Beau came to me when I was living in County Tipperary, Ireland. I was staying in a little stone cottage not far from Cashel, ancient capital of the South-western province of Munster, and ancestral home of my mother's family, the Leahys.

My friends were concerned that I was living all alone and possibly lonely, out there all by myself, so they suggested I get a dog to keep me company.  Well, I hadn't had a dog since I was in my teens, many years ago, but I well remembered the joy and love such a friend brings, so I agreed to have a look at a friends' dog they could no longer keep.

That was how Beau first came into my life.

The very next day, my young friend and her mother came out to bring Beau to meet me, and to see if I was interested in taking him off their hands.  I showed the ladies in and served them some tea while the introduction was made. Well, I'll tell you, he was gorgeous.  A beautiful Irish Border Collie with the biggest and most beautiful pair of brown eyes that I'd ever seen. 

It didn't take me but a moment to decide that yes, indeed, I wanted this beautiful pup in my life.  We finished our tea and I showed the ladies to their car, then I settled in to get to know my new best friend.

He was very nervous at first, never straying from my side and always wanting to be near me.  Until, that is, I picked up a stick to see if he would play "fetch" with me.  As soon as he saw that stick in my hand, he was gone!  He turned tail and ran into a nearby patch of forest, tail tucked between his legs.

At that moment, I knew that he had been terribly abused, and my heart went out to him, knowing as he did just how it felt.  You see, I had been terribly abused as a child, and I knew exactly how he felt.

It took nearly three hours of calling and coaxing before he came back and, when he finally did, he crawled on his belly the last few yards, obviously expecting a terrible beating for running off that way. Was he ever surprised by all the "Good boy's" and "Good dog's" he got instead.  I couldn't praise him highly enough for having the courage to come back to a new and strange, and possibly terrifying master.  That was the day I started the long uphill battle to win his heart and his love.

He had been terribly abused and neglected, as I later found out, and had to be shown how to live outside of an eight by ten walled in "yard." 

From what I found out later, he had been spoiled rotten by the young girls in the family, not even house-trained or taught the most basic of obedience skills, and had a stick taken to him by the mother at the least excuse ... a combination that made him lethally unstable, and a danger to me as well as anyone else!  It took a tremendous amount of effort on my part to win his trust and bring him around, but he proved to be a real fighter, and together we fought to overcome the legacy of abuse we both carried within our souls. 

Three months after he moved in with me, I found out I had to return to Canada, and I didn't have to think about it --- Beau was coming with me, and that was that.

So Beau is a Canadian dog now, living happily and healthily with me, and he's turned out to have the heart of a true champion.  He's crazy about Frisbees and tennis balls, but he will happily share his toys with all our friends' dogs too.  Ultimately, you see, Beau turned out to be highly intelligent and possessed a keen sense of fair play and yes, even compassion.  He's my pride and joy, and since I've become disabled and thus no longer able to take him for long walks, he comes up with games all his own that we can play instead.  We're lucky enough to have a large, fenced in yard where he can chase Frisbees and balls all day long.  I just brace myself against the back steps and knock tennis balls around the back yard, and he happily retrieves them and lay them in a little pile by my feet.

He always has enough energy for another 15 or 20 minutes of playtime, but lately it seems he's taken to pretending he needs a break just so that I can get off my aching legs a little sooner.  He knows just how much it hurts me to stand or walk for any amount of time.  I know he doesn't want me to feel bad, so he throws himself onto the ground in a happy little heap at my feet, as if to let me know, "that's enough now, we can go back inside and lay down again."  That's his keen sense of compassion at work, and of course his total and unconditional love and acceptance of me.

He bears almost no resemblance to the frightened and abused 11 month old pup he was when we first met.  He's grown into the wonderful, loyal and courageous dog I love so well.  His full name is "Beau Geste O'Mahuna"; of course the "Beau" part is pretty obvious, given what a handsome devil he is, but "Beau Geste O'Mahuna" translates literally into "a handsome jest at the expense of certain people who thought they were foisting off on me a dangerous dog who would soon have to be destroyed!"  You see, being an import, Beau has brought me top dollar when it comes to stud fees, not to mention being the best friend I could ever have asked for!  So much for the dangerous dog they wanted to palm off on some unsuspecting sucker!   

Yes indeed, he's come a looooong way from Tipperary!

Gary LittleBear (Canada)

"Tipperary," originally published in "Petwarmers," Tue, 9 Jan 2001 

To read the next story in Beau's life, please click here:





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