I penned the following in the days after I had to put my pal to sleep in July 2006. Having heard about your book, I thought I’d share Beezer’s story with you. (The form doesn’t seem to want to accept a picture, however).

Farewell my faithful friend.
It was a warm, late summer day in early September, 1993 when I first saw him. Standing on the sidewalk, waiting for my carpool partner to come down from her apartment, I looked to my right and was startled to see a dog standing there. He had appeared as if out of nowhere, this large, furry golden dog with pointy ears.

He looked at me and I at him. “Hello buddy,” I said. “Where did you come from?” I must have startled him, because he tried to cross busy Springfield Avenue in Maplewood, New Jersey. “No!”, I called out – then watched in horror as a big black sedan swerved, just missing him. He turned and ran back to the sidewalk. I rushed over to him, knelt down and wrapped my arms around him so he wouldn’t run into traffic again. “You okay, buddy?” I asked. He looked up at me and wagged his tail as a two girls spilled out of the grooming salon next door to where I had been standing.

“Is he your dog?”, one asked excitedly, probably ready to pounce on my for letting him run into the street. “No,” I replied. “I don’t know who he belongs to, he appeared out of nowhere.”

“Well, we’ll take him and call the local shelter, to see if anyone is missing a dog.”, she said. I was relieved that someone had him, so he wouldn’t wander into traffic again. As the girls put a lead on him and brought him back to their shop, my co-worker came down and asked what was going on. I told her, and she said she’d check to see what happened to the dog.

The days moved on, as they always do, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the golden yellow dog. My co-worker told me that the dog had gone from the groomers to a local vet and then onto a shelter in town. “You know”, she said, “you should adopt him.” I laughed – my lease specifically said no pets. Besides, he was a beautiful animal; someone would give him a good home.

The next week, I found out that there had been an adoption day at the shelter. The dog that had appeared out of nowhere was the only dog not to be adopted. If a home couldn’t be found for him, he would have to be destroyed. ‘The heck with my lease’, I thought. ‘I can’t let this dog be killed.’

So, on a warm autumn day in late September of 1993, I went to the shelter in Maplewood to see him. I knelt in front of his cage, wondering if he’d remember me. When ‘Butterscotch’, as they had named him, saw me, he jumped up, tail wagging feverishly. He came over to me almost shyly, jumped up and put a paw on the gate and started to whimper, tail still wagging a thousand miles a minute. I slipped my fingers through the fencing. He sniffed my fingers, then started licking them furiously.

I smiled and knew that I had to take him home. Looking up at the woman from the shelter, I said, still smiling, “I’ll take him”. Upon the suggestion of another co-worker, I named him “Beezer”, which was the nickname for John Vanbiesbrouck, the goalie for hockey’s New York Rangers.

I signed all the paperwork, paid the adoption fee and walked him outside. He jumped around, biting at the leash and wagging his tail At that moment a friendship was born that was a deep and loving as one could have with an animal – a friendship that endured for almost 13 years. That friendship was interrupted on July 19, 2006, when I had to put my beloved friend to sleep.

Beezer loved me and I loved him. He seemed to know that I saved him and I knew that he had saved me from the deep depression I had been in since my father had passed away 10 months before he walked into my life.

I brought Beezer home to an unsuspecting wife and landlord. Not a real animal lover, my wife tolerated the dog and was good to him. At first, we kept him in a dog crate next to the bed, not knowing how he’d react to being in our apartment.

Shortly after bringing him home, I woke up one morning and barely had my eyes open when I heard the sound of his tail thumping. I looked down to see him wagging his tail – he had been watching me and was excited to see me awake. Another day I woke up and saw him laying on his back sound asleep, legs in the air and tongue hanging out of his mouth. He slept the sleep of a creature that was content, happy and safe. I knew I had made the right choice.

Even though I offered to double my security deposit, the landlord said either the dog had to go or we had to go. So, we went. We found a pet friendly apartment, where we stayed for a few months, until I moved on again – with Beezer but minus my wife, who I eventually divorced. I moved back in with my Mom, which brought some benefits – I knew that Beezer would be well taken care of when I was at work and he could play with my Mom’s dog, Murphy.

Each day when I got home, Beezer would be there to greet me, jumping in the air, tail wagging furiously, licking my face as he cried happily. Beez and I would go out in the back yard, where he’d tear around like a lunatic, burning off the days pent up energy. Each night I’d try and take him for a long walk and laugh as he chased bugs and squirrels, pulling me down the street by his leash. He’d curl up on the floor next to my bed at night, then once I was asleep he’d gently jump onto the bottom of the bed and settle in for the night.

