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Spring 2009

Life with Bob the Beagle

by Pat Hamit

Few things in this world are more heartwarming than a basketful of Beagle puppies. Their noses are still stubby but the floppy ears, sparkling big brown eyes, large round paws combined with the black, tan and white spots and freckles make these little darlings irresistible. If a cuddly little Beagle puppy snuggling his nose into the crook of your arm doesn’t tug at your heartstrings you may want to consider an emergency visit to your heart doctor.

Viewing a basket full of Beagle pups is one thing; living with one can be something else. Bob’s stature as a Rock Star continues to grow as his personality and, to a lesser extent, his social skill grow too. Every day is a new adventure with the Bobmeister. He seldom fails to add a new dimension of awe or entertainment.

Calling the baby ugly
As always, having a Beagle, or most any member of the hound dog family for that matter, is a challenge. That hound dog nose easily leads them astray. If he is not in the back yard and not on a leash or a tether chances are that Bob is gone, off to the races. He is off following his nose and the chase is on.

My wife has learned, and to a lesser extent so have I, while chasing Bob around the neighborhood, that no matter how profound or profane the epitaph being muttered, he’s probably not coming back on his own. The oaths that I utter, mostly under my breath, usually have to do with Bob and his family tree. That’s right, I’m discussing his roots.

We have learned that once Bob’s nose kicks in his ears shut down and he is totally focused on whatever scent has gained his attention at that time. Only the nose knows how far this game is going to go and what other scents might divert his attention before the leaders of his pack, (that would be us,) regain control of this rogue high speed wanderer. In more than one way, these little neighborhood escapades add new meaning to the term “doggone.” I can think of a few other colorful words as well.

One day last summer, after Bob and I concluded another invigorating game of “catch me if you can,” in 100 degree heat, my neighbor took me aside and told me a much-guarded dog owner secret. He said to me, “I hope you know Beagles are stupid.” Given my current frame of mind, I was in no mood to disagree. I was now becoming somewhat despondent with the breed of dog we had chosen. How many times in the course of lifetime have you uttered the phrase, “If I only knew then what I know now?”

The neighbors on the other side of us had just acquired a new yellow Labrador retriever pup. Talk about cute! This dog is an adorable bundle of energy. We have heard from the get go about how smart Cooper is. Every morning, he retrieves the newspaper from driveway and so on and so forth. You all know how these conversations go. The same thing happens when parents tell friends about their kids or when Grandparents whip out the photos of the Grandkids. It’s the same thing.

After one those across the fence neighborly chats, to which I can contribute nothing that illustrates Bob’s IQ and aptitude, depression seems to be replacing despondency. I can’t help but wonder how did we get such a dumb dog? I’m wishing we had a Labrador Retriver so I could be the one exhorting the dog’s talents to family and friends. As it is, I got nada.

My wife, the same woman who is not necessarily a dog lover, became a little annoyed when I relayed to her the secret about Beagles not being very bright. “You don’t tell somebody that their dog is stupid. That is like telling them their baby is ugly,” she said with all the righteous indignation she could muster. I have to tell you that when she takes on that puffed up self-righteous attitude it is not an attractive look for her.

Since it was summer, Bob and I spent lots of time together in the back yard. I soon learned that he has no trouble picking up on things that are fun. If he thinks that a certain activity is a game like “catch me if you can,” sign him up. He is ready to go. Let’s play!

The Bobster had no trouble learning to chase and retrieve the Frisbee or ball. Giving the retrieved item back and avoiding yet another version of “catch me if you can” still has some kinks to work out. However, since he will do anything for a treat, giving up the ball or Frisbee is impulsive and spontaneous if a reward is being offered. He is starting to get it and so am I. If an activity is fun and maybe a treat can be had as well, he’s all in. The fact that he is learning something is the bonus but we try not to let him know that he is learning a new trick or command. I’m sure all bet would be off if thought he was actually learning something. When I think back on all the various ways my wife and I have adapted to this manipulative little beast, I have to wonder who’s training who?


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