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Bubba back: Yuman who lost home in fire finds lost dog
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Bubba has his “dad” back.
After a week and a half lost and alone after a fire destroyed the home he shared with his master Tony Gianopoulos and canine companion Rocky, Bubba just popped up – skinny, but happy to be reunited.
“I never had so many kisses as I had from him when I picked him up,” Gianopoulos said.
Bubba is one of the two dogs Gianopoulos lost after a fire destroyed his Yuma home on Dec. 9 and claimed nearly everything he owned. Gianopoulos, 79 and a lifelong resident of Yuma, desperately searched for his little shadows, Bubba the chihuahua and Rocky the chihuahua mix, as the fire from faulty wiring and then an exploding gas furnace licked all around him. But the flames, brutal and unrelenting, tore through his modest house on La Casita Drive and chased him outside before he knew what became of the dogs. Remains never turned up in the rubble, giving Gianopoulos hope.
On Thursday, while his son Diomedes moved furniture into the apartment they'll both be staying in while the family rebuilds, Gianopoulos got into the car his grandson gave him and again drove his neighborhood with his eyes peeled. It paid off. There was Bubba. He ran right to him.
Now, Bubba is inside a kennel at Chaparral Veterinary Clinic, being tested and observed after his days in the wild and kept someplace safe while his owner is in transition. He's lost some weight, making his small body even smaller. But he responds excitedly to Gianopoulos, dancing around his cage, curling his toes against the bars and whining to be held. His big dark eyes plead and smile against his black and tan mask and black button nose.
Yuma has wrapped its arms around Gianopoulos since the fire. He lived independently, on his Social Security benefits and part-time wages from greeting customers at Sam's Club, and had no insurance. After he lost everything, friends he didn't know he had gave clothes, furniture, appliances, money and anything else that can be given. The ruined house was razed this week and plans are being drawn up to rebuild on the site, with a local home designer and contractor giving their services at no cost.
Gianopoulos is a sweet-natured gentleman with a friendly face, and everybody around town seems to know it. “I went to get a haircut a couple days ago, no charge,” he said. “I went to Taco Bell to get a couple tacos, no charge.”
He has a lot of chores to take care of while regrouping. Looking for Rocky is still one of them. Rocky is a brown chihuahua/dachshund mix, about 16 pounds and 8 or 9 years old. Gianopoulos and Bubba both miss him.
“They meant more to me than my house did,” he said.