Clown’s dog has zest for clean, folded laundry
By Jack Kintner
Bob and his wife Susie Fordyce have an unusual dog, a yellow female lab named Butter who likes to retrieve laundry.
Butter’s partner, a male golden retriever named Peanut that they got as an 11-week old puppy in Agassiz, B.C., doesn’t participate. Butter was already three to four years old by the time she came to live with the Fordyce’s. Peanut’s now six and Butter’s about nine or 10.
“It started last winter,” said Fordyce, 62, “and I still haven’t discovered the source for most of the clothes she’s brought home.” He said he’s made repeated visits to all his neighbors “within a 15 minute dog walk” of their five acres near the Haynie Grange.
“Most of the neighbors have been quite understanding and have seen the humor, including one family who claimed some, but not nearly all, of the clothes,” Fordyce said, adding that those belonged to a son who had outgrown them and has moved out of the area.
“But that only accounts for a third or less of the stuff,” he continued, “which leaves a very large garbage bag’s worth of clothes we can’t account for.
“When she began doing this it was generally about nine or 10 at night. She’d make a little 15-minute circuit and bring some uni-sex gym clothes home, first just into the yard, then into the house and finally into her bedroom.”
Fordyce explained that the master bedroom is definitely hers, “and we’re there by invitation only,” he grinned, adding that Butter is quite serious about the arrangement.
The clothes were all freshly laundered and had all been folded before Butter brought them home. Fordyce said that when he was unable to find where they came from most were donated to local charities such as the Blaine clothing bank.
“At first she did this every two or three days,” he said, “but now it’s just occasionally, like every few weeks.” He said he’d still like to find the source, but for now is content to collect the few remaining trophies Butter brings home and keep them until it’s time to make another donation.
Fordyce’s sense of humor may have something to do with his avocation of clowning.
His alter ego is that of “Dr. Stuffed Shirt,” a know-it-all whose costume includes a hat made out of an old computer hard drive.
A 32-degree Mason and a Shriner, he uses his clown persona in events put on by the benevolent society primarily in the Vancouver area. Proceeds go to support one of the 13 children’s hospitals the Shriners have in North America.
“I’ve had a lot of help building the clown character from [Blaine physician] Dave Allan,” Fordyce said, “who’s a very good doctor, much better than one might expect to find in such a small town.”
Fordyce is a St. Louis native, “raised in the era of Red Schoendienst and Stan Musial,” both hall-of-fame members of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball teams of the ’50s and early ’60s.
A law school graduate, Fordyce was a mortgage broker and investment advisor in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 25 years. After a long period of time as a single parent he met his wife Susie, a high school teacher and librarian, on a blind date.
The two moved to Blaine “on Thursday, July 23, 1998 at 2:15 p.m.” he said, “because it’s the northwest, and after driving through Seattle traffic we knew we didn’t want to be there.”
arriving in Blaine he spotted Charles Gibson, pastor of
Blaine’s Northwood Alliance church, “and
knew I’d seen him before.”
It turns out that Fordyce had performed as a clown at Gibson’s previous posting, director of the New Mexico Boys Ranch.
“We’d be out there at Christmas parties,” Fordyce said, “but there never was enough time to talk until now.”
Fordyce, who still offers financial advice and is still an active clown, continues to look for the owners of the clothes his dog brought home. For more information, contact Fordyce at firstname.lastname@example.org.