FORT WORTH — It isnt every day you see a memorial service for a dog without an owner.But on Wednesday, a group of residents, police officers and even the veterinarian who cared for him, gathered in an outdoor chapel to say farewell to Beau Blue. He died June 26 of heart and kidney failure.No one knows when Blue was born, but he was a fixture in this near south-side neighborhood off of South Main Street that consists of vacant lots, renovated buildings and several small businesses.The pointer-mix considered the entire neighborhood his home. He would make regular appearances at weekly services at an outdoor chapel for the areas homeless population and befriend just about everyone he came across.This whole little area was his kingdom, said Marcus Newton, who moved to Bryan Avenue in the neighborhood about a year ago. He ruled the place.Newton quickly struck up a friendship with Blue, who would stay in his garage on cold nights and come by almost every day. But Blue, who got that part of his name for his bond with the police officers who patrolled the area, refused to be pinned down to any one residence.Stress reliefFort Worth police officer G.G. Hempstead helped care for the dog and quickly learned that knowing Blue meant that she knew everybody in the neighborhood.This dog brought joy to everybody, Hempstead said. He guarded everybody. He would walk you down the street. When I first met him, I thought he needed me; then later I realized I needed him.After difficult calls, Hempstead would visit Blue to relieve the stressWhen it was really the hardest, I would come see Blue, Hempstead said. He would give me a lick on the face, a snuggle. He would calm me down. He would make me feel better. He just had that effect on people.Blue also reached out to the neighborhoods homeless population, providing protection for some as they slept and comforting others.When theyre in need if they need some love, if they need company he hangs out with them, Hempstead said.No one would say how Blue successfully eluded animal control officers for all these years, but Newton said there would have been an outcry from the entire neighborhood if he had suddenly been picked up.Always on pointFor business owners like Jim Hardin, he was better than a security system.He didnt walk with you. He was in front of you, always on point. He was a street dog on the lookout for trouble, said Hardin, who owns Janes Secret Place Antiques and Home Decor Store with his wife, Jane.When he would show up late at night to work at the store or in the warehouse, Hardin said Blue always seemed to magically appear.He would also greet customers at their car and escort them through the store, paying special attention to some disabled customers and sometimes hanging out to listen to Christian music on the radio.Crowley veterinarian Dehna Shaffer cared for Blue over the last 11 days of his life. She said there was something unique about the dog.A lot of times we go Hes just a dog, Shaffer said. But this Just a dog carried the heart of a community on his brave little shoulders. He was really special to all of yall.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698 Twitter: @fwhanna