CONWAY — If Beauregard the golden retriever was a cat, he’d only have six lives left.
Early Thursday evening, Beauregard was caught off guard in the bed of a pickup and suddenly found himself going right when his owner, Conway Councilman Tom Anderson, turned left.
The next thing Beauregard knew, he was on the ground at the intersection of U.S. 501 business and French Collins Road, shaking himself off from his tumble.
As luck would have it, good Samaritan Marlaina Abbot was driving the pickup right behind Anderson’s and saw Beauregard’s adventure unfold.
Abbot stopped, got Beauregard in the back of her truck and took off in the direction she saw Anderson leave the scene, but she didn’t see that he turned right and knew she’d lost him when she hit the 501 bypass.
“The dog’s been in the truck for 90,000 miles,” Anderson said after Beauregard was safe back at home Friday morning.
Anderson was used to Beauregard planting his front paws on one side or the other of the truck’s bed and barking at whatever caught his fancy. The barking never lasted very long, Anderson said, so when the noise stopped Thursday evening, Anderson didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary.
When he discovered Beauregard was gone, he and his wife retraced his route hoping they would spot him. When they didn’t,. Anderson had a feeling that someone had picked up his pet and he was fine.
Indeed. Abbot, the owner of Coastal Motor Co. in Murrells Inlet, took Beauregard to her home in Conway, introduced him to her dogs, took his picture and posted his tale on Facebook. Beauregard spent the night with Abbot’s black Lab on the floor in the living room, Anderson said.
“He’s glad to be home,” Anderson said, “but he enjoyed his sleepover.”
While Beauregard was partying, Anderson was worrying.
He called friend Steve Terry, who has a frame and print shop in downtown Conway, and the two worked until 1 a.m. creating and printing posters for Anderson to put around town later that morning. Terry posted one on his Facebook page, Anderson said.
Anderson was up at daybreak with his posters, and he said his phone started ringing at 6:30 a.m. There were some false sightings, but mainly a lot of people wishing him well.
As luck and modern life would have it, the Facebook connection is what reunited Anderson and Beauregard.
It wasn’t a direct connection, Anderson said, but somebody who’d seen one of the posts knew somebody that knew somebody who’d seen the other.
“I’ve never Facebooked,” Anderson said. “But I’ll tell you what, Facebook has an awesome power.”
Now, about those six remaining lives.
This wasn’t Beauregard’s first slip from the back of Anderson’s pickup. The first was near the Horry County Solid Waste facility on S.C. 90 north of Conway.
The other life may have been used up when Beauregard was born. Anderson said he’s the only of his litter to have survived puppyhood.
Somewhere between 80 and 100 Conway area residents and business people are going to find themselves in the clink on Aug. 16 and will, like jailbirds throughout history, have to rely on friends to get them out.
They’ll be looking for bail money – Is anyone surprised? – but those who contribute will know that their money will be doing double duty. Not only will it help spring their friends, but it will then go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association to help people with one of 40 neuromuscular diseases.
The association has 68 families in the Conway area that it assists, said Christine Bender, executive director of the nonprofit’s Coastal Carolinas Chapter in Wilmington, N.C..
The chapter covers 26 counties in North Carolina and South Carolina, including Horry, Marion, Dillon and Marlboro, and holds annual jailings in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. Conway’s is a little less frequent, Bender said, but is important because of the number of people there that the agency serves.
There is no charge to the patients, Bender said, who may be able to borrow specialized equipment from the agency and see, for just a co-pay charge, a specialist at the Medical University of South Carolina, Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill.
Jailees will be formally charged by a judge at Fatz Cafe on U.S. 501 bypass with having a good heart and be allowed to set their own bail, with the ultimate being $2,000, Bender said.
Each will be picked up for their one-hour stint by the MDA and returned to their homes/businesses when their time is up.
Some, such as Barbara Streeter of Conway Glass, have already started raising their bond money.
Streeter said she is shooting for the top, hoping to get $2,000 in pledges from friends and associates.
“Ed (her husband and business co-owner) is my partner and he said he’d help me,” Streeter said.
Streeter said she was jailed for the same reason about 10 years ago, and she’s not expecting it to be hard time.
“Yeah,” she said, “we get lunch.”
Bender said the last mass jailing in Conway netted $43,000, less than what is collected in Myrtle Beach but about the same as North Myrtle Beach.
She said she’s a good jail warden.
“We are very kind to every sponsor and businessperson,” she said.
Anyone who wants to help free one of the jailbirds or to contribute to MDA can do so by calling the Coastal Caorlinas Chapter at 910-763-3114.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.