Tuesday, February 28, 2012

UN BEAU SOUVENIR - Brownie Comes Home

 Some members of the family were aware of the scheme – some were not.  The Shepherds were living in Paris in 1988.  Elizabeth was 11 and was going into 6ieme, the French equivalent of junior high school.  Word was that it would be a difficult transition.

She had asked about having a dog on a number of occasions, and each time the answer had been a polite no – with maybe a fish or a turtle thrown in to soften the rejection.  In the fall of 1988 the “dog” question came up again.  Eleanor saw Elizabeth’s point of view.  She decided to pray about the subject – if God could send a dog who would cost nothing to procure, maybe that would be a sign that Elizabeth should have her dog. 

When school resumed at the Lycée International, Allison Dearborn, Elizabeth’s friend, came back to announce that Laura, their collie, had given birth to a litter of pups.  News of the event shook our house at 5 rue Claude Debussy.  Elizabeth saw her dog. Eleanor’s prayer had been answered. The only barrier was convincing John and Glen.

One day after school Elizabeth went to the Dearborns and saw the pups.  All were black except one, appropriately named “Brownie”.  Elizabeth remembers holding Brownie up.  The rest of the litter was fast asleep, while Brownie, true to his nature as we were to later find out, was wide awake, and barking for someone to come and get him out of the tedium of the pen.  No sleep for him.  Elizabeth held him up, and he peed all over her – no doubt a sign of appropriation of his new found human.  Her skirt was wet, and her heart was set.

After much discussion the decision was made.  The dog would come home. We would give it a try.  John and Glen reluctantly acquiesced, but set a condition.  His name would be Beauregard, after the illustrious pooch of Pogo cartoons – Beauregard Bugleboy Bloodhound.  And so we made the trip to Maisons Lafitte to the Dearborns to get Beau.

He was ours, a tiny ball of fur with big dark eyes and the energy of a bomb.  The Dearborns said goodbye to “Brownie” and we put “Beau” in our car. 

Life was never the same after.   Applications of Javex to the basement floor to teach him to attend to his needs outside, and the doggie bed basket chewed to bits.  The little mutt seemed to be all teeth.  But when he cuddled into you – the wreckage did not matter.

Beau was given his bed in the basement and spent the night there – reluctantly admittedly, but he did it – for all of about 2 weeks.  After 15 sleepless nights due to whimpering and scratching, Beau’s sleeping quarters were relocated up 2 flights of stairs, next to the humans.  Within no time he was sleeping on the various beds, relocating himself throughout the night to make sure all was well and ensuring a warm spot on the bed for all. We had the door from the basement into the back garden redone to put in a swinging door so that Beau could come and go as he pleased.  The swoosh could be heard as he trotted in and out, scouting out the events in the back yard and alley.

Four weeks later we went to London, England for the weekend and took Beau back to the Dearborns to stay with them and Laura, his mother. Laura had welcomed him back with maternal concern – regurgitating her food for her pup in case the new humans were not feeding him properly.  As our plane touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport coming back we couldn’t wait to get out to the Dearborns to pick him up and bring him home.  The dog had won our hearts.

He was not what you would call a well-disciplined dog.  In fact, that objective would never be fully realized.  There are lingering differences of opinion in the family about why that was so.  But the beast remained independent to the end.
Winner of 2011
Word Guild Award
Christian Leadership

Winner of 2009
Word Guild
Award of Merit
Human Interest Story

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