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A dog who humanized the Institute

Beau Moriarty died last Saturday. Beau was well known around the Institute, especially in some of his favorite courses, including 6.041, 18.03, and 18.01. Beau also worked closely with members of the electrical engineering department in Building 35.

Beau was a golden retriever.

Beau's owner, Ed Moriarty '76, said that his sister brought the dog up from Washington, DC, seven years ago, just as Ed was starting out as a faculty liaison for Project Athena. Beau's owners had been looking for a golden retriever to play with the kids. According to Ed, Beau "wasn't that kind of dog."

Ed agreed to keep Beau, but this immediately became a problem when Ed found himself in between <>


apartments for a month. He had no place to leave Beau during the day, "So I just started bringing him to work with me."

Almost immediately, Beau became better known than Ed. "Everyone always said hi to Beau. No one ever said hi to me!" he remembered. "Crossing campus took a long time with Beau. Everyone always wanted to stop and see him." Beau also made Ed's life easier. "One of the complaints people had . . . was that nobody could yell at me. They'd come into a room, say hi to Beau, pet him, and then they had no choice but to be civil to me."

Beau would follow Ed around the Institute faithfully. Once Ed was working in Building 4, and a group of people left the room. Beau followed, unaware that Ed <>

was staying. When Ed realized Beau was missing, he went looking for him. He looked all over the main Institute buildings. Then a complete stranger walked up to him and asked, "Are you looking for Beau? He was in the basement of Building 10 a half hour ago heading toward Mass. Ave." Ed had no idea who the man was or how he knew Beau. He simply thanked the man and kept looking.

"That happened a few times. If Beau wasn't with me, people I didn't even know would walk up to me and ask where he was." Ed eventually found Beau in Building 35, eating pizza with some graduate students.

Ed and his colleagues are filled with stories about Beau, like the time Beau cleared a conference room with a sudden attack of gas, or the many times Beau sat in 6.041 lectures and paid more attention than the humans in the audience. Ed would be there to observe for his project and Beau, of course, would follow. In his early years "he would just watch that lecturer, back and forth, like a tennis match," Ed says. As Beau got older, he had heard it all before and just slept through the lectures like the <>

rest of us.

Ed said that Beau was an intellectual, a Cambridge dog unfit for playing or fetching. He told people that Beau had earned his Dog-torate. "I guess now he's a post-dog," he said with a little smile.

The many secretaries and administrators in the Institute with Milk-Bone stashes in their desks have also been saddened by the loss of Beau. He was Ed Moriarty's shadow, always with him, always there. He was also the official bat dog of the Laboratory for Computer Science's softball team.

"That's why I keep coming back here," said Moriarty, who graduated from the mechanical engineering department in 1976, returned for some graduate <>

work, and now works with the electrical engineering and math departments on courseware. "MIT always has a real feeling of family. Of course, because of Beau, people may have been more friendly to me than most."

You don't have to know Ed Moriarty for very long to see how special Beau was to him. "Friends, you have a certain part of the day. Family, you have a certain part of the day. Beau was always there," Ed told me as he fought back a tear. Looking down at his young son, he said that he "had been hoping that `Beau' would be the first word Pete would say."

Beau had been ill for some time. "I sat down last Saturday with Beau on my lap and fed him some turkey (his favorite). I knew that I was taking him to the vet at <>

noon, and that would be it."

"I asked the vet if I could give him the injection. The vet was a little surprised at this, but Beau and I could handle it. We had shared so much in our lives, I couldn't have had someone else do it."

"People can talk -- that's a real limitation. Dogs just know. They communicate what we can't say in words."

Why all the fuss over a dog, you ask? Because of one thing Ed Moriarty said to me: "When someone would be walking around here in a daze, suddenly I would walk by them with Beau, and they would snap out of it. They would become human again."

Anyone that can humanize MIT like that deserves to be remembered.

Beau Moriarty died peacefully on March 3, with his family by his side and his belly full of turkey. He is survived by Emily, Alix, Peter, Ed, and all of his MIT family and friends.


Bill Jackson, a freshman, continues to write for The Tech despite the advice of doctors, friends and newspaper lovers everywhere.