Beau? The Portuguese Water Dog? Sound Familiar? My dog is the same exact breed and similarly named to the Obama’s dog, Bo, though the similarities stop there. Side note: we had him before the Obama’s did, I swear. Though he was the “first” Beau, he is certainly no first dog. Regality, obedience and manners are not attributes that our Beau has been blessed with, but we love him anyway.
Though he is now 7 years old, about 49 in dog years, he is none the wiser. Beauregard, Beau, Beaud-y, Bro, Roe, Rody. These have all become names that he (does not) answer to. The real issue here was naming a dog whose name rhymes with the word “No”. How do you train a puppy using commands like “NO” when he assumes you’re just calling him to get his attention? You don’t, that’s how. Petsmart training proved to be disastrous when he decided to show the world that he could live up to the potential of his ancestors who worked on the fishing boats in Portugal, by sitting in the communal water bowl. The shame.
The runt of his litter (naturally) Beau was a surprise from my Dad. This now 85-pound monstrosity was once a little white fluff that resembled a lamb and was small enough to fit in your lap. His size does not stop him now, because why would it? He will launch himself at you full throttle and squeeze up onto the armchair to snuggle. The weight and body heat become so unbearable that you have no choice but to surrender your seat and relocate. Maybe he is the smart one after all.
I once witnessed him walk into the living room, look back and forth from one armchair to another, sigh, and finally make his choice of where he would park it for the next two hours to nap. Let me just clarify…THAT WAS THE HARDEST DECISION OF HIS DAY. Can you just imagine what life would be like if one of the hardest decisions of your day would be where you wanted to take a nap?
Life wasn’t always this easy, Beau was not always an only dog-child, though he always acted like it. His need for attention is insatiable. If a human is in his vicinity and a hand is not on him, he is whining, crying or whimpering. That’s all it takes sometimes, you don’t even have to pet him, so long as he feels the weight of another person’s hand on his back, he feels the love and that’s enough. If you aren’t petting him to his satisfaction he “paws” you by clubbing you over and over with his paw until you give in. It is completely annoying and slightly abusive.
Although, shame on you if you ever try to bring someone new over. Upon entering our home Beau takes it upon himself to give our guests a proper greeting by taking a running start and crotch diving head first into their lap. Nothing says welcome to our home like an uncomfortable wet dog mush stain on your pants. In his defense, he really is just right at the perfect height, he almost can’t help it.
To say his is just misbehaved is unfair, because it comes with its reasoning. He has undiagnosed neurosis that includes fear of the rug in our foyer, howling at the ringing phone, and gnawing his paws uncontrollably. The fear of the rug we have in the foyer comes really as a result of his own mistakes. Excited to see who was home, he bolted down the stairs, lost his footing on the slick marble floor, tried to seek balance on the free floating rug and rode it like a magic carpet ride all the way into the wall to which he came crashing with a thud. He hasn’t been the same since. You now have to physically guide him down the stairs and around the rug or he will sit and bark at the top of the stairs until someone comes and saves him. He is a giant furry baby.
The howling at the ringing telephone isn’t really something we feel bad about, because to be quite honest, it is hysterical. The phone rings to the tone of Beethoven’s symphony and Beau likes to add his own vocals. He gets so worked up into a full head back howl that 97% of the time any of us answers the phone we are rudely laughing.
After our other dog recently went to doggy heaven, Beau’s behavior has gotten worse as a symptom of his sadness. He gnaws his paw incessantly to the point where his saliva has turned them brown. It’s so noticeable now that people will actually stop me on walks to ask what breed he is and will comment on the unusual markings on his paws. It’s a sin really, the poor thing. We have tried everything medically to help him with his neurotic anxieties as well as some home remedies including the thunder jacket (for a newborn baby swaddling effect), the cone of shame (to stop the paw gnawing) and even little slip on dog booties which if anyone watches “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”, imagine the kitten mittens scene and that about sums up why that option didn’t work.
We had a Portuguese Water Dog in the past and he was the definition of obedient. No dog could ever measure up though, and Beau really took this idea running. What he lacks in intelligence he makes up with his gentle soul and endless love for anyone he meets. I have a theory as to why a dog this misbehaved could win anyone over with his looks and charm. He has the most humanistic, life-like eyes. It’s completely unnatural, but oddly comforting. You can just tell he is genuinely listening when you ask him, “Do these pants make my ass look big?” It only becomes uncomfortable when he watches you change, you feel like a once 90-year-old man is watching you behind those eyes. Pervert.
It’s not uncommon that a regular conversation will go something like, “How are you? How’s the family? How’s Beau?” Knowing I’ll always have a good Beau story, he has become a staple in my repertoire of stories I share when catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while or who I am just newly meeting. To say I am obsessed with this dog is an understatement. He came into our lives for a reason because I truly don’t believe most families would have put up with him for as long as we all have and by now he would have been in another shelter or worse. He has taught us all a lesson in patience and kindness and it becomes almost an honor when someone finally gets to meet the infamous Beau so they can experience for themselves what is so difficult to put into words.