2012-08-03 / Front Page

Dog lover needs help finding ‘heroes’ after loss

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Deborah Boyajian went through some old photos after the death of her dog Beau, and found this one of two strangers who saved Beau after he fell from a ledge at Fort Williams Park last year. Boyajian said she wants the chance to say thank you. If anyone recognizes them or knows who they are, she asks they contact her by phone at 831-6998, or email at boyajiand@mac.com. (Courtesy Photo) Deborah Boyajian went through some old photos after the death of her dog Beau, and found this one of two strangers who saved Beau after he fell from a ledge at Fort Williams Park last year. Boyajian said she wants the chance to say thank you. If anyone recognizes them or knows who they are, she asks they contact her by phone at 831-6998, or email at boyajiand@mac.com. (Courtesy Photo) CAPE ELIZABETH - Deborah Boyajian went through photos of her dog Beau after her 12 -year-old golden retriever died on Friday, June 22. As a way for her to remember her dog, she gathered together all the emailed photos through the decade he was a member of her family.

One of those photos shows Beau at Fort Williams Park, smiling between two men Boyajian has never met. Now, after his death, she wants to track down the two strangers to say thank you.

Boyajian’s husband, Bill Nelligan, took Beau on trips every weekend across the Casco Bay Bridge from their home on West Street in Portland. The two would stop at Tim Horton’s on Market Street in South Portland, where Beau would get a few cookies from the employees at the drive-thru. Then, they would make their way either down Cottage Road to Fort Williams or down Route 77 to Higgins Beach.

One afternoon last August at Fort Williams, Nelligan and Beau were walking near Portland Head Light when Beau went to explore something through a break in the fence along the path into the water. He then slipped and fell a distance Nelligan estimated at 30 feet, past the rocks and into the ocean.

Beau avoided the rocks on the way down, suffering only a scratch on his nose. But Nelligan wasn’t able to get down to retrieve his dog from the water because of some lingering knee and hip problems.

Nelligan yelled for help when Beau fell, and called his wife to tell her what happened. Boyajian originally thought to fetch a piece of rope and a floating “Boogie Board” from her house, but realized she had no idea how she would retrieve Beau, or how she would get from Portland to Cape Elizabeth in time. She called 911, and the Cape Elizabeth Fire Department sent a truck to respond.

But before the truck could get there, Nelligan said two men who were also walking along the path heard him and realized what had happened. They went down the rock face, retrieved Beau from the water, and carried him back up to safety. Nelligan said Beau was shaken after his fall, and tried to take off to the car as soon as he came up to the path.

Nelligan was able to take a photo of the two men, but had to chase a scared Beau back to the car before he could get their names.

“We wanted to thank them, and we couldn’t find them,” Boyajian said.

Immediately after Beau’s fall, Boyajian said she got in touch with a few local newspapers to try to track down the men, but was unable to find them. Then after Beau’s death, she was reminded of the strangers’ act of kindness.

“I said, you know this is unfinished business really to say thank you to them.”

Boyajian said Beau had slowed down in his later years, but was always a highly active, intelligent and friendly dog that loved chasing tennis balls, squirrels and sticks. Boyajian and Nelligan adopted him in Arizona in October 2001, where they lived with their son Will Nelligan, now a 20-year-old college student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.

Three years after the family adopted Beau, he made the cross-country road trip with Bill and Will to Maine when the family moved to Portland, where they have lived since.

“The people in the apartment building across the street would call him ‘the mayor of West Street.’ He would see strangers and just run to them as though he had known them his whole life,” Boyajian said.

But on a walk around the neighborhood one day last month, Boyajian said Beau stopped abruptly and a glazed look came over his eyes. He stopped walking at her neighbor’s house, lay down, and refused to get back up. Boyajian had to carry him into their home.

Nelligan was out of town when Beau’s health took a turn for the worse. Boyajian thought Beau could have died before her husband returned, but she believes Beau wanted to see Nelligan again because “he loved my husband. They were like glue.”

A day after Nelligan did come home, the family brought Beau to the South Portland Veterinary Hospital, where Beau had been coming for years to get his health checked and receive a few treats. There, they made the decision to put him down.

But on Thursday, June 21, the day before they brought Beau in, he summoned the strength to stand up and walk outside to the yard with Nelligan one last time.

After two strangers at Fort Williams had given Nelligan and Boyajian the opportunity to spend almost an extra year with their dog, Beau hung on to spend just one extra day with his family.

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