The Best Among ‘Man’s Best Friend’
The Lost Files were weekly columns written back around 2001-2003 while I was running a newspaper in the Midwest. They seem to have disappeared from the Internet, probably after some redesign of the newspaper’s web site. So, from time to time, I’ll report some of my favorites from saved hard copies (that’s paper to you new media types).
I named him Beaumont, although I often called him Beau – but never Bo.
He was a total surprise when he suddenly showed up at my door. I could easily hold him in my hand. He seemed to weigh nothing at all.
It was my junior year in college, and suddenly I had a major responsibility before me. He was of mixed race. Yet over the years I learned that made him unique.
The timing could not have been worse – I had a major Russian history exam the next morning. I called my professor at home and simply said, “my girlfriend just gave me a dog.”
His reply, to his credit, was “so when do you want to reschedule your exam?”
Yep, I was now the proud owner of a German Shepherd-Border Collie mix. That first night was memorable. I always wanted a dog that would sleep at the foot of the bed so I put little Beau there. I awoke in the middle of the night with him straddling me and peeing all over me.
He never slept in my bed again.
But I loved him fiercely. He went to classes with me, we walked miles in the woods together. He bit me once because I wouldn’t stop on one particular trail. He finally ran a few yards ahead of me, jumped a log and attacked something. When I got there I found a big snake he had just killed. He proudly carried that scar on his nose from that day forward.
We traveled the country together: Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Washington, D.C., and Alaska. He never ran, he hopped. And he loved to chase rats, even when there weren’t any. “Go get the rat, Beau,” my wife or I would say, and laugh as he hopped around looking for them.
We aged together. A few years ago, The Little Black Dress, my wife, who was the daughter of a veterinarian, brought up the absurd idea of getting him “fixed.” I took it personally. I mean this was my dog. In the end, she convinced me solely because her dad told me he would live longer.
Of course, I was told he would never raise his leg again – ha, till the end he continued to do just that. My dog was still a stud.
The Alaska winters because harder and harder for him. And once again The Dress stepped in to deal with the issues I simply couldn’t. She constantly reminds me that one girlfriend gave me the dog, another commissioned a huge painting of him – which takes a prominent space in every house we live in and is the first thing unpacked and put up – while she is the one who took care of him.
When it got to the point where he couldn’t walk up the stairs, I knew it was time. So I decided a Viking funeral would be the only way. I’d put him on a little raft, set him adrift on our favorite fishing stream, light it on fire and watch the tide take him out.
Once again The Dress, after talking with her dad, stepped in. She gently informed me it probably would not be as romantic and heroic as I thought. And so she made the arrangements.
Friends came over loaded down with wine. Beau, my then 1-year old first-born Son of Thunder and I went for a final romp. The vet came over to our house. I put him down on his favorite blanket and played his favorite song – “Too Many Rivers To Cross” by the reggae band UB40.
I held him in my arms while the vet injected him first with a muscle relaxant. When the song reached the perfect spot, I nodded, the vet gave him another injection. Beau looked at me, I believe with a knowing but understanding look, and then he died.
He was my best friend. I’ve kept his collar and still carry a picture of him in my wallet. I’m fortunate in having other best friends now – The Dress especially and my two Sons of Thunder. They have filled a huge gap. I’m lucky.
One day I’ll get another dog, although it might be a while. I still miss Beau; plus The Dress said there was no way she was going to potty train three babies at once.
Until next time.