into their crates when his parents needed to go out. Bubba could learn to do anything if cookies were involved.
“Let me see your belly!” – before his allergies were under control, he would have ointment or spray applied to any areas that were broken out. “Roll over” seemed too simplistic, I suppose, so when he was told “Let me see your belly!”, he would roll over and wait for medication.
“I need your eyes” – also medically-minded. Bubba had two or three ointments applied to his eyes each day. He would avoid them at all costs – except if treats were involved. Since his parents couldn’t offer treats without all the dogs volunteering to get eye ointment, Bubba learned that “I need your eyes” meant ointment followed quickly by treats.
In his final days, he was assistant baby-sitter for Caleb Gilhooly, Virginia and Kevin’s grandson. Bubba would guard the baby’s crib whenever Caleb visited, mainly because food would often be tossed out of it. Caleb preferred Bubba over the other dogs because he was the quietest.
He is survived by his siblings, Ripley, Murphy, Katie and Flower, his parents, Kevin and Virginia, and his playmate Caleb.