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Summer 2009

Life with Bob the Beagle

 

By Pat Hamit

The rest of the story
While I suspect that Bobby might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer he is far from stupid. He has a unique ability to learn. It has to be in his time, at his speed and it helps if the activity is entertaining. It can be disconcerting to learn that you have something in common with your dog.

Further across the fence conversations with my neighbor have been revealing. I learned that Cooper isn’t the perfect dog that I thought he was. Cooper has chewed the siding off of the outside house and remodeled the wallpaper on the inside. Bless his little pea-picking heart.

Upon receiving this newsflash, I’m thinking to myself that Bob is starting to look a whole lot better, a whole lot better! I can fix a cratered back yard easier and cheaper than replacing siding or wallpaper although making the flowerbed Bob-proof involved some creativity and expense.
Since that time, my wife has taught Bob to sit and stay. He won’t sit and stay indefinitely, but I am surprised by the amount of time he will devote to this command. His attention span seems to last somewhat longer if it is my wife who issues the command because he likes to please her, or maybe he is afraid of displeasing her. I have that same fear. Something else he and I have in common.

On the other hand, both of us have tried to teach Bob to shake hands. Nope, he won’t do it. He flat refuses to shake. I think he is more the “high five” type or maybe a fist tap is more his style. Keep in mind that he has to maintain his image. Maybe shaking hands just isn’t cool for a rock star of his stature.

Thankfully, Bob’s social graces are improving little by little. When the Minister from our church stopped by the house the other night. Bob was sure that the good Reverend was there to play with him. After repeatedly offering his most prized toy and being politely patted on the head, which was a sign for him to go away, Bob retreated far enough away to allow him to assess the situation and try again later. Bobby is nothing if not persistent. At least he didn’t embarrass us too much. I was able to keep my usual epitaphs and oaths in check and not mortify myself or my wife but it was a close call. Unlike Bob, I can only do cool for so long and then the grouchy curmudgeon in me has to come out.
Yes, Bobby is teachable but it has to be on his terms and the subject matter has to fit his definition of cool. Dealing with his rock star persona and ego could be getting out of hand.

Charles Schultz & Snoopy
In real life, Charles Schultz, the creator Peanuts, had to have owned a Beagle.

First of all, the ultimate name for a Beagle has to be Snoopy. When used as verb, snoopy describes Bob existence. The hound dog in him demands that he investigate everything that comes into his house. Carrying groceries into the house becomes an olfactory delight for this curious hound. His nose sounds like a muffled Hoover as he scrutinizes every sack being carried in. Bob, as you know, does not suffer from self-esteem issues. He is certain that whatever is in those sacks is for him. Curious doesn’t begin to describe him. His inquisitive nature makes the cat look like a slacker.

Not long ago, my wife placed a vase of flowers on the fireplace mantle. Shortly thereafter we heard Bob in the living room growling, barking and making a fuss in general. Looking to see what had him so upset, we discovered that he had found the newly placed flower vase. He was sure he had discovered some kind of intruder.

This act has become the rule rather than the exception. Whenever he discovers something new in the house, he feels compelled to inform us of his find. It usually involves the same routine: lots of growling, muffled barking and bristled up hair. When you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, bluffing can be a very valid tactic. I use it myself from time to time. We sleep well at night knowing that Bob is in charge of home security. He is keeping us safe from flower vases and other suspicious home décor knick-knacks.

Secondly: the sounds that Snoopy makes in the television cartoons are exactly the same sounds that Bob makes. We are constantly amazed at the sounds that emanates from this dog. When he rolls on his back and wiggles, stretches, or is preparing for his nap the sounds he makes are remarkably similar to Snoopy. The most entertaining sounds coming from this hound is when he is asleep. You have to laugh out loud about the amount of growling and muffled barking he does while sleeping. He is probably dreaming about evil knick-knacks and their dastardly deeds?

With the introduction of Bob as a member of our pack, my wife is resigned herself to a lifetime of Snoopy greeting cards for whatever the occasion, but I sign Bob’s name to them. This technique works well for him if he is in trouble. The card thing usually works for me too.

Aesop’s Fable
We all remember the fable of the dog holding the bone in his mouth and then seeing his reflection in the pond. This is a similar story with a twist.

Bob loves to chew on his rawhide bones the same way I love strawberry liquorices twist. When he receives a new bone, he is obsessed with chewing the rawhide knot off of one end or the other. The newly freed end knot then becomes his most prized possession and he guards it jealously while he continues to chew it into rawhide slime. He will protect this disgustingly slimy rawhide piece of gooey yuck with his life. Trying to get it away from him is a lost cause. He growls and runs, which begins a new version of “catch me if you can,” and he intends to win. There is no way this greedy little mutt is going to give up this, his most cherished toy.

