How Could She Cope with Losing the Dog She Loved?

Beau was always by her side—even the clouds proved so.

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Josephine watches the sky as her winged pit bull, Beau observes behind her.

“Want to go on a walk?” I picked up Beau’s leash.

He jumped up, tail wagging. I scratched his ears, admiring his very distinctive, pit bull shape. He was large and round but with stick legs. Beau had the best ears around—they flipped forward at the tips and always perked up at the word “walk.”

“Come on, boy. Our spot is waiting,” I hooked the leash to his collar, and we made our way out the door.

Beau and I took a long, slow walk around the block every day. His shadow always appeared on the asphalt in the exact same spot. In that place, with the sun at our backs, the trees thinned out and our figures appeared like a painting. It was something I looked forward to. I could tell he enjoyed it too. That bullish head, flat nose, flipped-forward ears. I’d know that silhouette anywhere. Just like God knew the very number of hairs on my head, I believed he knew Beau’s distinctive shadow too. “Let’s go, Beau,” I said as we started off on our walk.

Inspirational Dog Stories

Beau stopped to bury his nose in a patch of grass. “Smell something good?” I said. To him our walks were the source of endless fascination.

But how many walks does he have left in him? I wondered. Beau had been diagnosed with malignant mast cell tumors, or mastocytoma. The cancer was in a very late stage, and my Beau was no pup at 11 years old.

The vet told us we should make his last months happy in every possible way. That meant sitting on the back porch while he sniffed the breeze and, of course, enjoying our walks around the block. “What does that cloud look like to you?” I asked Beau, pointing at the sky. He pulled his snout from the grass, his eyes going from the sky to me and back, his tongue peeking out from his big mouth. I ruffled his flipped-forward ears again.

We rounded the corner and reached our shadow spot. There we were: me and Beau, with the leash between us. I could make out my collar, the tail of my shirt. Beau was handsome and strong, all nose, shoulders and ears.

“Look, Beau! Look at those ears,” I said, pointing to the shadow. Beau cocked his head, his flipped ears wiggling. The shadow’s ears moved with him. I watched the shape of his tiny legs supporting that big body, his tongue emerging out of the side of his mouth, his long brown tail swaying. My Beau. I loved the portrait of us side by side—my number one pal and me. I wished it could last forever.

“Time to go home, Beau,” I said finally. We started our journey home, our shadows disappearing with us.

All too soon Beau and I took our last walk, and he was gone. Really gone. I let myself wallow around the house, mourning the loss of my very best friend.

One day I sat on the couch staring into the silence. I got up to escape outside. Out of habit I walked along the same path Beau and I always strolled. He won’t be at the shadow spot when I get there, I thought.

My hands were empty with no leash to hold. I glanced up. The sky was covered in clouds. I was grateful for that. I couldn’t see any shadow at all if there was no sun, so I wouldn’t miss Beau’s. Maybe this is God’s way of protecting me, I thought.

Just as I approached the spot, the sun broke out of the clouds with a blinding yellow flash. I looked down from the brightness to see my shadow—my shadow without Beau. The empty space beside me made my heart ache.

He’s gone forever, I thought. I’m all alone.

The sun disappeared, as if I’d wished it away. I looked up to thank God for sparing me. In the sky was a cloud. A cloud with a very distinctive shape. A shape that could only be Beau! Right down to his flipped-forward ears. Beau’s cloud was fleeting, but its comfort would stay forever. He walked with me still, but angels held his leash.

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