This is a post about my dog.
I’ve been thinking about this opening section since I decided to write about my basset hound Beau. A part of me wants to incorporate a disclaimer. This is an anime blog, and I am not going to be writing about anime here. I won’t cleverly (or not so cleverly) link it back to anime. If you don’t want to read about my dog, then you can move along. I won’t judge you. I would kindly ask the same courtesy.
At one point in my life, I would have looked out of the corner of my eye at someone who treated animals like people. Don’t get me wrong. I won’t criticize anyone for doing that. We all have a limited time on this rock, and worrying about stuff that doesn’t affect you is a waste of that time. But I wasn’t that kind of person.
This memorial post is one of those things I might have, in another life, looked at with a little bit of judgment. Firstly because, how much do people really care about my dog? He was special to me, but I’m not that important in the grand scheme of things. Secondly, because I always feel like I’m being melodramatic when I’m sharing my feelings. Whenever I break down crying, I immediately start apologizing for it.
I decided I wanted to write this for two reasons. They are both selfish. Writing about Beau on Twitter has helped me process my grief a little bit. It’s helped me take what are painful reminders and turn them into happy memories. It doesn’t take away the pain or sorrow, but it does help lessen it.
The second reason is that Beau was a special dog for me. To borrow a term I learned from Derek on Twitter, I think pets are my friends. And Beau was my best friend. Sometimes he was the annoying best friend who would dump the trash out onto the floor or need to get up at 2 a.m. to go outside. Sometimes he was the type of best friend who was there for you no matter what.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I want to talk about Beau because he was a special dog to me. And maybe by sharing his story, something of him will live on, and you can get a hint of the same joy I had.
So here it goes. Here is a post about my dog.
Why I wanted a basset hound?
Before Beau, I never really had a dog before. I had lived with dogs before, but I never got to have a dog that I would call my dog. This is in addition to the fact that I often lived in apartments or homes where pets weren’t allowed. There are shockingly few rentals that even allow you to have pets, and most are limited to a cat or a small dog.
It really wasn’t until I met my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, that I had a chance to get a dog of my own. And what type of dog did I want? Well, I always wanted a basset hound. They always seemed like friendly, low-maintenance dogs that were big enough to be large but not so big to be intimidating. Basically, they seemed like excellent couch buddies.
Now, some of this is accurate, and some of it is not. Basset hounds are like other hounds. They were bred to track game through the brush. Their short stature makes it easier for them to navigate through the underbrush, and the white tip on their tail makes them easier to see while they are doing this.
This means two things. The first is bassets will always follow their nose, even past the point of good sense. If they smell something in the trash that would taste good, they’ll go into the garbage and get it. If they start tracking a squirrel and you don’t have a securely fenced yard, they’ll just keep going.
Second, when bassets are fixated on something, that is the only thing that matters at that moment. This means they aren’t really interested in listening to people. This often gets them listed on “dumbest” breeds lists. They aren’t really dumb. They just aren’t interested.
Well, unless you have treats. Then they are the most interested. Because they are really food motivated.
So we found the Washington Basset Rescue, and we set up an appointment. We drove out to Spokane, and I had no idea which basset I wanted. There were at least a dozen there at the time. The rescue has far fewer now, but there was a lot ready to be adopted at the time.
Beau was the first dog I lifted over the fence into the play area, where you get to meet other dogs. And he was just so excited. He raced around from me to my girlfriend and back. He would stop for a moment for pets.
Now I don’t know what it says about me, but Beau was so excited that I couldn’t bear to disappoint him by putting him back.
So in October 2010, we took Beau home with us.
His story was that he had come from Utah and had been given up because his owners couldn’t take him into a new apartment. My wife and I disagree on how old he was when we brought him home. I remember hearing that he was 2 or 3, and she remembers hearing 3 or 4.
I remember the first night, we planned on leaving him in a crate for the night, but he was crying and barking and carrying on, so we had to let him out. He laid down in the bed with us because Beau always had to be with his people.
My 10 years with Beau
So I don’t have an easy way to condense 10 years down into a short package. So I’ll just share the things I tell people about Beau.
More than anything else, Beau was a dog of patterns. Each morning, he would wait until I woke up and then beg me to take him outside. He always wanted to patrol the entire fence line when he was outside. If one of us tried to interrupt him before he was done, he would go running off to somewhere else in the yard.
When we went to bed, he would typically lie right beside my right leg. He would slowly spread out during the night until he took over probably a quarter of the bed.
Beau always had to find the softest spot he possibly could. It wasn’t just good enough to be on the bed. No, he had to be on the blankets. Often, he took this to hilarious extremes. He would lie on top of a scrap of paper or a deflated toy because it might be just that little bit softer than anything else.
The only thing that beat out the softest spot was the heater in the winter or the cool floor (tile or hardwood floor) in the summer. I still have a blurry photo of him lying in front of our backdoor on the hardwood on a particularly hot day.
