Sunday, April 28, 2013

A ten year old boy, who lived down the street from us, rang our doorbell. Lucy answered the bell, and the little boy asked if he could see our dog.

About that time, Sarge, our Australian Shepherd walked into view. The boy said, “Yes, you are the guilty one. Two of them look just like you!” The boy owned a golden retriever who had just had a litter of puppies.

Later we went down to see them and all the puppies were rolling and tumbling in play, except one. A little blue merle puppy sat stoically over to the side observing all of the mayhem. That was her nature. Kind of gentle and laid back.

Derrick, our son, wanted one of Sarge’s puppies, and he picked out Bebe.

Later Derrick said, “This puppy isn’t worth much since she crawls under the seat when she rides with me in my truck.”

“Actually she is really a smart dog because there are times that I want to crawl under the seat when I ride with you,” I said.

Derrick had a busy life of hunting and fishing and chasing women, so Bebe gradually attached herself to me and became my dog.

Australian Shepherds tend to become one-man dogs more than most breeds. Bebe followed me everywhere, moving from room to room inside and yard to yard with me outside. She even pushed the bathroom door open to check on me if it wasn’t locked. Bebe has been my virtual shadow for over fifteen years.

Bebe put her puppy teeth marks on our coffee table, so it was decided that Bebe and Sarge would live in the garage for a while. Bebe was pretty rough on our garage, even chewing holes in the sheetrock. Well, sheetrock can always be repaired – so be it. Bebe was even rougher with her Daddy, Sarge, chasing him round and round the car, and chewing on him when she could get by with it.

Sarge had a way of slipping off from me when he was out in the yard helping me work. When I picked up sticks, he picked up sticks also, carrying them proudly about.

One day he slipped off and Bebe followed him. Sarge came back, but Bebe didn’t. We searched the neighborhood, putting up lost dog signs and going door to door.

I really didn’t think that she would get across nearby Georgia Highway 20, but I went door to door over there anyway, and I got lucky. A nice young lady told me that this little black puppy showed up at her place of business and that she called the dog pound.

When I went to bail Bebe out of the pound, I noticed that her cage was wet and I asked the attendant about this. He said that when he washed out her cage that she liked to play in the water and they made a game out of it. That was Bebe!

She loved to play in water, trying to eat the water coming out of a hose and loving to drink from the outside faucet or the hose. When we moved to the lake, she would swim in the water and take a walk under the boat dock to cool off in the summer. Her golden retriever momma gave her those genes. Water meant fun.

Early on, Bebe would gather all my socks from the laundry pile and bring them one by one into the living room and make a little sock pile. She only brought my socks, passing up socks belonging to anyone else. She wanted everyone to know she was my dog.

I didn’t have to teach her to retrieve a tennis ball. The golden retriever in her would compel her to bring back the ball back to me and drop it at my feet, begging me to throw it one more time. Bebe loved this game. In her later years, Bebe taught herself to fold rugs. When we left her inside, she would fold every throw rug in the house.

A few years after Bebe came to us, Lucy and I adopted another of Derrick’s dogs, Colonel. Colonel was also an Australian Shepherd and he attached himself to Lucy.

Colonel is also a gentleman, and when I would offer Bebe and Colonel a snack, Colonel would not accept a snack unless I gave one to Bebe first. When we visited our little white house in Mississippi, Bebe and Colonel would chase each other all over the big yard down there. Getting away from the confines of the city allowed them to let it all hang out, especially their tongues after a good chase.

The years flew by and Lucy and I took Bebe and Colonel with us on our trips wherever we could. They both loved to ride and were really good travelers.

We noticed that not many people travel with two big dogs, Colonel weighs 85 pounds. and Bebe weighed 65. Nevertheless, it has been fun, especially for my dogs. McDonalds was their favorite stop.

A couple of years ago, Bebe developed a growth on her neck, and when it was removed, Dr. Cain said that it was a slow growing cancer. Months later, another growth appeared and it was non-operative. Dr. Cain told me that the cancer had spread and that it would be a matter of weeks and, at most, a few months before Bebe would leave us. Well, he was right. That was March 9th and yesterday was April 27th.


Dr. Cain said she would not be in pain, but it has been a slippery slope downward since that day. I will spare you the details, except that Lucy cooked all of Bebe’s favorites, including chicken and rice, these past few weeks, trying to prolong any enjoyment of life that Bebe could absorb.

Bebe knew when it was Saturday. Saturday was the day that we loaded the SUV and went to the recycling center and to the cleaners and ran all of the other errands that accumulated during the week.

Bebe never tried to go with me Monday thru Friday, knowing that these were work days. But Saturday was different. That was the day that we went for a ride. Her eyes were brighter on Saturday and she bounced around a lot more, going round and round (a trick Lucy taught her) on Saturdays, begging to go with me.

Her hearing was so keen that she actually heard my foot go through my blue jeans when I was dressing on Saturday. I suppose they made a different sound compared to my Dockers. Her smiling face immediately appeared at my bedroom door before my second leg went thru my jeans, even though she might have been napping in the foyer, her favorite spot for napping.

It is difficult to know when one has wrung all of the pleasures out of life and to know when life has become too difficult to endure.

When my Dad was in the hospital with all of the tubes in him, he tried to tell me something and I could not understand what it was. Some time during the night, I finally figured it out. He had asked me if this had to go on indefinitely.

This was a message to me. Medical science was no longer prolonging life, but now it was prolonging the process of death. What my Dad had told me on his deathbed helped me with my decision regarding Bebe.

It was Saturday, her favorite day. All of the pleasures of life had slowly slipped away and all of the miseries of dying were upon her. Derrick and Nancy, his fiance, spent Friday night with us. I called them up to tell Bebe goodbye.

Colonel stood between them, also telling Bebe goodbye as she lay on the living room floor. I picked her up and carried her to the SUV, crying all of the way.

Somehow, Colonel knew this was going to be the last Saturday morning ride for Bebe and I. Colonel usually can’t wait to get in the SUV with us, but today he didn’t even try. He just stood alone on the door step, watching us drive away. Colonel didn’t eat anything last night.

Lewis Grizzard, an author of several books and a daily column in the Atlanta Journal Newspaper, often wrote about his Labrador retriever named Catfish. Catfish died before Lewis passed away. The day after Lewis died; the Atlanta Journal published a now famous drawing of Catfish standing at the pearly gates to welcome Lewis to his world again.

Dogs must go to heaven, for heaven would not be heaven without our dogs. Bebe loved everybody and every other animal, if we can exempt squirrels. She was indeed a gentle soul.

Bebe could teach great lessons of love for everyone. She has joined my other dogs, Scottie, Lady, and Sarge in Dog Heaven and maybe she has by now met Trevie and maybe Charm, Paka and Red (dogs in my extended family). Colonel, Ginger, and Daisy will join her one day.

And when I take the last ride, I know that Bebe, just like Catfish, will be waiting for me. So Hasta Luego, Bebe.

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