I thought I should share my thoughts and tell the story of Bob, my beloved beagle, who left this earth on February 19, 2010. My heart still throbs for him-he lives there forever.
In the summer of 1996, I lost three friends to AIDS in four months. I was still recovering from the loss of my best friend George who had died a year and a half before. I moved to an apartment on Garfield Place in Park Slope so I could have a dog.
A couple who lived on Eighth Avenue called to me to see if I could board their dog while they were at a wedding in San Diego. They had just taken in Bob, and had another dog as well. Bob had been badly abused-they were his third owners. The second owner, a woman who lived in Carroll Gardens brought him to Prospect Park for adoption. She could not handle him. From what I could ascertain, the first family did not know to handle him, and he was beaten. After the second owner had him, she lost control of the leash and he ended being caught in a bush near the entrance to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and lived there for a week. Emaciated, friends of the first owners recognized him. (I was told he was called PJ) and returned him to first family who re-united him with the second owner. She nursed him back to health and found a new home for him.
I had to make a few visits to meet Bob to see if I could board him as he was particularly frightened of men. By the second visit, he seemed comfortable enough, though when he walked he would keep turning his head, as if someone was going to beat him. It was painful to watch.
He showed up at my apartment on Garfield Place and I began taking care of him. He was not completely housebroken and it was a bit of a task. On the second day I had him, he came into the bathroom and licked my feet while I was shaving. The next day I dropped off laundry at the laundromat on the corner, carrying the laundry and holding Bob's lease in the other hand. After I put down the bag of laundry, I lost control of the leash and he darted out of the laundromat.
It was beginning to rain and I panicked, running up the street, calling him name. What was I to tell the owners? That I lost their dog? As I approached my house, there he was, waiting for me. He had always been waiting for me.
I knew we were meant to be together. When I walked him, neighbors and friends said, "that's your dog." When the couple returned from the wedding a week later, they called me in the evening. "How is Bob?" they asked. I told them he was very good and that I wanted to keep him. We slept on it that night and spoke in the morning. It was one of the hardest nights of my life. They asked me the next morning if I still felt the same way and I said I did. We agreed that he would be mine.
It was hard at first-he was peeing in the house and it often took forever to get him to do all his business. But I did what needed to be done. Most mornings were spent in Prospect Park where he loved to run off leash and run he could. Like no dog you have ever seen. He had his friends whom he loved, many of whom he is with now as they left as well. Bailey, Fred, Tricky, Daisy, Barney and the list goes on and on.
Although he did not like riding in the car, he loved running on the beach in Provincetown. I would split the trip into two legs, finding a dog friendly motel in Connecticut and getting up early the next day to drive into Provincetown. The back cottage at the Clarendon House was our second home. Dale, the proprietor loved Bob and defended his howling when I would leave him in the cottage alone. Though he was not supposed to be in the main house, Dale would let him join the other guests for breakfast, which I might add, remain some of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten.
The summer I dated Leonard, he was also a hit on Fire Island, where he was awarded prizes at the post summer get-together. Bob was a lovable dog who loved people and other dogs, despite his troubled beginnings. He remains an inspiration for me and always will.
He lived with arthritis most of his life-beagles are susceptible and I believe he came from a puppy mill. I had many scares, once bringing him to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan for treatment. But he persevered and loved running in Owl's Head Park near my apartment in Bay Ridge.
The last three plus weeks of his life were hard. I woke on a Tuesday morning to discover he was breathing very heavily and could not walk. I carried him to the car and the vet and he was very distressed. My vet, Julie Morris, brought him back to life and we had a few good weeks. For that I am grateful. It was hard to let go but he was not eating and could not walk and it was time. I miss him so much-he was the kindest being I have ever known.
I sit here in my home office, writing and crying-he is no longer sitting on my bed with me. He was such a joy to have here-he slept next to me for nearly fourteen years. He leaves many friends, especially his Aunts Jeannie and Sofia, who took good care of him in my absence. My heart aches and I know he is in a better place. I will miss him forever.