An Ode to Beagles
This issue of Mountain Home marks the magazine’s tenth anniversary. Our regional award-winning magazine is published by Beagle Media, LLC. The publishers’ beagle, Cosmo (painted on the cover in 2006, and reprinted on this issue), was the inspiration for the name and, though he is now happily wagging his tail in doggie heaven, he is still listed on the masthead as “The Beagle.” His name comes from Cosmo in the movie Moonstruck (“Look! It’s Cosmo’s moon!”), but might have come—and more appropriately—from the Seinfeld character Cosmo Kramer, who was very adept at mooching food from his friends. That is talent all beagles share.
I’ve said before, if you can hold a beagle puppy and not instantly fall in love, you have no heart. I’ve known beagles my entire life. Since adulthood, my lovely bride and I have owned a half-dozen dogs...all beagles and all females. Our Tippy produced puppies and it broke our hearts to give them away. We couldn’t face that again and all girls were spayed after that. But Meg, despite an inability to have pups, had the urge to show love. We first noticed that when potatoes and onions started showing up from the pantry with little tooth marks. An investigation led us to Meg’s bed, where she was cuddling a spud as though it were a puppy. When our cat had a litter and then abandoned them, Meg adopted the kittens and spent hours each day tending them.
For a few years, I worked “away” and Meg was allowed to sleep in “Mommy’s” bed. She manifested a look of sheer disgust when I came home weekends and displaced her from the bed. In fact, she got so mad that she peed on the bed.
A friend who owns hunting beagles once remarked, “When I say, my dogs are barking, I ain’t talking about my feet.” All our beagles were hunters, save Baby. But what love we had for the only beagle we ever had that was a special needs dogs. If they had had special ed. for dogs, she would have qualified. As the old saying goes, “That dog won’t hunt.” And so it was with Baby. Maybe she wasn’t so dumb after all. While I was out in the bluster and cold looking for bunnies, she was snuggled next to the heater inside.
Usually, I can tell by the pitch of the beagle’s bark whether the dog is running a rabbit or a pheasant. Our current flop-ear gets so excited when her sisters (our daughters) arrive that she goes spastic with joy. I can tell by the pitch of her squeals which of our daughters has entered the house.
A beagle can run a range of emotions and loads of looks in seconds. My beagle can be sound asleep on her pile of blanket and ignore the television audio. But she can hear someone touch a doorknob during a thunderstorm. The initial vibration might warrant a slow opening of her eyes. A footstep and she lifts her head. An opening door and she stands, straining to hear. Should the visitor be someone she knows, she enters full sprint mode to excitedly greet them. Like all beagles, she is stubborn. It’s impossible to call her off a rabbit track. And when it’s time to go outside for “potty,” she chooses who will take her. If it’s Mommy’s turn, I’d better not grab the leash.
But, you have to love ’em. Cosmo’s humans knew that. I got to thinking about what we might learn from beagles like Cosmo...and a long list of the beagles I have known and owned.
Here’s a top ten list:
1) Be passionate about what you do. When beagles are snuffling the ground searching for rabbits or game birds, their tails wag constantly. A mere whiff of the right scent speeds up the wags. Finally assured that the smell is a wascally wabbit, they get so excited that they bark about it.
2) If you are excited, show it. There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm...with “wagging your tail and barking your excitement.” Don’t be afraid to bark about success and to enjoy the journey.
3) Work hard. Beating the brush brings results. A good beagle will run through obstructions, under branches, over logs, and through water in order to accomplish the task at hand. Follow that example.
4) Things worth doing may present obstacles—even pain. Keep at it to succeed. I’ve known hunting beagles who worked so diligently through high grass, briars, and bushes to end the day with sore and bloody noses...but it was a successful hunt.
5) Sleep well. Fluff your blanket. Spin in circles to find just the right spot to plop down. You are at your best when rested.
6) Hunt for the important things in life and, when you get a whiff, shout for joy as loud as you can.
7) Stay alert while sleeping: someone may try to sneak some human food on a plate. That’s just a beagle’s way of saying, “Stay alert: you might miss some good things.”
8) Speak up. Let people know what you want. Our dogs have always told us when they needed to go out or when they were hungry or needed water. Do that in your life, as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. It works.
9) Let others love you. Take pleasure in cuddling. Puppies know that instinctively. Our daughters and granddaughters have learned a lot about love from beagle puppies.
10) Be yourself. Every one of our beagles has had distinctive personality and each quirk has only made us love them more. You need to know that those people in your life who matter will love you for you.