Then in the summer, he would go on a patrol of the fence line and just stop and lie down in the grass. This was the point where I knew that he had done all of his business outside and was ready to come back in, so I would go up to him and say that it’s not lying in the grass time; it’s going inside time.
He would grudgingly get back to his feet (sometimes with some encouragement) and go back inside.
He was also the friendliest dog I’ve ever known. We lived down the street from a bar and just had a 4-foot chainlink fence between us and the road. Beau would run up to the fence whenever the drunks would stumble by and jump up and bark at them. Whenever anyone of them pet him, he was the happiest dog.
Even as we moved and he got older, he was the most excited when new people would come and see him. Because they were there to see him. He would race from person to person, getting as many pets as he could. Eventually, he would settle into my lap.
The other thing about Beau is that he wanted to be in my lap anytime I sat on the couch. Even if I wasn’t ready to have him in my lap, he would be up on the couch trying to get onto my lap as soon as I sat down. This became really awkward when my wife and I sat on the couch together, and he would whine until he could get on the couch with us. This typically took laying him across both of our laps.
Probably the thing that makes me the saddest when I think about it now is that he would get super nervous whenever we cleaned up the house. We always guessed that it was because he associated it with his last owners leaving.
We would always need to reassure him that we weren’t going anywhere and that it would be OK.
We would never give up on him.
The last year
There are dozens of stories I could tell about Beau. He was there for some of my greatest personal tragedies, like my Dad dying in 2016. He moved with us three times. He liked getting into the garbage when we weren’t looking. When I exercised, he tried to get underneath me when I did push-ups because he thought it was a great game.
But I’ve prattled on a lot.
I knew Beau was starting to get old when he couldn’t make the jump onto the bed anymore. One night he could do it, and the next night, he needed help. This was likely the beginning of the end. Sure. It has been a while since he played tug with the rope or raced around the yard, but jumping on the bed used to be simple for him, it just wasn’t anymore.
I dreaded what would come next. I always knew that I would be a mess when I had to say goodbye to Beau. Over the years, he had become my best friend. The kind that was always there when you needed them and was just happy that you were around when you didn’t. I’m sure that’s not a healthy relationship with a human, but it’s a good relationship with a dog.
Shortly after COVID hit the area, I started working from home. I’m pretty sure that Beau thought it was great. See, we had been putting him in his kennel whenever we had to leave because otherwise, he would make himself sick eating trash.
But it wasn’t too long after that when we didn’t have to kennel him because he wasn’t interested in getting into the trash anymore.
We would have to wake him up to eat at night, and I think it hurt him to lie across my lap. He would still sit up on the couch with me, though.
I knew he was getting old, but I still wasn’t ready for the events of last weekend. On Thursday, I noticed he started to wheeze a bit when he was breathing through his nose. He wasn’t ever a quiet sleeper, but this sounded raspy. Then on Friday, he stopped eating.
We had just switched food with the dogs, so they had been grumpy with us about eating. But then, on Friday, Beau just stopped eating. We could get him to eat treats, but I made him a plate of rice and chicken that evening, and he wouldn’t touch a bit of it.
This was the first red flag because if you know anything about hounds, they love to eat. There are dozens of overweight basset hounds on the internet because people just give them too much food, and they don’t know how to say, “No.”
Then on Saturday morning Beau came out of the bedroom, and he was wheezing through his mouth in an air-conditioned house. That sent alarm bells off. Not only that, but he still wasn’t eating.
So I found a vet on Saturday, and they told me something was pressing against his larynx, and something was in his stomach. They said I could take him to the university veterinary hospital about three hours away or take him to a place in town.
I found a place in town with a CT machine where I could get my dog scanned. I just wanted to know what was wrong. I couldn’t sleep that night. I had given Beau some anti-anxiety medication that helped his breathing but put him to sleep. I didn’t think it was fair to move him around too much.
So at 7:30 a.m. last Sunday, I loaded Beau into the SUV, and we drove to the pet urgent care center. It was here that I got the bad news. The vet said he had laryngeal paralysis. It was treatable, but it ran the risk of pneumonia, and it was likely he had something else wrong with him.
The other option was euthanasia.
I would be lying if I said it was an easy decision. I didn’t want to give up on him, but I also didn’t want him to suffer just because I didn’t want to say goodbye.
And, dear lord, if I had any other option that sounded like it would have saved him pain and suffering, I would have taken it. Instead, through a lot of tears, I made what I hope is the right choice.
Just like I had done so many times before, I held him as he went.
I don’t know if there is a heaven, but part of me hopes that there is, just so that I can know that Beau is happy somewhere, running up to fences and getting all of the pets from strangers.
For now, I just miss him. I imagine he’s lying down just around the corner, out of sight, but when I go looking for him, he’s gone.
I will miss you, Beau, for now, and forever. My life was better to have you in it, and it’s less now that you’re gone. But I just hope that these clumsy words are enough to remember you with.
You were the best dog.