A couple of weeks ago the bone end fell apart while playing “catch me if you can” and now there are two pieces of rawhide yuk where there use to be one and hence the dilemma. Bob is standing between the two separate pieces looking at both in turn. His head looks like he is watching a tennis match as it bobbles back and forth. Obviously he wants both pieces of bone but which one?

I crank up the intensity by pretending that I’m going to make a grab for his precious pieces of yuk. Bob solved the problem in nanoseconds. With little hesitation, he scoops both pieces into his mouth. With his mouth completely full of rawhide bone ends; he is prancing around the room doing his happy dance. He is acting like he just scored the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl. With apologies to Aesop, I’m laughing so hard that I’m paralyzed. It appears that you can have your bone and chew it too, all of them. After witnessing his ability to solve an immediate problem with me cranking up the pressure, it appears that Bob may be smarter than we first thought. I wonder just how many pieces of bone he can fit in his mouth.

Burying the bone
While we’re on the subject of rawhide chew bones, let me tell you about the Bobmiester’s stash. After he is finished chewing on a small slimy piece of rawhide, he is compelled to bury his treasured possession. Since he is an indoor dog, he buries this precious commodity wherever he can. Indoors or outdoors, we have discovered that there are dog rules for burying the bone, but we only know a few of the rules as they’re subject to change without notice. The primary rule is absolute secrecy. No one can know where the bone is buried. If Bobby thinks anyone is watching, the whole deal is off. He will either out wait us or go to his secondary hiding spot.

Keep in mind that stealth is key word. He uses stealth to select a hiding spot and we use stealth to watch him perform the hiding ceremony. He will hollow out an imaginary hole in the corner of a room, behind a table, on a bed or another piece of furniture. Keep in mind, he is not allowed on the beds or furniture but those rules don’t apply when he is dealing with top-secret material.

Once his imaginary hole has been scooped out with his nose, now comes the actual concealment of the bone, which is placed into its hiding spot with great care. With his nose, he scoops the imaginary dirt back into the hole. All of this is a very labor-intensive task that can go on for sometime. After he’s satisfied that bone is properly covered, he tamps the imaginary dirt with his nose and stands back to inspect his labor of love. If something is not to his liking, he’ll continue working until everything is perfect.

Witnessing this secret ceremony take place is one of the funniest things you’ll ever see a dog do.

We have found bones and bone pieces all over the house. His innovativeness and imagination is amazing. His dog bed, like the ones found at any pet store or discount store, yielded seven, count ‘em, seven pieces of chew-bone. Only a couple of pieces could be readily seen, the rest were stuck into the folds or the bed. The day bed in a spare room turned up several dried up, crusty bone-ends. We had no idea they were there.

Remember, Bobby is not allowed on any of the furniture and we seldom catch him violating this rule, which makes us wonder how in the world bone pieces end up under the cushions on the couch and under pillows on selected beds. Yeah, we really wonder how that happens, hmmmmm? One thing is certain, Bob is not telling but I don’t think you have to be a CSI to figure it out.

Leader of the Pack
So far all the books on Beagles refer to that specific breed as a pack animal. The book says,
“It is important you are this dog’s pack leader.” What the book did not say was that Bob would be the one to decide who the leader of the pack would be. Well, I can tell you right now, it isn’t me. I have not been anointed the “Leader of the Pack.”

Bob has chosen that woman who lives in our house, my wife, to be the “Leader of the Pack.” She is the one who nursed him back to health, feeds him, and gives him his regularly scheduled bath. When she is angry with him we both head for the hills. I feel bad just listening to Bobby getting chewed out. Actually, I’m more sorry than he is for whatever transgression his has committed. The difference between him and me is that I’ve learned from his mistakes. You won’t catch me digging in the houseplant pots, not ever.

When the “Leader of the Pack” comes home, she is greeted by a disgusting display of barking, howling and wagging his tail so hard that he almost falls over. He howls so loud (blows his Beagle bugle) that the doorbell chimes vibrate and chime. He puts his head up, forms an O with his mouth and lets that hound dog howl rip. He lets it rip so hard that it makes him walk backwards. You have to witness this whole process first hand in order to appreciate it.

I am second in command in the hierarchy of Bob’s pack. However, that does not make me in charge of anything. When I come home Bob may or may not acknowledge my arrival, it depends upon his mood. He is obviously a brown nosing little sucker.

The title for the second in command is Cruise Director. As Cruise Director, I am in charge of fun stuff like: playing ball, going for walks, throwing the Frisbee, wrestling and providing a lap for him to take his pre-bed time nap on. I’m the one who gave myself the title for this pack position because I didn’t like being called “Bob’s boy toy” as the “Leader of the Pack” sometimes refers to me.

Bilingual Bob
Remind me to tell you next time about Roberto’s ability to speak Spanish. Until then, vaya con Dios, amigo.


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