This is just a snap-shot, made a few years ago with my iPhone. Our little dog, Beau, who is the son I never had, and my best friend, is very ill. He has made his last walk around the block, and in a little while it will be time to say goodbye.
I looked over some photographs of him and found this one, which I think represents a nice part of who he is. For whatever reason, almost every dog in our neighborhood, and all the people who walk with them, have always loved Beau.
Here he is, my wonderful dog child, the center of attention, as always.
It's not easy type these words; my eyes are full of tears.
We've been together, Beau and I, for well over 15 years. We have been on one hundred adventures and more together. He's traveled wherever I could take him, from the mountains, where he sniffed the flower in the meadows, to the beach, where he raced over the sand along the edge of the water. We've slept in campgrounds, and motels and lovely bed and breakfasts, which, after a few minutes, he figured he was in charge of. I've held him under my arm as I pedaled my bike up or down the street to find where neighbors were congregating with their dogs, so that Beau could join in the fun.
When he was a puppy, Beau taught me that he didn't want five walks up and down the street over the course of the day. He wanted five blocks in the morning, when he knew all his dog friends were about, and the smells were at their freshest. We could come to a street corner, I'd lean down and say, "Which way do you want to go, Beau," and he would pick the direction.
Every day I've been home for more than a decade and a half, I have held Beau in my arms. Last night, when he could no longer walk, and barely stand, I carried him up and down our street, taking Beau for a walk, rather than the other way around. I set him down carefully here and there, to let him sniff the grass and trees for a few moments. The he would stand immobile, except for his tail, which he wagged, to let me know he wanted me to carry him again. And so we had our final walk.
When Beau chose to live with us, showing up out of nowhere for us to take him in, and to take care of us, he slept with our daughters the first night, who wanted to keep him. I didn't want him. We had cats, after all. From my daughter's room, Beau looked up from the bed he was on, and barked at me as I walked by, with that big bark of his that came out of his small body.
The next night, after I had spent the days walking and playing with him, feeding him, and looking futilely for his "real" home, Beau slept with my daughters again. He raised his head again as I headed down the hall, but did not bark. On the third night, he was sleeping with me, and it's been that way ever since, me, my wife, and Beau.
Beau, whenever you leave us, I know you will find yourself in your new home, a place where you won't miss us. You will be with your old dog friends, who are waiting for you to join in the play on someone's big front yard, and you will I know you're going to have many more new friends to play with, too, where I know you will still be the center of attention, just as part of you will always be in my heart.
I have more photos of him here: http://icyclist.blogspot.com/2010/12/goodbye-beau-our-little-dog-beau-who-is.html