Did you hear the one about a dog walking into a bar?
Well, I actually saw it. Yes, one of my dogs walked into a bar. Hopefully you want to know how that came about and I’d love to tell you.
Back in the 1990s, before Mary and I got back together following the 40-year gap in our relationship between being high school sweethearts and later being reunited, I was in my second bachelorhood.
I lived in the historic old McDonoughville section of Gretna, across the river from New Orleans, and there was an old fashioned neighborhood bar around the corner from my house. My neighbor, fellow newspaper reporter and best friend Vince and I would occasionally walk around to the bar on a Saturday afternoon to have a cool one or two.
It was a dog-friendly bar and one day we decided to take Bouse (I’ll explain that name later) with us. The nice bartender immediately took to Bouse and gave him a bowl of milk while Vince and I nursed a beer.
Well, a week or so later, I had hooked up Bouse to a long leash on the front porch and was busy doing something in the back of the house when I heard a knock at the door. One of the neighborhood youngsters said, “Mr., your dog got out of his collar and he’s gone around the corner.”
I trotted to the intersection just in time to see Bouse almost at the front door of the bar. By the time I got to him, he’d gone inside but I had to tell the bartender that we didn’t have time for a drink So I had to herd Bouse, without a leash or collar, back to the house. He wasn’t pleased because, dog gone it, he really wanted another bowl of good, cold milk.
Now, about his name. I’d gotten him from the Times-Picayune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Walt Handelsman. (How many folks have had a dog that belonged to a Pulitzer winner, I wonder.) Walt’s family was growing and he said he had to get rid of either a dog or a kid, so he chose a dog. The dog’s name was Lucky at the time, because he had survived being a street dog in Uptown New Orleans, and he and I hit it off right away
I’d go home at lunchtime every day to feed him and let him out and when I’d see him I got into the habit of saying, “Hi, Boo.” Boo, as you may know, is a popular informal nickname in South Louisiana. Anyway, Boo sort of morphed into Bouse (pronounced like loose) and that became his name.
He was a shaggy haired lovable guy who really enjoyed his meals. When I wasn’t home, he’d jump up on my sofa, leaving tons of yellow and white hairs. When I’d see that, I’d fuss at him and tell him No. He must have wondered how in the world I knew he had been on the couch. But, he was a good dog and apparently quit that particular misdeed because after a while I saw no more hairs on the sofa.
He loved to sit on the front porch and he hated cats. One day a cat approached on the street and Bouse took off down the porch steps after him. Poor dog forgot he was attached to his leash and when the leash ran out, Bouse was flipped over on his back, like a roped calf at a rodeo. He wasn’t hurt but his dignity suffered in front of the hated feline, I’m sure.
I must admit, he didn’t hate every single cat on the planet. When Mary and I got back together in 1999, she had a cat, Pearl. When she brought Pearl into the house, Bouse stiffened and must have thought, “What is this woman doing with that creature?” However, Mary warned him to be good and Bouse and Pearl tolerated each other from then on, even taking naps while lying just a few feet apart. I don’t think Bouse ever asked Pearl to go to the bar with him, however.
As he aged, Bouse went deaf, but I could communicate with him through hand signals. To ask him if he wanted to go out into the back yard, I’d swing my arms toward the back door and he would run to it, ready to go outside.
I thought he was totally deaf, but he wasn’t. When Warren Morris hit his game winning home run for LSU in the 1996 College World Series, I hollered so loud that I woke up Bouse from a nap. Or maybe he felt vibrations in the wooden floor boards!
Bouse later developed arthritis and we gave him prescription meds from a vet. I think those powerful meds affected his liver because his appetite just quit. For this chubby fellow to want to quit eating was awfully ominous. I knew the end had come when he turned down a bite from a roast beef poor boy.
So, like so many others, Bouse was euthanized and went to doggie heaven, I’m sure. Her certainly deserved it Except for hating cats and wanting to visit a bar now and then, he was just about perfect.
Next week, I want to tell you about Belle. She was something.