Life with Bob the Beagle
By Pat Hamit
That exclamation and a quick dog check usually indicates that Bob has given us the slip and is busy roaming the neighborhood. The two little girls across the street are Bob’s biggest fans and it is usually them who alert us with the cry of, “It’s Bob!”
However, hearing that harbinger now has an added dimension. Bob and I go for walks on an irregular basis. Recently, while waiting for the stoplight to change, the driver of a passing car rolled down the window and yelled, “It’s Bob!” With an even more semi-irregular routine, my wife takes the Bobster to the local walking trail. A walker coming from the other direction stopped and greeted Bob by name. She patted him, doted on him and faintly acknowledged my wife’s presence before proceeding with her walk.
Who were these people? We have no idea, but we are getting used to the idea that the dog has a fan club and we are merely the entourage. Of course, Bob just eats this stuff up. There is cool and then there is Beagle COOL, don’t you know?
Bob’s Boy Beagle Band
We have discovered that we live in a Beagle populated neighborhood. Spike lives up the street and is Bob’s best buddy. The two of them could pass for brothers. Several weeks ago, during one of our irregular strolls and neighborhood visits up the block. Spike and Bob managed to get loose. Down the street they go on a dead run. Both of them are blowing their Beagle bugles (hound dog howl) and taking turns jumping over each other’s back in a way that would remind you of a giant pair of shoes being laced. These two hounds were having a great time and the only thing my neighbor and I could do was to watch and laugh as theses two headed south at a high rate of speed towards my house.
Fortunately, my wife was in our front yard. The sound of the bugling Beagles caught her attention as she stood mesmerized at the site of not one, but two Beagles headed her direction at warp speed. At first she thought she was seeing double, then she realized it was Bob and his BFF, Spike. Her reaction was much the same as mine. I knew I had better get started chasing after the howling dynamic duo, but it was just too entertaining to watch those two bounding over one another and having fun. Just like their human counterparts, hound dog fun comes to an end all too soon, but everybody involved had cramps from laughing and that’s a good thing.
Ace is the youngest member of the Beagle Boy Band. Ace is the black masked Beagle pup that lives across the street, caddy corner from the Bobmiester. While Ace is the youngest of the three neighborhood boy Beagles he is probably the most experienced in rabbit hunting. It is hard to tell if it is Ace’s rabbit tracking experience or just the impertinence of youth that keeps him from being in awe of Bob.
Turn either one of these two hounds loose in the backyard and we are off to the races. One chasing after the other so fast that it becomes a tan, black and white blur. In order to keep from spinning out of control both dogs have to lean hard into the turns. While the chase is on, there is that hound dog howl in stereo. This goes on until they have exhausted themselves. With their tongues hanging out the corner of the mouths, they’ll collapse belly down in the cool grass and wait for a second wind to re-energize them and then the whole scenario starts again. The backyard hound dog races are usually comprised of 3 or maybe 4 heats. Each heat is shorter than the previous race. After the final event both dogs are totally and completely exhausted. Other than the sheer entertainment of the hound dog races, my wife and I like the fact that Bobby is going to sleep good tonight.
Bob has a kennel in the utility room and when it is his bedtime he will open the door and put himself to bed. Unless he is totally exhausted he will sit inside the kennel and wait for his bedtime snack that would closely resemble a dog’s version of a McBiscuit. His Beagle McBiscuit consists of doggy biscuits and bacon flavored doggie treats. If someone would add cheese and an egg to this bedtime snack I’d eat it myself and save a trip across town, well maybe not. Anyhow, toss his treats into the kennel and close the door. “Day is done, gone the sun.” It is lights out for Bob. His day is over.
That Hound Dog Sound
While researching Beagles I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the breed. If Trivial Pursuit ever has a category dealing with these hound dogs getting that wedge would be a slam-dunk.
Through research and now, from experience, I’ve learned that Beagles have three different vocalizations: a bark, a howl and a bay. The generic bark is somewhat louder than normal dogs because the Beagles has been bred for a loud booming voice. The sound emanating from these little dogs is nothing short of astonishing. The Bobmiester barks when the doorbell rings, if people are walking by his yard, to express his displeasure with being left outside, at blowing dust or whatever. And, yes, it is loud. All the neighbors know Bobby by his bark.
His vocalization will take the form of a howl when he is excited. When the Leader of the Pack, my wife, arrives home, stand by; howling is about to commence. Bob will lift his head up and form and “O” with his mouth and let go with his Beagle bugle. There are times when this vocalization is performed with such effort that it makes him walk backwards. The howl is similar to a generic bark but with something like a southern drawl presented at a very high decibels. One of my Dad’s favorite sayings was, “Loud enough to wake the dead.” This usually referred to the number I had the volume dial set on on the stereo. Since Bob has become a member of our family, I’ve gained an entirely new appreciation for Dad’s favorite saying.
The bay has to be experienced in order to appreciate it. I have only heard Bob baying on three different occasions. The bay is a very unique sound that lets you know that he is on the hunt. One evening this summer a cottontail rabbit made the mistake of encroaching upon the Bobster’s backyard. When Bob finally caught wind of this rascally rabbit the chase was on. What followed was a high-speed chase around and throughout the backyard with the Beagle holding his ground and baying his brains out. It was a relief when the errant bunny finally made good his escape through a small gap in the fence. My wife and I were laughing so hard that tears were running down our cheeks. Again, my research says that Beagles are hardwired to sound alerts. Both the baying and the howling are part of being able to track a hunting hound or a wayward Beagle. I have no idea how he can run at such a high speed and make that sound at the same time. Try to sprint 40 yards while yelling at the top of your lungs. I would probably have to be resuscitated at the emergency room.
This dog, Mr. Bob, can hear me gently touch his treat jar when he is in the other end of the house and comes running with eager anticipation. This is the same dog that when he is on the lam cannot hear his own name being yelled so loud that I worry about coughing up necessary body parts. My wife’s theory is that Bob has perfected the art of selective hearing. She will look at me and say, “I wonder where he learned that?” Of course that’s a rhetorical question. No comment required. Still, I give her that clueless look and shrug my shoulders because I’m not sure I heard what she said. I have perfected this routine so well that my wife has made appointments for me to have my hearing checked. Yeah right, like I’m going to do that and mess up a good thing, huh? When it comes to that selective hearing thing, the Bobmiester is a rank amateur but he is working on it.
Vaya Con Dios, Amigo
Don’t forget to remind me to tell you about Roberto’s Spainglish lessons. Until then, hasta la vista from Bobby.