At first, I didn’t take him a lot of places with me because he was so excitable, but eventually I realized that the more I took him places and the more he interacted with people, the less excitable he was.

My next move came in early 1995, when, unhappy with the life I knew, I bolted to Connecticut to take a new job. Life in Connecticut was lonely. I knew no one. I worked in a bad section of Bridgeport and lived in an only marginally better area. I went to work and came right home, where a confused but faithful Beezer waited for me.

As the weather warmed, long, long walks became the order of the day. It wasn’t uncommon for Beezer and I to go for two hour walks. What else did we have to do? When not walking, I’d throw Beez in the car and we’d go driving around Fairfield County. He’d sit in the back seat of my two door car, his head on the console between the front seats, eyes glued on me most of the time. It seemed not to matter not to him where we were going, just that we were together.

The boredom in Connecticut led me to take on much additional shift work at my job, which led to my contracting pneumonia. Lying in bed alone one night, delirious with a high fever, having difficulty breathing and wondering if I was going to make it through the night, my only concern was ‘What would happen to my dog if I died?’ Would someone come looking for me, or would Beez be left alone to die in this apartment next to me? Fortunately, I made it through night and went back to NJ with Beezer, where my Mom helped nurse me back to health.

Unhappy with my life in Connecticut after only 6 months, I took a job with Shadow Traffic in New Jersey, knowing little how this move would change my life. So, Beezer and I moved again, back in with Mom.

This was my second stint at Shadow Traffic, but it was my first real management job, and I worked long hours, leaving less time for Beezer. He never seemed to mind – he was just happy to see me when I got home. My Mother was happy to have him around too – earlier that year she had to put her dog Murphy to sleep.

Among the old friends and new acquaintances I met back at Shadow Traffic was a young lady who worked for me named Lisa. Over the course of 1995 and the first half of 1996, we got to know each other better until one day in August she asked if I’d like to get together sometime. We decided we’d go out the following Sunday, with her coming out to my mothers house.

When she came to my house, the first one to greet her was Beezer. He ran to the door and jumped up, wagging his tail and crying happily. Little did Beezer or I suspect that he had just met his new “Mommy”.

Lisa and I dated and got engaged in 1999. But several months before we were to marry, Beezer suddenly took ill. My mother called me at work one day, and quietly said, “You’d better come home, something is wrong with the dog”. Beezer had started going the bathroom in the house, was falling down and having trouble getting up.

I got him to the Vet right away, where I found out that he had a canine auto-immune disease. There was a chance he wouldn’t live through the night, and he needed an immediate blood transfusion. Devastated and steeling myself for the worst, I authorized the Vet to do whatever she had to do to save him.

Beezer made it through the night, thanks to the blood transfusion. The Doctor directed me to a specialist, where they did more tests and decided a course of action. The Vet cautioned me that the survival rate from this disease was low, and that Beezer could die at anytime. If he did survive, he probably wouldn’t survive more than a year or two.

But Beezer wasn’t going to go so easily. The medicine did its job, and slowly but surely he got better. He was never the frisky lunatic he had been before, but he was healthy, albeit heavier due to the steroids he was on.

Lisa and I were finally married in October, 1999. We moved into an apartment with Beezer and settled down to married life. While I had moved on from Shadow Traffic, Lisa still worked the mornings there. She was home by 2pm everyday, so Beezer was home alone less often. We took him with us as often as we could when we went out.

In December, 1999, our ‘family’ expanded with the addition of a stray cat we called ‘Sarge’, named after Lisa’s Dad, who had been a Sergeant in the US Army. Sarge lived in the second bedroom of our apartment, behind a gate, so when Beezer would chase him through the apartment, he’d jump over the gate, a step ahead of the dog.

The next year, our family grew again, with the addition of our first child, Brendan. With Lisa in the hospital, I brought home the cap Brendan wore the day he was born and let Beez sniff it. He took a sniff and looked at me suspiciously. When we brought Brendan home, I put the car seat down on the living room floor. Beezer looked at the car seat, then looked at me, looked at the car seat again and took a good long sniff. He then looked up at me as if to say, “What did you bring home now?”.

