“…as soon as she began washing her master, she at once knew the scar…”
Homer: The Odyssey, Ch. 19 (trans. Butler)
In March I met a man when I had shopped,
And tales of dogs we bantered and we swapped;
He’d raised some greyhounds, and was very wise
About the ways of dogs and dog supplies.
He much admired the three I had in hand:
Beloved Henny, shepard-mastiff friend;
And Licker, U.S. bulldog through and through,
A Johnson breed, if ever such were true.
Our gentle Cherry, blue-nosed Pitbull fine;
She rounded out the trio’s chorus line.
He took my number, swore he’d call quite soon
And show me photos of his hound platoon.
I thought no more about it, save to smile
And wonder if he’d ever bring the file.
But call he did one day in early June
Excited and most anxious to commune
And share with me his news about a hound
He’d found while searching through an auto pound.
“A finer dog I’ve never seen before,
His coat, his shape, his manner you’d adore.
Much like your glorious Licker, smaller, though,
And muscled like a boxer. Name is ‘Beau.’
You’ve got to save him, he’s in trouble now,
Infested with such ticks and fleas, I vow
There must be thousands, and he bears his pain
With noble airs and wags without complaint.
Please go to see him soon; I told him you’d
Come quick to rescue him from certain doom.”
“Give to all who ask, and go the extra mile,”
Requirements are requirements, with no guile,
Help all in need, or else the judgment’s long
Eternity forever, and until the final gong.
Jose and I rode to the auto pound
And asked the guard if Beau the dog was ‘round.
He smiled, and said “Of course! He’ll see you now!”
He called for him by shouting “Beau!” aloud.
No calling twice. Out of a car he ran
And wagging, greeted us with cheery mien.
As white as white could be he was, though dirt
With ticks on every inch and every paw and girt
His head, his ears and all as leopards display
With spots; the crawling legs and mandibles of prey
Were awful to behold. His agony was surely most extreme
But yet he smiled, his bright brown eyes agleam.
He yearned to stay nearby, and bravely welcomed us
Into his humble home, no bark, no fuss.
To pat him on a clear spot was a trick,
So covered was he with all types of ticks.
The gray, fat females, bursting to give birth,
The brown Deer ticks with narrow girth,
The large and common Lone Star’s dorsal shield
Tiny Nymph ticks and the Lyme disease they wield.
Beau clearly was a pietist at heart
Most anxious to display his noble art
While seeking in your face a nod, or smiling,
A transitory link for love’s beguiling.
No friendlier person ever have I known
Whose deep affection from the outset shone.
Jose and I adored him right away,
And asked the guardsman how he’d come to stay.
He was a pleasant soul, and glad to tell,
And clearly liked the dog and fed him well.
“He wandered in here back in early May.
I feed him daily, and he wants to stay.
I bet he never lived at home or house
But still he does his business on the outs.
He sure could leave at any time he wished,
I never thought to keep him on a leash.
I spray him for the ticks from time to time,
But there’s so much it’s hopeless; it’s a crime.
Just doesn’t seem to bother him too much,
He’s friendly, but he’s weird to touch
With all those ticks about him everywhere
I doubt he’s happy but don’t seem to care.”
“I’d like to ask you, friend, if you don’t mind
If you would be OK and so inclined
To let us take the dog to home with me
And introduce him to our friends and family.”
The truth is that my heart just yearned for Beau,
It hurt to see him quite infested so
And covered everywhere with crawling mites
That drank his blood all day and every night.
I sought to save him, to preserve his health
To bring him to a peace devoid of filth.
And while I really didn’t quite yet know
How still another dog would fit at home
My intuition told me that his grace
Would fit quite well with us, and in our place
Licker, Cher and Hennessy would enjoy
The sweetness of this bright Caucasian boy
As patient as a saint, and as white as snow,
I was right sure that they’d delight in Beau.
I knew, of course, dynamics unforeseen,
We couldn’t know which dog or dogs would lean
Towards him in fear or friendship, yet I hoped
That none of them would bite or be provoked
So all would welcome him with open paws
And take him in and love him, tooth and claw.
My thoughts were interrupted by the man
Who stood there quietly, considering our plan,
Slowly then he spoke, and with a modest mien,
Said thoughtfully and clearly, unforeseen,
“He wandered in here one day, and just stayed.
I fed him and he never seemed afraid
To walk around and sit in cars and smile
And now and then, I’d spray him, for a while
The ticks would seem to leave, but back they came
I couldn’t get them down – a numbers game
They always seemed to win, against the spray
But maybe I could pluck and wash away
Those nasty beasts. I never found the time
To really help him out, and more’s the crime
Because he really is a good dog, and a friend.
I’d miss him, but with you he’ll likely mend.
So take him if you wish; he won’t complain,
But let me know the outcome when you can.”
We knelt and then we spoke with Beau a while,
He looked at us, and even seemed to smile
(So many times henceforth I saw that grin
From his heart straight to mine, from ear to chin.
He had a way of looking through your face
And deep into your deepest heart’s embrace
No other dog I’ve had was more attuned
To pierce your heart with sweet of sweetest wound).
Truth is we never know the depth of love
Until it’s lost or we’re eternally bereft of
What it might mean to us, our lives and more,
Forever glimmering on some distant shore.
That smile confirmed my hopes, in a heartbeat,
Obedient at once, he jumped upon the seat.
We drove away, most anxious to get home,
Excise the ticks infesting Beau’s sweet frame.
The while we drove I watched him in the back,
The mirror could allow me