I don’t know quite what came over me. It must have been the wine. But my husband came home to find me giving dinner to the boys, twins aged 4 and big brother age 9 one evening and presented me with his cell phone. Taking up the whole screen was an image of a beagle puppy. Just his face, with those adorable floppy ears and what I thought were inquisitive eyes. “A guy I know can’t keep him.” He said, “His wife is suddenly allergic.”
That should have been a red flag.
But I was thinking how I have always loved beagles and this one would be a fabulous accessory in my English Country meets Ralph Lauren meets French- New Englander style I was going for. I pictured lazy snowy sunday afternoons in front of the fire, me in super soft cashmere reading a book, the children in khakis and sweaters playing a board game and husband in tweed with his pipe and this lovely beagle curled up at my feet.
“Hon?” my husband snapped his fingers “What do you think?” We’ll take him! What’s his name? “Buddy.” Hmmmm…I was thinking Bailey. I’ll change it! Let’s go get him.” I said.
Suffice to say my fantasy of pet as home decor accesory was both misguided and woefully naive.
Our inaugural weekend with Buddy initiated us into the world of Beagle ownership. They like to howl. A lot. And sniff. Don’t leave any food on the counter unless you intend it to become a Beagle snack. I placed a pound of butter on the island and turned around to the sink, turned back (a total of perhaps 10 seconds later) and Buddy had snatched the butter from the counter and was in the process of gulping the sticks down, cardboard and all. It reminded me of those hot dog eating contests where they essentially eat the thing in two bites. I managed to get 2 sticks away from him. I called the vet in a panic. Would he be sick everywhere? The vet advised me to give him rice for a couple days. Fabulous, now I was cooking for the dog. He also pulled my son’s Derek Jeter jersey off a chair and peed all over it. Apparently it was necessary to remind us of his Boston roots.
Somehow with all the food snatching, including sandwiches right out of the twins’ hands, howling and following me everywhere around the house, we fell in love with him. Of course this is every dog’s master plan. It’s the cute that keeps you from giving them away.
One early evening my husband walked Buddy in our neighborhood. Suddenly Buddy started straining against the leash and pulled my husband down the sidewalk starting to run. My husband related the story incredulously to me later: “He must have smelled something, I don’t know. But he was pulling me down the street and he realized I was slowing him down. THAT DOG sat down, took his front paws and pushed his collar RIGHT OFF.” My husband then had to sprint after Buddy, who didn’t stop running until he had found his prey, and proudly sat next to the rabbit hole, howling.
Last year we got a massive amount of snow. I was tired of being pent up in the house and took him out for a walk. We got to the access road that boarders the lake we live on and proceeded to come back home. The snow hadn’t been plowed but I wasn’t deterred. With Buddy leading we got to the switchback path that steeply goes up the hill. Oops, I realized (remember-I’m a city girl..) the path wasn’t visible and there was at least 3 feet of snow in drifts. How was I going to get up that hill? THAT DOG looked at me and proceeded to jump through the snow and pulled me all the way up. He didn’t stop, galloping is the only word-until we got to the street. I felt like an iditarod racer with only one dog to mush. It was wonderful.
Dog ownership is not like I imagined. He has eaten a dining room chair, the GPS holder in the car and on one inopportune occasion; an entire loaf of bread. I have allowed him on our furniture (it’s leather, and he looks like a Ralph Lauren ad-I can’t resist!), he lays on our laps like a small dog would- although he is not small, is addicted to to raw hide chips, sleeps with us and when the children are sick, devotes himself to them all night long.
We think he is our pet, but I suspect it may be the other way around.