Just Bill and the Mister

December 5, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 9:06 pm


Saturday, December 5, 2009

My master says it’s time to come clean.  He thinks the whole Bill-and-the-Mister idea should be laid to rest. 

 The photo at the top of this blog is the one used for the cover of his second novel, Just Bill.   Barry Knister is the author—the ‘mister’–and the dog he’s been speaking for up to now is the one in the picture.

Bill is a real dog, and he lives with a friend, Bob Nelson.  That’s the man who actually rescued him.  But Bill’s real name is Shadow, because he “shadowed” Bob on a road in western Michigan, as is described in Just Bill. 

Except not exactly.  After the novel was published last year, Bob revealed that he had in fact rescued or captured Shadow, not on a road but later, while the dog was drinking from the lake where the Nelsons live during the summer.  Bob roped Shadow and took him home.  In the following days, he asked around, went to the local humane society and various shelters.  He even made up posters and stuck them on trees and phone poles.  No one contacted him, so Shadow became family.

In other words, Knister, the person writing this (on my behalf) got it wrong in literal terms, however right it may be for the story he wrote.

But the point to be made is not literary.  It’s a matter of sensibility.  The dog in the novel is an Everyman dog, a regular-guy kind of dog.  He’s a dog like the ones next door here in Michigan.   This is not the case with me.  

So Knister thinks it’s time to cash out the Bill idea.  Not Just Bill, the novel, but Bill as the other voice in this blog.  He’s decided its time to start presenting a different transliterated reality.  That’s the word he uses.  It’s not the right word, because I don’t have an alphabet.  But what he’s been doing for his fictional dog is what he now wants to do for me, which is what the fancy word stands for.

The sensibility thing has to do with me, Chelsea Knister.  As best Knister knows—as best I know—I’m a border collie mix.  At least “mix” seems a good bet.  I look like a border collie, but I’m heavier.  I have a white blazen on my chest, and white paws similar to Bill-Shadow’s, except I’m double-coated as all border collies are. 

I am blind in one eye, the left, and something’s wrong  with my tail.  It’s about half the length it should be.  Collies have long, wavy tails, the kind you see on golden retrievers.  It works something like the outrigger on a dugout canoe.  Waft the tail to the right when you dodge left, and it helps you to balance. 

Why is my tail the way it is?  Even if I knew, I couldn’t tell anyone.  Maybe it’s been that way since I was born, a defect of some kind.  Maybe it was injured or cut off.  Knister will never know. 

So I have these attributes that he read about when he was looking for a dog to adopt.  He was scrolling through the petfinders.com website, and stopped when he saw my picture.  


Plus, there was a short narrative about me, written by a woman named Sheila Fawcett, a volunteer.  I was described as having been dumped by my owner at the Vanderburgh Humane Society in Evansville, Indiana.  When this happened, I was covered with mats (hair all clumped in knots), and I was dying of heart worm. 

From these few facts alone, you already know something about the people I now live with.  Anyone who doesn’t keep scrolling through the list of dogs after reading such details is probably not someone you want to trust with serious decisions.  Hardened-silo nuclear missile management, for instance.  In the most charitable terms, Knister and his wife have to be hopeless sentimentalists.  Suckers for hard cases and lost causes.  People who love movies about losers who eventually make it, etc.

Anyway, Knister didn’t keep scrolling through the next screens of border collies, all of whom would I’m sure have looked like better bets.  He stopped, and went to work to learn more about me, the hard-luck collie.  Once in, all in, as they say.  I flatter myself in thinking he did a smart thing.



  1. So Bill was never your dog– aha! Are you thinking of shifting to Chelsea as your co-blogger or just being yourself.

    Comment by Bernard — December 18, 2009 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

    • Yes, that’s what the “fessing up” is about. Our actual dog is far more complex–that is, more stimulating to me as a source for speculation/composition than is Shadow. Probably, though, that’s only because Barbara and I live with her. You mentioned some things in your reply to my e-mail, and I’ll take those up later. Thanks for taking a look.

      Comment by bknister — December 19, 2009 @ 11:33 am | Reply

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