Monday, October 24, 2011

So, what is "Melbotis"?

So, it occurred to me - there's a whole audience out there that doesn't know what the story is with "Melbotis", "The League", why is the house called "League HQ"?, etc...

So, here's the story.

In 2000, Jamie and I moved into a house in South Austin just about the time some friends had broken up and were moving to separate coasts.  Whilst together, they'd taken on a Golden Retriever pup they named "Melbotis".  The name came from an inside joke they had about a couple named "Melba" and "Otis".  I didn't know this until well after they'd handed Mel over to us in the summer of 2000.

The pronunciation is, roughly, "Mel-Boh-Duss".

Right after he came onboard, I took Mel to the vet for his routine check-up, but at his original vet.  I believed his name was spelled "Melbodus", and learned that, no...  it was spelled "Melbotis" while looking at his medical records.

Mel was a big boy.  I think he topped off at 112 pounds before he got put on a diet.  Big, and very happy to try to sit in your lap, or at least get as much into your lap as possible.

He was also oddly smart, and we began to realize his vocabulary was fairly extensive.  He loved to swim, run off the leash, hoard toys and tennis balls, shake, play fetch, do a trick or two, and destroy toys.  He could follow directions and hand gestures, and generally liked being involved in whatever scheme you had going on.

I was 25 when we got Mel, and something about a dog that large that seemed to know his own business meant that I was perfectly comfortable treating him more like a roommate than a pet.  Sure, we fed him and took care of him, but he was given a lot of latitude to just sort of come and go from the house to the yard, get in the car if he felt like it, and just generally hang out.

Mel's Halloween costume circa 2002
Jamie had never had a dog, and suddenly she was faced with this thing as large as herself living in the house. I would not characterize the first year as building a deep emotional bond, but then Jamie's job evaporated, and she spent a few months at home looking for jobs.  And during that time, she and Mel became really good buddies.

In 2002, we moved to Arizona.  For a while I'd made jokes around the house about how we were the "League of Melbotis", and so when I launched a blog in 2003 (this was new stuff back then), that was what I named the site.  You can still see League of Melbotis online.

Back then it was also considered a good idea to remain relatively anonymous online, and so it came to pass that I identified myself as "The League" on the site, I think thanks to a comment or two from JimD.  All that carries over to this day.

In 2006 we moved back, and that Christmas we had a party where JennyP, Mel's original owner, came over.  It was absolutely amazing.  Mel absolutely remembered who she was, and rolled around like a puppy for her.  Something I'd never seen him do with me or Jamie.

On January 2, 2009, after fighting cancer for most of a year, Mel died.

For a while I kept up the site, but at the end of the year, I didn't want to carry on anymore under the banner of "League of Melbotis".  I still loved the fella, but it seemed like a necessary chapter to close.  Between losing Mel and my original intention of writing LoM as my way of communicating back from Arizona to friends across the country...  I was ready to move on to other projects.  By Christmas of 2009, we shuttered League of Melbotis.

A scant few months later, we were back up and blogging under The Signal Watch, which I've always pitched as Volume 2 of League of Melbotis.

The tone is probably a bit less casual around here than what it was in the "what's up, ya'll?" days of LoM.  I tend not to talk politics, trash TV or about just randomness here the way I did there, and who knows if that's for the better.

a boy and his dog

Melbotis was one of the best buddies I ever had.  We had some tough times together, sometimes mine, sometimes his, but like pals, we were in it together.

For those of you who do not know, Jamie has health issues.  This has led to a bumpy road for us from time to time.  And while family love and support have always been in great supply, to be truthful - I had four years in Arizona with me, Jamie and Mel when things sometimes were very bad, indeed.  And in that time, as cliched and silly as it sounds, Mel was around.  I'll be honest, because its fair, and its not the book flap on some best-seller at Target trying to get a movie deal.  Sometimes coming home from the hospital at 3 in the morning, sitting on the sofa with Mel was about the only good thing in a week.

It was a testament to Mel's station with our circle of friends that he had a very well attended little memorial at Zilker Park here in Austin, and that's something I've always appreciated from all of you guys who could come, and who sent in their condolences in the days following his death.

It was very clear to me that whatever I'd said about Mel over the years had let people know exactly how tight Mel and I had been, and so it was amazing to see the emails and comments come pouring in, and for that, ya'll, I'll always be grateful.

I still miss the guy.  We love our two pups we've got now, but its a bit different relationship, is all.   Its hard to match the brains that Mel had, and the odd partnership that was formed.  With Lucy and Scout, its much more puppy and owner, and its great.  But somehow with Mel, likely because we got him as an adult dog, and because we always gave him his space, we managed to work out a pretty good partnership in which we were both convinced the other was the sidekick.

So if I get a little sentimental when it comes to dogs, especially Goldens, that's why.  In a lot of ways, we're still very much The League of Melbotis around here.


mcsteans said...

Aaaaaaand, now I'm crying.

I still miss you, Sunshine.

Emily t. said...

Very sweet.

Dug said...

Mel was a great dog, and I wouldn't call myself a dog person. It was a privilege to be there at the end, even though it was heart-rending.

J.S. said...

Mel was a really good dog. Protective at times, gentle at times, stubborn as hell at times, and, above all, a big ol' animal who loved to be loved. Wonder why he fit in so well in the Steans household...? ;-)

picky said...

I read this post first thing this morning and just thought it was fantastic. What a beautiful, sweet dog.

It is truly amazing how much a good dog can add to your life. Mine always seems to know when I need her to snuggle up next to me.

The League said...

Jamie and I both appreciate the comments and tweets received on this post. I like to know that even three years later, he's remembered and would still be making friends were he still around.

horus kemwer said...

Frankly, I'd always assumed "Melbotis" was a Superman reference I wasn't getting . . . great to finally know the full story.

Still, you'll always be "The League" to me.

Laura said...

Good dog.