There was a funeral in Troy Fitzpatrick’s backyard a few afternoons ago. It was under a live oak. It was a well-attended service. Troy’s kids, were there. His wife, one neighbor boy.
Troy said a few words. Something to the tune of: “Dear Lord, we ask you to welcome Beau into heaven with open arms.”
Beau. He was a good boy. A rescue dog.
Eight years ago, Troy had just lost his job as a salesman for a window company.
“I was a mess,” he said. “So depressed, you know, I’s thinking: ‘What the hell are we gonna do?’”
So the Fitzpatricks did what any normal family does during moments of heartache. They went to the animal shelter.
“Must’ve played with a hundred dogs,” said Troy. “Didn’t find just one, we found tons. And then we met Beau.”
The dog had already been named. It was the name that struck a chord with Troy. It was his late father’s name.
Beau was reddish with a gentle personality. He’d been born in the shelter, then adopted as a puppy.
Beau’s first owner left town and took Beau with him. A year after, the shelter got a call from Nashville, Tennessee.
Someone had found Beau in the woods without a collar. The microchip under his skin led to the shelter where Beau was born. The shelter called Beau’s owner.
The man admitted to leaving Beau on the side of a country road—for dead.
A shelter volunteer drove seven hours to get the dog. He stayed in the shelter for one year after that.
Until Troy’s family visited.
Beau became a member of the family. He went to baseball and soccer games. He sat beside Troy during supper—and ate scraps. He slept in the kid’s bedroom. He played hard. He spent summers laying beneath an oak in the backyard.
Beau loved apples, fish, and snotty Kleenexes. He hated smoke.
“Whenever my wife cooked,” said Troy. “And something made a little smoke, Beau would freak out. Learned to let him outside whenever we used the stove.”
One day, Beau wandered out of the yard and trotted along the highway.
Someone called Troy. They said they’d seen a stray on the interstate. A reddish dog.
Troy went to find the animal. Four hours later, he saw a carcass on the shoulder. It was stiff.
Troy admits he can’t talk about it without tears.
“He was my family,” he said. “As much as my kids or wife. Felt like someone stabbed me in the stomach.”
He brought the body home and wrapped it in a fitted bedsheet. He dug a hole in the same place where Beau parked himself on hot days.
They tossed a few toys into the grave. The kids painted a rock for a headstone.
“Woke up the other morning,” said Troy. “There wasn’t anybody at my bedside, needing to go outside and pee. Nobody prepares you for that.
“Hey, thanks for listening. Guess I just needed to tell somebody about Beau.”
My life is better because you did, Troy.
Rest easy, Beau.