Pet Spotlight:

Butter the Family Dog


Contrary to popular belief, English professor Julie Bates’s part-Husky-part-Yellow Lab mix Butter Bates isn’t named after the South Park character Butters. Nor is he named after the food. Butter got his name through Bates’s husband. In his high school years, his friends have said he was “as smooth as butter.” He said to Bates that if they got a dog, Butter was going to be the name.

And so, the Bates clan of two (at the time) went to the shelter to peruse the dogs. Since Bates never had a dog before, she didn’t know what to expect. They find Butter, who had been wandering the country for months before coming to the shelter, and they decided right then and there to bring him home. Once he got there, he was afraid of everything. About ten years later, Butter mellowed and is now the sweetest dog in the world.

He’s as sweet as can be; however, some things never change. Butter still has an irrational fear of the mailman. Near her door, some scratch marks can be seen from scratching for the mailman’s arrival. Whether he was abused by someone in uniform is unknown. What is certain is he would freak out if there’s anyone standing in or by a mail truck.

When he isn’t busy going crazy over the mailman, Butter tends to run hot laps. Whenever he’s really excited or hasn’t been outside in a long time, he would run around in laps or figure-eights. And if you’re in his way, he would steamroll you.

Otherwise, he’s the dog of the town. Even now, people would notice Butter more than her own children, which Bates finds hilarious. “Although of course I’m biased since these are my own kids,” Bates said. “But here’s Butter, the one that everyone wants to see.”         

It would happen so often, as the Bates clan would take a walk, the first thing people will notice is Butter. In fact, in the first neighborhood they lived in, Bates would have neighbors deliberately drive down their street to see the doggy in the window. “They had no idea who [my husband and my] names were, but [everyone] knew who Butter was,” Bates said.

In a world where dogs and little children are meant to get along, it’s very surprising when a dog like Butter comes in to disrupt the status quo. When Bates had her first child, Butter wanted nothing to do with him at first. Her son would pull at Butter’s tail, and he would get up to walk away, determined to not be bothered. “You would think that dogs would automatically cling to the kids like in the movies and shows, but Butter was an exception,” Bates said. “I think he was wondering when we were going to return [my son].”

However, when she had her second child, Butter came to accept the new reality of having babies in the house. But judging by how often people would recognize Butter in the street, it would be hard to blame this dog for having some jealousy.

Every day he goes with Bates’s husband to work. It used to be the other way around when she was working from home. It does beg a question on whether or not Butter might show up to Millikin for a visit someday. “Perhaps so,” Bates said.    

No matter what the case may be, the Bates clan can always count on their family dog sticking around for the long run. He’s been with the Bates clan through thick and thin. If Butter isn’t there, it’s an emptiness that’s so easy to feel. He’s been there enough to where his presence is one that clings to you and would never let go.