I was five years old when Beau Brummel joined our merry family. My parents had been promising my brother, sister and I that we could get a dog one day. One Sunday afternoon we were out for a drive. (I guess it was a way to stimulate curiosity in us young’uns!) We stopped for lunch a few towns over from where we lived. After eating, my siblings left the table only to return a few moments later with an announcement: There was a kennel in town. (They had checked the phonebook.) (For those of you too young to remember pay phones, they were in most restaurants and on the street for people to make phone calls without going home. There were no cells phones or Internet in those days. It was the ‘60s Sigh.)
Busted! My father had promised. We came home with an 8 month old, pure bred, champion stock, black, miniature poodle. His front legs had been broken when he was a few days old and had healed incorrectly so his walk was always slightly off. We never noticed.
Beau ruled. Well, at least us kids. He played when he wanted to, he cuddled when he wanted to. And he always looked like he knew better. Because Beau was of champion stock, breeders wanted to use him as a stud. My parents agreed. Evidently it didn’t go well. He didn’t seem to know what to do. The first indication?
Several years later, in another town, we added another dog to the mix. A beautiful Chesapeake Bay Retriever, we called her Blue. She idolized Beau. On the last day of school before summer break, both dogs went missing. Eventually they showed up again and the summer continued as planned until . . .our beautiful Blue was pregnant!
Our first thought was: Beau! You ole dog! But no. We think he pimped her out to another retriever in the neighbourhood: Blacky, a black lab. The pups were stunning! I watched them being born. Quite an experience for a child. Beau hovered like a worried godfather. Second indication?
A few days later my brother, Blue and her five puppies left for university. Beau moped for twenty minutes and then started putting everything back to normal. But he did find a friend.
My best friend lived across the street. Her father was a hunter and had hunting dogs. Strictly off limits to curious children. They also had a male cat. Rusty was an outdoor cat whose job was to keep the mouse population in decline. He was very good at his job. We lived just outside a small city surrounded by forests and fields. It was a great place to live. Rusty was beautiful and affectionate. In those days your animals ran free so chances were good they would meet up. They did. Beau and Rusty became friends. The two boys met up most days and Beau often invited Rusty into the house for snacks or even a nap. Third indicator?
A few years later we moved to another province. Beau never again had a special friend like Rusty. I wonder if they found each other across the Rainbow Bridge?