Beau posing for the camera a few weeks after he arrived in 2007
I thought I was too old to have my heart broken, but on July 9th, 2012 Beau, my little French Bulldog, died in my lap. I've already written to friends, posted the news on Facebook, so I won't detail the events that led me to make the decision to put Beau down. I want this to be a celebration of a remarkable companion.
Beau was remarkable. I adopted him at the age of four from a breeder in Connecticut. I found him on a website while I was searching around for a French Bulldog puppy. I saw this beautiful brindled Frenchie with expressive eyes, a Winston Churchill countenance, with Yoda ears. I wondered what his story was. The woman I talked to said Beau came from a breeder in Oklahoma and she acquired him as a "back-up" stud dog. Frenchie females have a difficult time conceiving, and most have to be either helped or artificially inseminated. Beau had proven to be a disappointment as a stud, and because she had too many dogs, she had come to the difficult conclusion that he would be adopted out. She told me Beau had one of the sweetest temperaments she had ever encountered in the breed, and would be very sorry to see him go. How could I fail to not swallow that story hook, line and sinker. I immediately told her I wanted him. We agreed that he should be neutered by her local vet and I could pick him up in two weeks.
My friend, Joan, was in town and when I told her about Beau, she immediately volunteered to drive me up from New York City to collect him. I hadn't had a dog since my early teens, and I soon realized I was hardly equipped or had sufficient knowledge of dogs in general to take such a step. I had always wanted a dog, but I worked full time and hated the idea of abandoning a dog to an empty apartment while I went off to work. By 2007 I had moved my consulting business to my apartment, and had the time to devote to a dog.
Joan, Beau's godmother, and her daughter Lily in New York, where Lily is first introduced to Beau.
We drove up to Connecticut on a hot morning in early June, which coincided with Beau's fourth birthday. Because he had stitches and lived in a kennel, Beau was a stinky, unpresentable mess when we first met, but the breeder brought him to me, and I knelt down to meet him eye-to-eye. Beau came over to me immediately and licked my face. Though my nose wrinkled in disgust at the smell of him, I fell in love immediately. Joan had a old quilt throw and with Beau wrapped up and on my lap, we drove to Greenwich, where Joan dropped me off at the train station for final leg of the journey to Manhattan. I had no idea you couldn't bring a dog on a train, and thank God, the conductor didn't protest.
We arrived at Grand Central Station and Beau was immediately plunged into the bewildering world of non-stop motion. We waited in the wilting heat for a taxi, and some drivers refused to allow us a ride. I finally got Beau home, and in the cool confines of my apartment. It was time for water and his first feeding, which went smoothly. The next step was his first walk in the big city. Out on the street, we headed for the dog-run in Union Square Park, one block away. About one third of the way down, Beau began to pant. Frenchies are very much affected by hot weather and it was beastly hot that day. I was alarmed at the effort it took for him to breath, and picked up him and carried him the rest of the way. A twenty-one-and-a-half-pound Frenchie is all muscle and dead weight. I was sweating profusely by the time we got into the dog run. Once safely behind the gate, I took off Beau's leash and looked for a shady place to cool off. Beau sat down in the middle of the run, and stared in the distance as dogs whizzed passed him, chasing balls, Frisbees, and each other. In the middle of that canine maelstrom, Beau serenely contemplated his place in the world, Suddenly people came over to me and started to comment on "that amazingly calm little dog." Beau quietly ignored the dogs surrounding him, remaining aloof to others who ventured close enough to give him a good sniff. Eventually, he walked over to the side to do his business. He walked over to me, as if to announce it was time to go. This time he walked back on his leash.
Beau meets with Joan's young daughter, Lily. They got along famously.
Karole always commented on what an exemplary gentleman Beau was.
On Dyanne's terrace trying to cool off on a hot summer's night.
Dyanne and Beau were pals who shared a special bond.
Beau's animal rug imitation.
Beau could be serious...
Until surgery corrected the problem, Beau suffered from a cyst in his paw,
requiring daily soaks in Epsom salts. He would get bored and sit down. One my
my favorite of his many photos.
Once he was clean, I couldn't ignore the fact that Beau would wake me up, put his paws on the edge of the bed frame and stare at me in the dark as he had the previous nights. With no excuses left, I pulled him up in bed with me. He did a few circles, pawed the blanket into some semblance of a nest, and plopped down, arranging his entire length against the side of my back. It would be his preferred method of sleeping for the next five years.
