I was fully prepared to be a cat person for the rest of my life. Enter Beau, an Australian sheepherding dog with a bladder control problem. Inherited from my then-husband’s ex-wife who would euthanize him if we didn’t take him, Beau became my responsibility. I had to get over my fear of dogs, and especially this one. Not so much that I thought he would bite me, but that he peed everywhere when he got excited. Which was pretty much his standard “hello,” when he saw you. That coupled with his errant herding instinct of knocking me down when I was carrying groceries into the house... well, we had some work to do. I had to look beyond my resentment of the ex for forcing a dog into my life. I didn’t like dogs; coupled with the drooling spit factor, they’re smelly and messy and take a lot of attention. And I really didn’t like this one with the added pee factor. But I was the primary caretaker, and so we had to make friends. Until Beau, I hadn’t really had any consistent interaction with dogs. I was a cat person; they are more convenient. They aren’t clammering for attention. They don’t drool. Where dogs are saying, Pet-me-pet-me-pet-me, cats are saying, Perhaps you may pet me. If I feel like it. Maybe.
My husband used to play this cute game with Beau; he would be sitting in front of him, and he would take his finger and point it at him and say, “Bang!” And Beau would flop over on the ground, playing dead.
My dear friend Miss Ruthie groomed Beau and cleaned him up. She is my expert on children and animals. I took him for a walk everyday, and fed and watered him. And somewhere along the way, I actually began to love this guy. He was really a sweet dog. And around the time that I realized that I wasn’t afraid of dogs anymore, and that I was attached to this one . . . we went away for a weekend and a friend was coming to the house to feed him and he got out of the house and disappeared. She never made much of an effort to find him. Husband walked up the road toward a farm and found that he had gotten hit by a car. Just like that, he was gone. It was the oddest thing; I was petting him before we left and I felt him saying goodbye to me. But not just goodbye for the weekend. I was assuring him that we’d be back. And he was trying to tell me he wouldn’t be there when we got back.
Beau came into my life and helped to heal an old wound. He showed me the capacity for love of a dog. When I got that lesson, his work was done.
~Excerpted from Healing Dogs with Love
Sorry for the lack of a photo of Beau--am working on it!