My informant comes from a very small and fascinating town in Oregon. The town idolizes this dog named Bobbie the Wonder Dog, and he has become almost a symbol of the town itself. Here is a transcription of her account:
Informant: “So, um – have you seen ‘Parks and Recreation’?”
Me: “It’s my favorite show.”
Informant: “So you know Little Sebastian*?”
Informant: “We have our own Little Sebastian in Silverton. So, this is a real thing – you can look this up and get all sorts of pictures because we have murals dedicated to this creature everywhere. There is a border collie, a dog, uh, called Bobbie the Wonder Dog. It’s a real thing. In like the 1900s or something, it went with its family on a road trip like halfway across the country and got left behind and made its way back to Silverton without them, so it’s considered Bobbie the Wonderdog and we have, like, um, we have a statue to it, uh… in the middle of the town. We have a bunch of murals to it that showcase its journey, and uh we have a Bobbie the Wonderdog Parade. It’s called- its nickname is The Pet Parade, and everybody- it’s generally in May and everybody brings out their pets, which vary from frogs, to goats, to alpacas, uh… horses-”
Me: “No dogs in Silverton. Or cats.”
Informant: “A few dogs. A few cats. But it’s a lot of farm animals. There are some horses too, you know, but um, I feel like goats are like the peak- oh lots of people walk their chickens. That’s a thing too. Or they’ll like take them in the… like, wagons and move them around. And it’s like a big thing like Bobbie the Wonderdog- I took a drawing class, and one of the first things we learned how to do was draw this dog. It was like really important.”
Me: “This is so wholesome, I love it.”
Informant: “Yeah, it’s like on the internet. Bobbie the Wonderdog, Silverton Oregon.”
I love these quirky small town-specific traditions and festivals. They seem so bizarre and difficult to understand for anyone not a native to this small town, but for anyone who grew up in Silverton, Bobbie is just a part of everyday local culture.
*Little Sebastian is a running joke on the NBC television show “Parks and Recreation”. He is a miniature horse that has achieved celebrity status in the small town in which the show takes place, for no reason other than simply existing. Residents lose their minds whenever he makes an appearance at a festival, much to the confusion of characters from outside of the town.