Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Barney the Beagle
His instincts were all beagle and I'm sure his Mama would have been proud. Once when he was still very young, I saw him pointing, tail and nose in a straight line, one leg raised, still as a statue. I am not sure what he had spotted. A robin, maybe. One time he brought home a half-grown chicken, held tenderly in his jaws while the thing screeched and squawked.
But mostly, he just wanted to roam free.
He loved treats. A bit of left-over chicken from the dinner table or a Milk Bone would set those dark eyes dancing and the tail to wagging. He sometimes bayed at the moon, and most summer evenings he held long conversations with the neighbor dogs, no doubt discussing the state of the human condition. He seemed not to have an enemy in the world, so trusting and friendly was he. As a watchdog, he was worse than useless. He slept in a bed in the front hall and we figured the only threat he would ever present to a burglar is if the man should stumble over him in the dark. He got along well with the resident cats. At the local kennel, where he sometimes stayed when we were traveling, he was kept in the kitchen with the family, instead of the boarding kennels outside. He was lovable, irritating, irreplaceable.
I like dogs OK but I am not a "dog-lover". But, of course, this dog worked his way into my heart. One time we returned from a trip to Europe and picked him up from the kennel. He was barely walking and his beautiful brown eyes were glazed with pain. We called the kennel owner and the vet and were assured that there was nothing to be done but to end his suffering. He was 12 years old.
Rest in peace, little pest.
A word of warning to new dog owners: Do not get a beagle unless you live on the moors or the open prairies. They are charming and loving and beautiful to look at, but they are not meant for suburban lots. They need SPACE and lots of it, to roam and run and chase things and to breathe free.