DEAR ABBY: I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when I read your column in the Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.) and saw the piece titled "In Memory of Beau." It must have been sent to you by one of your readers without the name of the author - me! Abby, I wrote that piece in 1948. The story behind it:
I held my beloved pet in my arms while the vet gave her a merciful needle. I made an awful fool of myself in the vet's office, but it was the last service I could provide a pet so dear to my heart. I had picked her up at a sad time in my life during a Reno snowstorm in 1935. For the next 13 years she was my constant companion, until she became so sick and feeble I could not bear to see her suffer for another day.After she was put to sleep, the dog's prayer almost wrote itself. And in the show business tradition, God gave me the strength to do my Sunday evening TV show on NBC.
By the way, my dog's name was Skippy, but somewhere along the way, someone titled my piece "In Memory of Beau." I purposely did not use Skippy's name because I wanted this to be a dog's prayer - anybody's dog. And whether I receive credit or not doesn't matter; it gives me more satisfaction than I can express to imagine how many readers of your column may be helped by my words.
The version you published is quite good - I have no complaints - but I am enclosing the original piece, just for you, Abby, exactly as I wrote it. - BETH HARRIS, PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.
DEAR BETH: I was delighted to receive your letter, and very much appreciated receiving the original version of your piece. But it's not just for me. It deserves to be published for everyone, exactly as you wrote it. And here it is:
A Dog's Prayer
By Beth Norman Harris
Treat me kindly my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, or though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside...for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements...and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth...though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the sofest pillow inthe warmest home in all the land...for you are my god...and I am your devoted worshiper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry. I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not trun me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest...and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.
DEAR READERS: Apropos placing one's severly retarded child in a "home," read "Rough Road Home" by Melissa Mather. (The book, published in paperback, is available for $9.95, plus $1 for postage and handling, from Paul S. Ericksson, Middlebury, Vt. 05753.) It's a true and truly moving story of one woman's courage under adversity. I read it twice and loved it.
The facts about drugs, AIDS and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy are all in Abby's new expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send your name and address plus check or money order for $3.50 ($4 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)