Beau, First Captain of a boat he was. He gruffly barked orders as I took the tiller of his favorite vessel, our old wooden Bateau, a traditional crabbing boat. Together, we’d motor off into the distance in our almost daily adventures on the Chesapeake Bay on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The rougher the water was, the more we rejoiced. Beau was so big, that if you looked at us going out into the bay from behind, it looked as if there were two people in the boat! Surfing the waves upon our imminent return gave us great joy.
Beau, a one-hundred-ten pound Golden Retriever, was my best seafaring buddy and the only Captain that would gladly let me steer! He would await my arrival every day in our old, eighteen foot wooden bateau. Patience was his forte as he would sit or lay in the boat, always ready for immediate departure upon my return from work.
On one occasion, my Step-Mother, El and I had made a very grave mistake. We left the shore without Beau. About ten minutes later, we thought we saw something bobbing in the water. Upon looking back, we realized that our Captain was overboard and swimming, so we turned around for a rescue mission. Now, hauling in a wet, 110-pound dog is no easy feat. I’m not sure how we did it, but Captain Gratitude was now soaking wet and all aboard – motor on!
Beau had a certain fondness for fish. Dead fish are a pure, dog scent straight from heaven. One afternoon, Beau came home reeking of the most disgusting stink I had ever smelled. El and I set to work immediately. Poor Captain Beau was now at our command. Shampoo, perfume, powders and anything we could find now engulfed his newly scented aura. Later I found the source of the stink. Long dead on the beach laid a putrid Cod Fish, which was rotten and at least three to four feet long. I did my very best to wish it well and immediately sent it back out to sea with a stick …Yuck!
Beau was also fond of women’s underwear, namely mine. Innocently and nonchalantly he would mouth it up off the floor and promptly deposit it on the beach. Whenever I was missing underwear, I had a pretty darned good idea of where it might be!
Beau could spot and hear my little VW Bug rumbling homeward bound at least a quarter of a mile away. He would run out to greet me, followed by a good jog to the left of my car. How many human friends do any of us have, who would do that on a regular basis? I can’t think of any. Perhaps you are luckier than me!
During those days, I probably weighed about 118 pounds. I would sit Indian style and Beau took great joy sitting in my lap. Despite the fact that he weighed almost as much as me and that I couldn’t see in front of me worth a squat, he never once squished me. The last time I saw Beau, he tenderly sat in my lap. However, this time was different, because we both knew he was dying.
Beau Geste means beautiful gesture. He lived up to his name and I was grateful to live in Gratitude, Maryland, as well as to have great gratitude for those special times I had with my loving Beau (pun intended).