COLUMN: Love on four legs, dogs are children

My first child had a wet nose and four legs, and she tinkled every time she greeted me at the door. Her name was Buffy, and she was a beautiful, blond cocker spaniel that my friend Theresa rescued from a ditch alongside a Louisiana highway in 1992.
My husband and I, newlyweds at the time, were glad to take Buffy in and give her the home she deserved. When I called my father to tell him the news, he wasn’t a bit happy. It’s not that he didn’t like dogs. I grew up with plenty of them, and horses and cows and yard cats, too.
No, Daddy said he was hoping for a grandchild of the two-legged variety. I told him to be patient. He sighed.
Buffy died a couple of years later, and we went childless for a while. Then along came Beau, a soulful-eyed basset hound we took in when he lost his home. Daddy still wasn’t pleased.
At 18 months old, Beau was 36 pounds when he came to live with us. He wasn’t much older – but he was about 20 pounds heavier – when we dropped out of doggie obedience school. (There were several incidents with a yapper named Jaeger.) Later, at 68 pounds, Beau was a velvety lapdog who was pushed from my lap – but not my heart – when my father’s prayers were answered.
Beau slept by Mary Catherine’s crib even before her arrival in 2000, and the two were fast friends. He was equally welcoming when Sarah Claire arrived three years later. When our own home became broken five years ago, Beau remained with his dad and his sisters stayed with me. My heart still aches for my long-eared baby Beau Hound who’s now 14.
Then last Wednesday something wonderful happened.
“I just got the Pets of the Week pictures,” Daily Journal features editor Leslie Criss telephoned to tell me. “One of them is a basset hound named Katie, and I swear I’m looking at the spitting image of Beau Millah.”
I ran across the newsroom, and sure enough, there on Leslie’s computer screen was a basset hound with big eyes, bigger ears and even shorter legs. I called and made an appointment to see Katie that afternoon at the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society. I picked up the girls, told them I had a surprise and off we trotted.
When we laid eyes on her for the first time, Katie was filthy but friendly. She’d had pups recently and her long body was skinny and sagging. We adopted her on the spot – did you know the $75 adoption fee includes spaying or neutering? – and the girls and I spent the evening preparing for their little sister. We couldn’t find the pink bed we wanted, but we did buy a pink leash and collar and, best of all, a pretty pink bandanna.
She’s quiet, this new child of mine, and doesn’t have the energy her look-alike brother had at this age. (The vet guesstimates she might be 3 or 4.) And the name Katie seems to suit her, as does Katie Kate, Katie Girl and Katie Bird. More than once we’ve caught ourselves calling her Beau.
“Why don’t you call her Katie Beau?” asked my newsroom neighbor, Ginna Parsons. Why not, indeed.

Contact Ginny Miller at (662) 678-1582 or ginny.miller@djournal.com. To find a four-legged child of your own, call the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society at (662) 841-6500.

Ginny Miller/NEMS Daily Journal