Back before the holidays, November 17 to be exact, we lost Bea. Bea was our 10-year old Brussels Griffon, our treasured pet for all these years. She was a silver-gray, 12-pound bundle of love and life.
Bea came to us in 2012 while I was out of town on a business trip. We had been wanting another dog for a while, and spouse Mary Jon found her as a rescue at the Jackson County Animal Shelter. She texted me a photo of Bea and said, “Hey, we’re back in the dog business.”
When I returned home, Bea didn’t like me. Well, maybe not that, but she didn’t know what to do with me. I hadn’t been there when she came to her new home, so I took a little getting used to. For about the first couple of weeks we had her, she would bark at me when I entered the house, and not in a good way. I had to prove myself to her.
I eventually did, and from then on, Bea and I built a very close relationship. She was smart as a whip, a real worker around the yard and house (a genetic Griff characteristic), and very athletic. She would fly around the back yard, and bound like a deer. She accumulated about 30 or so toys over the years, and she played with and took care of every single one of them.
About a year or two after Bea came to us, Mary Jon came across a little stray dog on Ingalls Avenue, picked it up and brought it home so we could clean her up and take her to a shelter. We wondered how Bea would handle having another pup around for a couple of days, but she accepted the bedraggled newcomer and was very supportive.
Turns out the little white ball of fur newbie was some sort of poodle mix, just a bit smaller than Bea, and about one year younger. Every day, I’d say “we gotta find a home for that little white dog,” but as friends and family would come by and see the dynamics of the situation, they’d say “that dog isn’t going anywhere.”
Sure enough, we decided Bea needed a sister, so Lily, as we named her, became a part of the family. For the next decade or so, those two pups became closely bonded as a wonderful pair. It is true, as dog experts and common wisdom will tell you, that, when possible, having more than one pet is positive for the animals and yourselves.
The reason I took so long to write this tribute to Bea is that we have really struggled with her loss. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t mind telling you that I have tears in my eyes as I write this.
Losing Bea has made me think back about all the cool pets I/we have had throughout the years. I would recommend that you do the same—I think you’ll be glad you did. Here’s my honor roll.
Tag— My first pet (he was there when I was born), a white and black mixed breed dog with a lot of basset hound in him. Once, when we were out for a ride in the car, Tag hopped out unbeknownst to us at a gas station across town. We were in panic mode back at the house until, no problem, up walked Tag, having found home from two miles away.
Cuddles— First cat, a black and white short-hair who lived up to his name.
Midnight— An all-black Persian-mix cat with golden eyes. When I was home from college and would come in late at night, he’d be waiting outside of the front door to talk over my evening and see me in.
Matt— This was our first pet as a couple. He was a beautiful gray Russian Blue cat, bred up in Vancleave. Matt was in an apartment and two houses with us, and lived to be nineteen. Often slept on top of the TV, with his tail hanging down over the screen as we watched.
Boston— When our boys were ten and eight, they said they wanted a dog, so we found this Peekapoo, who was white with a trace of a golden streak down his back. Big personality, and made it to age 15.
We had quite a gap after Boston left us—as with the loss of all pets, it was difficult, and we didn’t want to think about another for a while. Then, we got used to not having a four-legged family member and the responsibilities that go with it. I am so, so glad that we eventually said, aw, come on, we need a pet again, and brought Bea, and then Lily, into our lives.
As we continue to work through the grief of losing Bea, I am awash with so many wonderful memories of her. One of my favorites will always be this: whenever I would leave the house, Bea would always—and I mean always—come to the front foyer and see me off. It was her way of saying I love you, I know you’ll be back, and I’ll be here waiting for you. Mary Jon, Lily, and I still miss our Bea, but we know she’s still here in spirit, and I know she’ll always be in the foyer, seeing me off safely.