Wednesday, April 24, 2013


           Beau adapted well to life in Canada.  He liked the open space.  He missed French cheese and he missed hearing the language of his homeland.  No surprise, then, that his heart leapt when he heard we were moving to Montreal.  He could live his bicultural dream – home life in English and the occasional sortie into the richness of French life.  Our house, in the Montreal suburb of Notre-Dame-de-Grace, offered lots of room and a great fenced in backyard.  Just down the street he could go to the Loyola campus of Concordia University to run.  Just behind Hingston Hall he found a group of other dogs who brought their owners with them while they attended lodge meeting running all over the expansive grounds.

            Beau loved it. He particularly liked the cultural richness.  He spoke fondly of the Friday night we were walking through Loyola when he got ahead of his humans and went down the stairs and in through the open doors of a building to attend a concert which was set to begin shortly.  Unfortunately, the humans did not seem to share his enthusiasm for the event and ushered him out pronto.

            Montreal offered a magnificent life – trips to Franklin Centre to pick apples in the fall.  There was one place he particularly liked with a small menagerie of animals that he would chase and try to coax into the herd.  He could go out to the Wight’s house in Pointe Claire and look for Fuzzball, the cat he had terrified when we had visited there about six years earlier. 

            On that occasion Eleanor, Glen and Beau had been sleeping in the spare bedroom in the basement.  Fuzzball was upstairs with the Wights.  At some juncture during the evening Fuzzball came downstairs.  When Beau went out to patrol the basement he discovered the feline interloper and give chase.  Fuzzball took off with Beau in hot pursuit.  We heard the shrill mewing and the hot barking and stirred from slumber as the cat clambered over our faces, followed a couple of seconds later by the pounding paws of the dog.  Over the bed they went and down the other side against the wall.  We barely had time to check our bruised faces before they returned – cat on the face followed by the pursuing dog.  The cat fled and hid in the furnace room, the dog patrolled restlessly and threateningly as we tried to figure out what had hit us.  On those occasions in the future when we visited Pointe Claire, Fuzzball was careful to give Beau a wide berth.  At the first opportunity, Fuzzball escaped to the porch across the street, under which she hid until two days after Beau’s departure.

            Montreal is a land of fierce winters – any native can testify to that.  Beau had not been acclimatized, given his life in France and Toronto, both with their somewhat milder winters.  As a result, when he awoke one morning in mid-January to find two and a half feet of freshly fallen snow, he turned around in disgust before setting a paw outside the back porch for his usual morning pee.  Glen, being the only one awake enough to function at Beau’s speed, kindly took it upon himself to dig a series of trenches, with the sophistication of a war vet, in order for Beau to proceed with his duties in the yard.  It worked out beautifully for the two of them – ensuring Beau kept out floors dry, and providing Glen with a cardio workout (that he wasn’t necessarily seeking).  It was, no doubt, one of the longer winters for Glen, given the numerous snowfalls….  Occasionally Beau actually used the paths that had been so carefully carved out for him.  

Beau loved junkets to the Salvation Army camp at Lac l’Achigan where he could run and rummage around in the forest, thought he never did develop a flair for swimming in the lake.  We think that his fear of water arose as a result of being trained not to bark, by being sprayed with water. 

The highlight was a week long vacation in the summer of 2003, spent with Andy, Elizabeth, Beau and Clovis, and shared with neighbours Danny and Sean and their respective dogs, Skip and Esko.  The campgrounds were suddenly swarmed with the city boys (les gars d’en ville), marking their territory and seeking opportune begging moments at various pique-nique opportunities.  They even made it half way around the lake on one particularly ambitious walk despite Beau’s 14 years.

Unfortunately, our stint in Montreal was all too brief. After only eight months we left for France again.  Elizabeth and John would stay in Montreal and Beau went to live with Elizabeth. After eleven years it was time for Eleanor and Glen to bid Beau farewell.  Eleanor drove Beau over to stay with the Pearos who were going to look after him until Elizabeth had moved into an apartment that could accommodate the dog.  Glen didn’t come, he could not stand to say good-bye to the pooch; such was the dog’s hold on his heart.
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

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