Even non-dog lovers probably didn't miss the announcement this morning that a beagle, Uno, had won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. I've had a special place in my heart my whole life for beagles. When I was growing up, my first and only dog was a beagle. Toby. Since I was an only child, he became my 'brother', my partner in crime, my confident, my playmate. He took my tears and soaked them into his fur and kept all my secrets locked away. Every day he was my escape – allowing me to take him for a half-hour walk where I got to get out of the house and away from the craziness that was my homelife. He lived to a ripe old age of eighteen, but I was out of the house by then and my parents had him put to sleep and let me know afterwards… giving me no chance to say goodbye.
About six years ago Emily and I went looking for a dog at the local animal shelters. My sweet shih-tzu, Dusty, had passed away and we had a hole to fill in our family. As we saw dog after dog, one caught my eye. He was just sitting in his pen, leaning against the fence, and looked up with those sorrowful brown eyes as we walked by. With great effort (it appeared) he reached up with one paw and lay it on the fence. My heart went out. We kept going, looking further, and ended up in a nearby town where we found a cat that we couldn't resist. (That turned out to be my huge black cat – but that's another story).
Although we got the cat, my mind couldn't get rid of the sight of that dog, just sitting patiently waiting for someone to come. I told Emily I had to go back and check him out. We went back and I don't think he'd moved one inch since we'd left! Once more, he put his paw up on the fence. Brown eyes pleading for escape. We took him out to one of the rooms they have to get to know the animals better, and he slowly walked around and veeery slowly put his paws up on my leg. Everything he did was in slow motion – we were tempted to name him Slo-Mo!
He became a member of the family and we named him Benny Beagle … aka… the Bowling Ball (Hubs' nickname). He was not a "normal" sized beagle as Toby had been, but rather a large lump that soon grew to a whopping 50 lbs. We found that the "slo-mo" movements were a ruse and that he could be extremely quick and clever if either a bunny or a sandwich were involved. Hubs even had me ask the vet if he was a mixed-breed of some sort, seeing as he was so large. She then told us that beagles come in varying sizes and we just happened to end up with one of the big ones.
He's a personality. Here in the new house he has a kennel in the garage that has doors to a fenced in kennel outside. He has an igloo dog house in the inside kennel as well as a fan in the summer and a heated pad in the winter (although our garage isn't heated, our vehicle thermometers generally register 50 degrees even in the most frigid days of winter). He plays on sympathy – when you go out to see him he pulls out all the stops, making this horrid wheezing sound. I thought it was asthma, but the vet says it is a "reverse sneeze"… and although he can't seem to stop himself from doing it the minute he sees you when he's in the kennel, the second you hook a leash on him to take him out for a walk, he'll stop. He can got through his whole walk without doing it until you bring him back to his kennel. Faker.
His other trick is to play the slo-mo card. He'll walk very slowly on his leash, practically making you drag him at times to catch up (trust me, walking him is no exercise). However, when he gets a whif of a bunny you'd better have a good grip on his leash or you'll be trailing him to the next county. When he wants to, that dog can move! Luckily, the last time he got loose out in the open was at the old house and he'd run into the evergreen grove – which just happened to have an old fence around it. Whew!
Anyway, I just had to take a moment to acknowledge the mighty beagle. Way to go, Uno! (I'll be giving Benny an extra snack today in honor of the win!)