I am filling in for Brad this week; he didn’t ask me to, but since he is combatting Covid, I intervened.
I promised him I would stick to the column’s guiding principle—the great outdoors. So naturally I’ve decided to write about our new beagle puppy. I think that’s close enough.
This column has been a joy for Brad to write and a joy for me to read. However, I must admit that my favorite articles usually center on one or more of our dogs. Up until the second day of this new year, we only had two: Moose, our GSP, and Murphy, our golden retriever. And honestly, two was enough.
We do have a large place for dogs to roam, but our bed tends to get a bit cramped. Obviously, we are not dog house people — or even dog bed people, for that matter. Moose and Murphy were older now and on a great schedule. We could let them wander around the house while we were at work and not have to worry about coming home to a table leg chewed in half or a rug displaced of its tassels. They got along well with each other and our two cats (as much as that is possible).
So you see what’s coming.
I’ve always been in love with beagles. I have never owned one, but I’ve always had plans to do so. When Brad and I were in grad school, one of our professors had a beagle that made every step she did. Bernard was his name. Then years later we followed the shenanigans of Henry, beloved beagle of the late Southern author Julia Reed.
There is just something about a beagle’s soulful eyes and floppy ears, not to mention those charming spots. My husband knows that I can be quite “determined” when I have made up my mind about something (okay, maybe relentless), and he very graciously asked if he should start looking for a beagle puppy last fall. “No,” I explained. “She will find us.” And she did.
She was one of about 9 or 10 puppies huddled together in a cardboard box. She was wormy and had a broken tail, but it was the spot on the top of her head that caught my attention. I often tell her that little spot saved her. I don’t know what happened to her siblings, and I don’t want to think about it. Birdie was ours; a month later, the worms are gone, but the tail is crooked forever.
A friend asked me why I named a rabbit dog Birdie. I didn’t know it at the time, but she can fly through the air from chair to sofa like a deranged bird, and she sleeps on her back like Superman. She cowered by our feet the first few days she was with us, and now she sails through the pastures with her big brothers.
Brad commented this week that Birdie is like a newborn and a toddler all rolled into one, and I agree. The excitement of getting a precious little fur ball with that indescribable puppy breath overshadows a few parts of the process I had forgotten.
I had forgotten that impatient feeling you have, all bleary-eyed and cold, when you are up in the middle of the night with a puppy searching for the perfect spot to take care of business. And because of all the medicine Birdie has been taking, she has to get up quite often, three times to be exact. We take turns setting our alarms, and our big dogs raise their heads, look at us like we are crazy, and then roll over and go back to sleep.
I had forgotten about the sharp puppy teeth. Now I remember why our son Dan always had tiny holes in all of his clothes when Moose was a puppy. I had forgotten how you can’t take your eyes off a puppy for a second because if you do, be prepared to lose a valuable article of clothing or a sofa or even an appliance. Seriously, for some reason Birdie thinks the dishwasher deposits her food so she scratches it all day long, hoping a morsel or two might fly out.
I had forgotten about how a puppy’s determination is bigger than her tiny little legs. She has no doubt that she can do anything Moose and Murphy can do. I try not to laugh when she falls into a hole they have just dug or disappears in the tall grass that they jumped over in an afternoon romp. In her mind, she thinks she can, and that’s all that matters.
I have forgotten a lot about this puppy stage. But I haven’t forgotten the feeling when that little puppy licks your face when you pick her up or snuggles on your lap for a nap (finally). That feeling that says, “I’m home. Thanks for loving me.” That feeling is unforgettable.
Hope to see you soon in our great outdoors! Bring a four-legged friend, or two or three!