October 10, 2012
It is early morning on Wednesday and I am putting some matters to rest. Though many things are going on in my life, I am taking a few moments today for myself and an old friend. Though I will address the most pressing issues that require my attention today, I intend to spend some time in the sunshine with this old friend. We will speak like we have often done, in silent words of acknowledgement. We will be in the moment, we will be present and we will be together. If the day will co-operate, we will sit together doing what he likes to do the most. We will soak up the last of the autumn sun. We will spend our most precious currency on each other, the time we have today. Beckham is dying.
Just typing those last words causes me such grief. I am not ashamed of the tears I am shedding at this moment. Each one is an acknowledgement of how much this four, well three at the moment, legged friend means to me. At age 53, I have had many dogs in my life and I will likely give a home to a few more while I am on earth. Beckham is very special to me. It is not just how he has protected us these last 8 years. What idiot wants to jump in a yard with a barking Pit Bull? It is not just the over 30 rattlesnakes that were within 10 feet of our home that he helped to kill. More on that later. It is not just the hours of catching Frisbee with me on the Southern California beaches. Much more on that later. It is simple. Beckham is a true and loyal friend. Even now, as I know he is likely in pain, he greets me with a tail wag… (sorry, more tears).
He is the definition of friendship. He is loyal to his pack. If there is a problem between us, he is the first to seek restoration of that relationship. He has never demanded anything from me. If we are outside together, he simply comes up to me and leans against my knee. He is letting me know he was there for me and, if I wanted to, that he would be happy to get a pat. Time at the house, on the beach, on a walk or just lying around. Beckham was happiest with us and would welcome any friend of ours to our home. He accepted everyone and gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were worthy of being accepted into our pack.
I am typing this today to remind some of you who he is / was. I am sharing his story with others, so that they might get to know Beckham and appreciate his qualities. I am bringing to your attention those four legged friends you have around you and have had. I am reminding us all what a blessing they are to our lives. I am spending my time, my words and my talents to give voice to yet another blessing from God that we overlook. I am saying thank you to God for Beckham and I am getting prepared to say good bye.
Let me tell you a little about him. We were not looking for him, but we knew we needed another dog. My wife’s Cobi was losing his fight with his seizures and we wanted to make sure the trauma of losing him was not going to be so hard on our other dog Lexi. That did not work out so well, but that is another story. Buffy saw a posting for the local shelter for a Rot / Border Collie mix. We went to see him and eventually chose to take him home. He is still with us and we named him Donovan (yes, all of my dogs are named after Galaxy soccer players). Our son Shawn was walking around and found this little pup huddled in the corner with 2 other larger dogs. He said I had to see him, so I went over with him. We had the pup brought out and he was a skinny blonde Pit mix. I did not come to the shelter for two dogs, but I absolutely went home with two dogs. I am not sure how it happened, but I was not going to let that pup stay there any longer. It was not his rugged good looks. Beckham looked like all of the Tijuana strays you ever see on TV. Something about him though grabbed me.
He came home that day with Donovan and us and became family. He was a normal pup and did his share of damage, not nearly as much as Diddier ultimately did. He quickly rose in the pack and when we had to get rid of Lexi (she never recovered from losing Cobi) he became the undisputed pack leader. I remember the weekend we learned he loved catching Frisbee. We were camping with Chris, Patty, Maegan and our family in Morro Bay. It was very dense camping area and so people were really camping close to each other. When anyone was heard walking close to our tent, Beckham would let out this growl that was truly terrifying. It was this deep and clear growl that basically said “Don’t even think about it stupid!”. They never did.
That weekend we went out to the beach and brought some dog toys. We had a ball throwing toy that Beckham enjoyed fetching, but we also had this flying squirrel thing. It was like a Frisbee and flew when I threw it. When Beckham clamped his jaws around that thing in mid air, we signed the deal on our life long friendship. Once he caught a real Frisbee, the ball toss and the flying squirrel were history. I did not care how many of them he shredded while catching them. I did not care if the teeth marks cut my fingers when I threw it. He did not care if he was exhausted from running them down from behind. He did not care if his mouth was bleeding from catching it over and over again. We were a team and if we were near the beach together, we had a Frisbee for each other. Rincon was our favorite beach to play at. It is just north of Ventura and the idea of going there without bringing Beckham was just a non-starter. I know I have shared this video before, but I will share it again. I can not watch it now, but you can enjoy it for me.
Early on, Beckham learned that rattlesnakes were bad. He never cornered any other snake, but he never allowed a rattlesnake to escape. He would corner them and then he would start to bark rapidly. We called it the rattlesnake bark and we all knew what to do. I would run and get a gun and Buffy or the boys would run and get the dogs. We killed over 30 that way together. Nearly every one of them were within 10 feet of our house. He never got bit and neither did anybody else. He knew they were not welcome and he helped in the removal service. I still do not know how he learned it, but he did and did it really well.
It was the above trip to Rincon that we first learned there was something wrong with Beckham. He came home limping from that trip. We thought he had just strained his leg. It seemed to get a little better afterwards, but it would flare up when he ran on it. We brought him to Idaho when we sold our house and needed to find temporary homes for our dogs. Beckham stayed with my Mom. She is not known for her love of animals. We knew that Diddier had to much energy and Donovan had the right temperament, but he would have dug his way out and would have started on his way home to Buffy.
No, Beckham needed the rest and Mom would take good care of him. When we saw him again a few months later, he was not any better. We took him to the vet and last October he was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. We let the leg be and took him home, figuring he would not make it through the winter. To our surprise he made it and this past spring the leg looked worse and after another dog fight (even with cancer Beckham was not willing to give up the alpha spot) with Diddier, we took him back to the vet. We decided to have the leg removed and he came home again with us. That is how it has been these last 7 months. It was about 2 weeks ago that he started to go down hard. He barely gets up now and he is just not doing well. I have fought what I must do for some time now. He is upstairs still in bed as I type this, but soon, very soon I will have to put him down.
My Mom came over last night to say good bye to Beckham. You see, he won her over in those few months he stayed with her. She said only two dogs have ever done that to her. The other was Snoopy, another Pit Bull pup we had in Florida. Snoopy died from a snake bite. When he was bit, Mom was in the hospital. He waited for Mom to come home on the back stoop of their house. He died the day after she came home.
Well this has been cathartic for me and hopefully you have learned something about my friend. I am writing this now, because when he is gone, I will not have the words. My Mom says she will see him in heaven and that he can show her around when she gets there… more tears. I am not sure of the theology about that, but this I do know. Beckham loves me and my family. Beckham has been a precious gift to our family. Beckham has been loyal since we first met him and has never wavered in his loyalty. Beckham did not get these qualities by accident. Beckham has been a gift from God. God loves me and my family. God has always been loyal to our family. God is love. God will find a home for Beckham, when he leaves ours.
So I say thank you for being a part of our family. I say thank you for sharing your life with us. I say goodbye for now, my stoic and steady sun worshiper. Be well, run free and show them how well you catch a Frisbee. Good Boy!
I will say thank you in advance to you all for your concern and well wishes. Politics will be set aside and I will likely be quiet for a while. I will let you know when it is done. Be well.