Discover more from Matthew Moran: Music & Musings
It feels like the end of an era
Last Friday we said goodbye to one of my best friends.
I had gone well over 1,500 words when I decided the scrap the entire thing and make this shorter. It still ended up too long. Beaux deserves longer but you, dear reader, need shorter.
Is That Falling In Your Lap?
I had gone through my second divorce and determined that I would not date until Sara, my youngest, was 18 years old.
Sara had been telling me I needed new frisbee dog. I, in rebuttal, had told her that I didn’t want a puppy (I wanted to know its temperament - energy level). I also said I was not going to look for a dog… It would have to fall in my lap.
We were driving down 40th Street W near Avenue L and saw a Lab (Lab-mix) running excitedly down the sidewalk. As has always been the case with my daughters, we had to stop. You don’t allow dogs to run down busy streets without attempting a rescue. Rescuing animals is the norm.
We pulled over, Sara hopped out and called to him, and the dog ran to her, jumped up and licked her face, then jumped into the truck.
I drove through the neighborhood and handed out some business cards, asking if anyone recognized the dog. We took him home and put him in our yard, where he started playing with Sara’s dog.
Just before we left to make some, “Found Dog” signs, I kicked a partially inflated basketball for him to chase. He jumped up and caught the ball in mid-air. I commented to Sara, “I could teach this dog frisbee.”
On our way to make the signs I received a phone call.
“I think you found my dog,” a man’s voice.
We drove to the neighborhood and picked him up to take him the short two blocks to our house. He climbed into the front seat. Sara had moved to the backseat. I told him where we had found him. I said he was a great looking dog.
“I need to find a home for him,” the man said, “we can’t keep him.”
From the backseat…
“Is that falling in your lap, Dad?”
That’s how I got Beaux.
A little over a week later we were at the yearly, “Bark in the Park” event. It’s a bunch of fanatical dog owners, vendors, and demonstrations. A member of Disc Dogs of Southern California saw me throwing my oversized, Wham-o, Ultimate Frisbee to Beaux.
He handed me one of the discs below. He said they are better for the dog’s mouth. He also encouraged me to enter the distance competition.
We ended getting 2nd place. The only reason we didn’t take first is that I threw two discs out of bounds. I told Beaux he won. He didn’t have to suffer for my mis-throws. One of the people we beat was a young woman named Kirby.
Make no mistake, she is infinitely more talented than me at both throwing frisbee and training her dogs. See the video below. But when it comes to the distance competition, freestyle dogs often over-shoot the tossed frisbee with their enthusiasm.
Beaux gets a Mommy
Deb and I began talking/chatting with each other in 2011. Just intermittently.
In 2016 we started hanging out as friends. Initially, once a month, then twice a month, and soon every weekend. I would sleep over at her house - in the loft - we were platonic and saintly.
During that time, Deb bonded with Beaux. He was super-affectionate! He would attempt to climb inside your body - that’s how close he wanted to be. 70lbs of lap-dog.
Deb fed that affection. She let him on the couch, eventually (after we became a couple), the bed. She fed him every morning and evening.
Later, the morning routine became Beaux, going to Deb’s side of the bed and hanging out in the morning. He would look at me expectantly. I believe, in his mind, this is what he was saying to me.
“Hey dad… If you are going to the hills or some other adventure, I’m all in! Let me know and I’m there. But if you are going to the office to work, I’m going to stay with mom and get loves.”
Deb made me a better dog owner. She encouraged me to be softer on Beaux - to soften any discipline and attempt to understand what motivated him.
Goodbye, Dear Friend
Beaux’s decline was rapid last week. He was still catching frisbee two weeks ago. He came down injured after a catch - limping - but then walked it off. However, I told Deb, it was time to retire him from frisbee. She wasn’t sure.
The next day, he struggled to stand up. He then stopped eating - a VERY rare occurrence.
We took him to the vet, got blood work, x-rays, everything looked pretty good. Slightly anemic.
Unfortunately, over the next several days things went very badly. We tried wet dog food, boiled chicken & rice… but he got weaker and weaker. I won’t go into some of the other, unpleasant details. Suffice to say, it was horrible to watch. I had to carry him up the stairs after bringing him outside.
On Friday, Deb was getting ready to head to an appointment. I gave her an update on Beaux and said, “We need to take him. This doesn’t go on any longer.”
Deb began crying. She cancelled her appointment. I picked up Beaux and put him in the car.
At the vet, he went over our options. But, he said, the chances of a recovery and quality of life, given his age and condition, was unlikely to be lasting or effective.
When he administered the pre-euthanasia sedative, Beaux began to relax and fall asleep. He looked wonderfully peaceful. Even through his grey beard, I could the puppy-ness that he always seemed to carry. He was no longer suffering, and while sad - terribly sad - I was happy to see that peace.
Deb and I stroked his fur and told him we loved him through the entire process.
Deb kept repeating something she said to him often, “You are a good boy!!”
And then he was taken away. Gone! We didn’t want a paw print or ashes. We have photos, videos, and memories. That’s good enough.
I don’t believe in heaven or an afterlife. But, I still like to imagine that my brother and my friend Tim were there, in some imaginary place, to meet him. I know that John would take him hiking - every day, early in the morning, like he is used to. I know that Tim, who took his dog in the hills with me in high-school, would take Beaux on adventures too.
I went home and hugged Rain, who we adopted from my brother when he died. What, if any, memories does she have of my brother? And what is her understanding of Beaux no longer being there?
She is enjoying a bit more direct attention. I can tell she likes it. I’m glad.
Memories are sweet but they are also painful.
I think dogs are better at living in the moment. The bunny or squirrel or frisbee she is chasing today is her whole world. I wonder what we can learn from that?
Anyway, this still got longer than it needs to be. If you endured this, thank you.
I’ll leave you with a few photos of Beaux below. They’re probably for me but I hope they catch his energy… his enthusiasm for life!
He was a great dog! I’m glad he fell in my lap and spent the next 11 and a half years trying to climb back into it.
August 1, 2023