The next year, we moved in with Lisa’s Dad, into the house she had grown up in. It was yet another home for Beezer to adapt to, which he did easily. Time moved on, Brendan grew up and learned to love the big furry dog he called “Bee-doo”. When he got old enough, he loved to put the leash on Beezer and walk him around the house and the yard.

As the time passed, Beezer started to move a little slower. We adopted a second stray cat in 2002, which we called ‘Smudge’. Once again Beezer looked at me as if to say, “Where did all these other creatures come from?” The addition of a new cat seemed to help Beezer keep young, as he would chase her around the house and bark at her.

Unfortunately, dogs don’t stay young forever. Beezer started to have more and more trouble getting up and moving around. Instead of climbing the stairs at night and sleeping next to my side of the bed, as he used to do, he started sleeping downstairs at night.

He started having trouble with his teeth and then his skin. Dental work and occasional doses of anti-biotic and steroids were only temporary solutions. Early in 2006, I had to take him back to the vet for another skin rash and more problems with his back legs. More medicine, this time with the addition of pain killers, seemed to perk him up, but only briefly.

In June of 2006, our family grew yet again, this time with addition of our daughter, Keira. Once again Beezer gave me that “What now?” look.

As our daughter grew, Beezer seemed to worsen steadily. More than once, my son fell over him, causing Beezer to growl menacingly. It was obvious that he was in pain. He had also developed a wheeze, and was falling down at least once day. Finally, one day when I went to put his leash on to take him out, he tried to bite me.

I knew then that he was in more pain than I had realized. I also knew that it was the pain that made him snap at me, for five minutes after he tried to bite me; he was wagging his tail and rolling over to have his tummy rubbed.

However, I had more than myself to think about. I was able to snatch my hand away before he bit me. Would my son be able to move that fast? What if my wife bumped into him with the baby in her arms? I made the dreaded call to the vet and asked, “Is it time?” She agreed that it was.

On July 19th, another warm summer day not unlike the day I first laid eyes upon him, I drove to the vet with my faithful friend in the back of my Jeep. I had laid the back seats down so I could see him, talking to him as often as possible on the ride out.

When we got to the vets, Beezer knew something was up. As we sat in the exam room waiting for the Doctor, he came up to me wagging his tail. He licked my face, then lay down under my legs, staying as close to me as possible.

The Doctor came in and frowned. She had treated Beezer since he had sick in ’99. She explained to me what was going to happen, and then asked if I was ready. I wasn’t, but I picked my friend up and put him on the table. She listened to his labored breathing and told me “You are doing the right thing; it sounds like he has developed a respiratory disease as well.”

Once again, Beezer wasn’t ready to go. The Doctor couldn’t find a vein on his right leg, so we switched sides. Beezer’s head perked up and he looked at me as if to say, “Can we go now?”

After buzzing some of his fur on his left front leg, the Doctor found a vein. She rubbed his head and spoke to Beezer, telling him “You’re such a handsome dog”. As tears ran down my face, I held him tight around the neck as she undid the tourniquet and let the medicine do its thing. As his body began to sag and my buddy faded away from me, I whispered in his ear, “It’s alright buddy. I love you. No more pain…everything is going to be alright.” Within a few moments, he was gone. The Doctor listened to his heart and made it official. My faithful friend was dead.

She slipped out of the room and left me alone with my beloved dog. I continued to stroke his hair as I sobbed, telling him how sorry I was that it had to come to this, but that I knew he was in a better place now. I slipped off his color and leash and clutched them in my hand. Along with my memories, they were all I had left now. Hard to believe 13 years had gone by in the blink of an eye.

When the Doctor returned, she hugged me and told me how sorry she was, then told me she thought I was very brave for making this decision. I didn’t feel brave, just empty.

I left my buddy on the table, head resting on his paws as if he was asleep. I kissed his head and said goodbye one last time, then turned and walked out the door, tears still streaming down my face.

I know that Beezer is no longer in pain, that he’s in a better place now. He’s playing with other dogs, chasing cats and rabbits, vibrant and full of energy. Someday we’ll meet again, and he’ll run up to me and jump in the air and spin around like he did so many times when I came home before, then he’ll lick my face like mad, lay down and have me rub his tummy.

Until that day, I have my memories of the scrawny dog that wandered into my world and changed my life on a warm, late summer’s day in September 1993. Thanks for being part of my life Beezer, I miss you.

Martin from NJ

One Response

  1. Ricky Mills Says:

    Martin, Many of us are with you. . .have gone through the same thing.