Beau was an accident.
His mom, a yellow Lab, was scheduled to be spayed when his dad, a yellow Lab down the road from mom, got loose and had a brief, but undoutedly passionate, affair with Beau's mom. 9 weeks later, 9 healthy, bouncing, chubby Lab puppies made their way into the world and one of those, into my heart.
I was 30 years old, managing a small birding supply shop while doing field work for grad school and suffering from a very serious case of puppy pangs. My boyfriend at the time worked with one of the human elements in this Labrador love story and it was decided I would get one of the puppies. I knew weeks in advance of Beau's pending arrival. Before he came home to me, he had a name (Beaucephus), a bed, bowls and food secured and waiting for him.
I did not get to pick him out. That honor went to said boyfriend and, for all his faults, Paul picked me out a very good dog (a dog who then proceeded to puke on him (twice) on the ride home - I think now Beau was voicing an opinion but I digress...) He was waiting for me one day when I came home from work - this chubby little bundle of feet and belly. It was love at first sight.
Beau was a very lucky puppy.
He went with me everywhere, including work where he met lots and lots of different people. When he wasn't with me, Beau spent his time with my father who was also baby-sitting my sister's oldest two boys - just babies themselves. Beau grew up on a 6-acre lot of woods and streams, boulders and nearby fields. He met cows, went swimming and played with my family's other dogs. He had, in essence, the perfect puppyhood. And it showed in his character throughout his life.
I could spend days telling you his stories - he was such an incredible companion and we were young together sharing adventures. But I'll give you just a few that speak to what a remarkable dog he was and how and why he became my "heart" dog.
The worst thing Beau ever did: He ate a kid's blueberry muffin when we were camping. Of course, the kid left his the muffin on a rock with an unleashed dog running around the campground, so you know...
(I have a history of taking young girls under my wing as was done for me), one of the girls got ahead of us and apparently found herself on someone's private property. Someone who didn't want anyone to know what he was growing in his backyard.
The guy came tearing after the girl (what he was planning to do to her, I don't even want to imagine) but found himself staring into the face of a 115-pound, all-muscle, fearlessly, frighteningly growling dog. I apologized for our mistake in trespassing and calmly headed the girls off in a new direction while Beau stood between us and the seething, screaming man. When we were safely away, I gave a whistle and Beau trotted back to us. (Maybe he gave that guy one more glance over his shoulder just to be safe.)
Beau's biggest flaw: His health. In his 14 years with me, Beau had Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery on both back legs, arthritis, epilepsy, cancer, canine vestibular disease, and laryngeal paralysis. He also went deaf. But he was happy.
100 pounds of love: Beau loved people. But Beau loved me most of all. I didn't see this happen but a friend told me about it after a party Jan and I had when we bought our house. Apparently, Beau was getting loved on by all the guests, soaking it up until I came around the corner of the yard. According to Ann, suddenly the guests no longer registered as Beau saw me and took off in my direction. As she put it "100 pounds of love" came barreling my way with no regard to anything in his way - guests and furniture included. I had been out of his sight for 10 minutes but when he saw me, his whole world lit up and even my friends could see that I was the light in his life. As he was in my mine.
|Beau had a cat, Frodo. Frodo loved Beau.|
On the side of the house, in the middle of the English Ivy, Beau stood quietly looking from me back to something on the ground. Then he laid down next to it. When I walked over, I saw a tiny baby rabbit in what looked to be a damaged nest covered in flies and in dire condition. Beau was standing guard over it.
Sadly, the little rabbit didn't make it (we tried but couldn't get it the help it needed in time) but we did bring it in the house and try to keep it alive until we could get it to a wildlife rehabilitator. Throughout the night, Beau kept a constant vigil on the delicate little creature and for years afterwards, was very cautious about walking in the ivy always on the lookout for future baby bunnies.
Beau would have been 18 years old on Wednesday.
He was my pride and joy, "my east and west, my working week and my Sunday rest".* He was Bella's predecessor, the first dog of my adulthood, the one who let me learn from my mistakes. He made me grow up and reminded me of the joy in youthful exuberance.
For the next 14 days, my posts will be devoted to my boy, Beau. Don't worry, I can't possibly post every day. ;) I hope I can do him justice.
*W.H. Auden - Funderal Blues
(You guys know you can click on the pictures for the full-size version, right? Well, if not, you do now. ;)