Beau, subjected to the kiddie swing in the park across the street from my Portland home.
He was always a patient, good sport.
He was always a patient, good sport.
Laurele didn't love having her photo taken, and I usually contrived to get her with hiding behind something, resulting in a series of lovely photos. This time, she used Beau, and they are adorable together.
Beau hated jackets or sweaters in the winter. Maryann bought him this very nice coat for Christmas. We put it on and the result was one miserable looking dog.
Clothing was not for him. Beau preferred to go naked even when the temperature outside was below freezing!
Like most Frenchies, Beau hated the water, though he liked to come with me on a motor boat on a large
body of water. He just didn't like the life-preserver that went with the journey.
Marcos, my favorite doorman was besotted by Beau and the two of them got along famously. He would lift Beau up, and scratch his chest and talk nonsense to Beau while he gave him a massage. Beau would aways smile. Marcos was his pal. Monroe, one of the retired co-op owners in the building frequently sat in the lobby to talk with friends, always had a treat for Beau. He was one of the first Frenchies in the building, but not for long. The breed became very popular. For the next two years, we settled into a pleasing routine, meeting new friends at the dog run each morning. The local hairdresser always enjoyed giving Beau a pat. He new most of the dogs and their owners in the neighborhood. He was a regular visitor to the Union Square farmers market on Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays, and enjoyed the sea of humanity pouring into the area on shopping days. We took long walks then--to Washington Square, or up to Madison Park on 23rd Street. Beau knew many of the shop owners in the area, and the Chase branch at 14th & Fifth was always a good place for doggie treat.
Marcos kept treats for Beau in his bag.
They were pals and Marcos could always get Beau to play--something he never did with me.
My friend Kent, decided to use Beau as a chick magnet to resuscitate his love-life
following his divorce. Beau didn't mind posing, as long as it wasn't too strenuous.
Beau automatically drew strangers. Women thought he was adorable and men thought
thought he was a little toughie (so not true).
Beau visiting Sara and her mother while I was out of town. He always knows how to pose for the camera.
Summers in Portland meant a nap in the sun.
Walden, the cutie pie with psychotic edge
Beau and Walden during a quiet interlude
Beau seeking refuge from Walden in Walden's crate.
Bit arrived with Kyle, a young man my brother, Doug, sent to me to help on projects on my house. Bit was a long-haired cat, a skittish guy with a comic black dot on his nose and the most beautiful color of blue eyes you ever saw. Kyle and found him abandoned as a kitten, and adopted him. Bit was dragged all over the country has Kyle moved from place to place. By the time he arrived at my house in Portland, Bit was terrified of nearly everyone and kept to himself in my basement. He was welcome upstairs but it took a long time for him to feel confident around others. Beau and Bit never became bosom buddies, but I think Bit appreciated Beau's keeping his distance, allowing Bit to make peace between themselves. They got along and occasionally even chased each other around, as long as Beau's interest, which was minimal, kept the game going. They were best photographed in repose.
Beau and Bit: peaceful co-existence
Sometimes they feigned interest in one another.
Proof positive of Beau's slacker credentials. He could fall asleep in my lap
in a nanosecond.
My friend Jay had a special rapport with Beau and he now has his own dog--Bella!
It is common for animal lovers to extol the virtues of their pets and I'm no exception. Beau rarely tried my patience. He didn't jump on furniture, in fact he preferred to look at me from the floor until I relented and brought him up on the couch for a nap while I watched TV. He didn't dig holes in my back yard. Or chew on my shoes. He didn't climb into garbage cans looking for food scraps. But he also never played fetch, or tug of war with me, or chased a Frisbee. Beau was more likely to simply lay down and take a nap. No dog and master were as perfectly suited as we were.
Beau in Trish and David Hamilton's kitchen, begging me to get him away from
Porter, their over-active Frenchie.
Beau loved being wheeled around. Before I got a car, I dragged him everywhere in
a cart with wheels, and a mesh top and sides he could look through. Then I could bring
him into supermarkets, and other places where dogs are not allowed. Beau was never
tied outside of a store or restaurant. I was terrified he'd be kidnapped.
If Beau didn't want to follow, he simply put on the breaks and held his ground.
He often did this with friends, who took care of him in my absense. He was a
truly a one-man dog.
This spot not the stairs gave Beau a vantage point. He could see who
was at the door, and it was wide and comfy enough for a nap site.