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I’ve been around dogs since I was born, but we never had a beagle. My parents had a grouchy border collie who had to be medicated when I joined the family. She alternated between jumping between the road and me when I learned to walk and nipping at me when I got too close to her.
Our dear friends had St. Bernards. Those fiercely loyal animals sat ever patiently while I played veterinarian and listened to their enormous hearts with my pretend stethoscope. One did get impatient and eat my toy thermometer once. My parents forgave her instantly when I was squealing in the lawn swing outside. This huge dog thought I was in distress. She jumped up and stopped the swing in mid-air with her huge jaws. We found remnants of my toy thermometer under our favorite tree the next day.
As an adult, I’ve had Labradors, German shepherds, and Dalmatians. We loved them all.
But when it came time to get our youngest kids a pet, my husband happened upon some beagle puppies that needed rescuing on a nearby farm. He brought home an eight-week-old female as a surprise for all of us. Butter wouldn’t have melted in our sweet pup’s mouth as she cuddled up to us. Our 18 month-old daughter carried around the dog instead of a lovie. After we paid the vet to do his once-over, however, our hound must have realized we were committed. The game changed. Here’s what happened.
1. Our carpets changed colors.
Potty-training a beagle and a toddler at the same time is more fruitless than a new mother trying to Kegel through a sneeze. Our carpets used to be beige. Now, they’re a lovely shade of splotched tan with the exception of a spot under the dining room table. That spot is a reddish mix of colors where the dog passed a pack of crayons. Luckily they were the washable variety.
2. Annuals disappeared.
The first spring we had our beagle, I planted some flowers in the backyard. The next morning, I went out, and all my new plants were gone. I saw some evidence of digging, but I stupidly suspected a raccoon. I planted another batch and watched my puppy dig them up and eat them within a few minutes.
3. Beagle Accidents Happen
The next morning, after the flower debacle, my husband came downstairs to put his boots on. Our daughter and the puppy were playing nearby. The inside of one boot was rather wet. The other had an obstruction in the toe. Upon the automatic recoil of his foot, my husband examined the thick puddle. Wet leaves, stems, and a flower petal decorated the inside of one boot. The other one had three My Little Ponies stuffed in the toe. The little girl giggled, and the puppy burped up another flower petal.
4. Who Needs Chair Legs?
Our beagle was half-termite when she was a puppy. We had to buy tons of rawhide so that our dining room chairs would remain tall enough to reach the table. I fully expected to come home one day and find the chair bottoms flat on the floor.
Additionally, the pup had a taste for finer things; specifically high-falutin’ underwear. She would leave the Wal-Mart drawers and the rest of the laundry piled neatly while rooting out my favorite Victoria’s Secret unmentionables.
5. Loyalty With No Bounds
Once our beagle attained full-grown status, she declared herself the head guard dog of our ponderosa. She performed with valor against a copperhead and a coyote. She only cost us a couple hundred in vet bills from those encounters. We learned quite quickly that this hound won’t back down, especially if she perceives a threat to her family.
Now that our beagle is eight, and our younger kids are nine and six, they’ve taken over her care. They take her out, feed her, help keep her clean, and dress her up in tutus. They share the back seat with her on long road trips, and they both read their first books to her. To say I’ve used the dog’s name in vain along with some other choice words on occasion might be a little bit of an understatement, especially upon finding my favorite drawers rendered crotchless. However, I wouldn’t change the experiences of watching the kids and the dog chew shoes together, pee side-by-side under the dining room table, and climb in the dishwasher at the same time to lick cake batter off mixing bowls. Who needs Victoria’s Secret when you can have your kids grow up with an instant best friend? What better place to learn about loyalty than from a snugly crackhead beagle?