I often have a bagel and a cup of coffee in the morning, sitting in front of Pumpernickels near Chevy Chase Circle, reading the newspaper, talking to the occasional friend that strolls by, and watching all sorts of people and their dogs. There really are a lot of dogs on that stretch of Connecticut Avenue, and all of them like to take walks at about 7 in the morning, it seems. The variety of dogs is extensive and, I am happy to say, there are very few pit bulls or German shepherds, both of which I find threatening to western civilization.
This morning, a young woman and her new beagle/basset puppy were at the next table. A cute frisky, but well behaved young dog, and it got me thinking about Beatie, the dog of my youth. I have written about Beatie before, but my thoughts this time were a little more extensive.
Beatie was a black cocker spaniel. I got him when I was maybe 3 years old, and he only stayed with us about two or three years, until shortly after my sister was born. I don’t remember if I wanted a dog or not, or if I asked for one. I was content with my imaginary friend, with whom I spent a lot of time. My imaginary friend was a soldier, and he was overseas in the war and would give me regular reports of his activities. I couldn’t wait for him to get back home. My imaginary friend was named Beatie. (Why, I don’t know; that was just his name.)
I don’t think my parents liked the idea that I had an imaginary friend. And perhaps especially a soldier imaginary friend fighting a war overseas. I think that they wanted to refocus my energy, and they thought a dog might do the trick. I remember when we got the dog, and I was quite excited. I remember asking the dog’s name, and I was told it was “Beatie”. My heart sank. Beatie was the name of my friend, not a dog’s name. I knew something was afoot, but my 3 year old mind couldn’t quite grasp what it was. I never challenged the name. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think that was possible, I guess. If the dog’s name was Beatie, that was it, whether or not it was the name he should have had.
In those days, I think we used to let dogs out without leashes. I guess that is what happened, or perhaps Beatie was smarter than my family. I remember that many nights he got out and ran away, only to return the next morning, scratching on the back door. Generally, between 5 and 6 in the morning.
Then of course, there was the time that he didn’t come back at all, and was brought back later in the day by University City police who discovered him struggling grasping for air in the small air space under the ice that had formed to cover the pond at Lewis Park. No one thought he would live, but he did.
And there was a time that he was hit by a car trying to cross Delmar, bleeding profusely. Surely, this would be it for him, but he recovered.
After my sister was born, my parents gave Beatie away. I have no idea what happened to him. “He went to a place where he would be happier”, I was told. Euphemism, huh? I don’t know, and of course there is no one to ask.
But, I have to give to my parents. Beatie, my army buddy, returned from overseas, and promptly got on with his life, which didn’t involve me any more. They had solved the problem that they had set out to solve, I guess.
But, did I ever tell you about Spike? He was my new imaginary friend, who appeared shortly after Beatie vanished. Who knows? Perhaps he may still be around.