Beau was a breed of dog known as a treeing walker coonhound, a black, white and brown goofball who resembled Winston Churchill when he had a rawhide chew dangling from his droopy jowls like a cigar. To my knowledge he never treed a raccoon but, like the dog in the movie "Up," all you had to do was say, "squirrel" and he was out the door bounding like a gazelle.
Beau had more personality and charisma than most people and was certainly more good-natured and trustworthy than most people. He loved everybody and everything with the possible exception of squirrels. He found our cat, Godzuki, under the porch step when Godzuki was only weeks old and adopted him right off the bat just as Zuki adopted Beau as his surrogate mother. I have pictures of Beau, whose head was as big as Zuki, using Zuki as a pillow and vice versa. They were inseparable. Until Saturday.
Beau liked to roam the hayfields, pastures and woods behind our house stretching for a half mile back to Highway 6 west of Oxford. He would take mud baths in the small pond at the foot of the hill and then seek out the most smelly, disgusting thing his hound dog nose could find and proceed to roll around in it. He'd come home muddy, wet and smelling like week-old garbage.
Until Saturday. My wife and I had planned on making the trip to Tupelo to visit my mother for Mother's Day on Saturday but as the time to leave approached, we couldn't find Beau. My wife had let him out the night before as she's done a million times before but he's usually home in time for breakfast.
My wife couldn't bear to leave without knowing Beau's whereabouts so I decided to make the trip alone and leave her behind to search for Beau. When I returned home about 4 that afternoon Beau still hadn't returned. A while later the doorbell rang. It was one of our neighbors with tears in her eyes.
Beau had apparently wandered out onto the highway and been hit by a car. He was already gone when I reached him on the side of the road. We've never known him to wander as far as the highway, much less attempt to cross it. Who knows what he was after. Another dog? A new, more disgusting perfume? A squirrel?
We'll never know for sure but one thing is certain, he will be sorely missed for a long time to come and the house is now just too damned quiet.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.