Dear Goddamned Beagle,
Winter is upon us, but this is your first time spending the season out of the Tennessee trailer park you’d previously called home, and things are different here. I also understand that you consider my new knee to be the source of all this cold weather. I mean, when I took you to camp it was hovering around the mid-fifties, and when Auntie J picked you up a mere nine days later it was in the thirties – and since then it’s only gotten worse. It was fifteen degrees Farenheit the other day.
Not only did my knee make the weather cold, but it’s clear that I’ve forsaken you, leaving your daily outings to others while I sit here, hoarding the warmth and probably looking at pictures of Swiss Mountain Dogs on the internet.
I’ve tried to make your walks as comfortable as possible. First I bought you a coat, stylish in its Jackie O plaid with the faux sheepskin turned-up collar. When that didn’t keep your belly warm enough I bought you a fleece, and you’re confident enough to pull off a purple under-layer to a red plaid coat, so fashion wasn’t a hindrance. Still you didn’t want to go out, clinging to me, refusing to walk, looking back at me with a combination of faint hope and firing squad farewell as others walked you to the door.
Of all your symptoms of misery, the shaking is the most pathetic. I’d been told you were shivering on walks, hence the additional layers of clothing, but still you shook. The other day, when a Thing prepared to take you for an early morning run before work, you were shaking hard even in the warmth of the kitchen in your two layers of outerwear, the mere promise of an excursion enough to make you shudder spasmodically. I’m starting to think there may be something to this “respondent conditioning” thing people are always going on about. Coats equal going into the cold. Cold equals shivering. Coats, therefore, equal shivering.
You came in after your walk, shortened by your unwillingness to venture far, and though your body was warm your ears were icy. I admit this has been a huge oversight on my part, Beagz. While focusing on your torso, I’ve neglected to think about those hard-working ears of yours, sweeping and swirling up scents, hanging defenseless in the weather, changing from reliable, floppy smell-getters to frigid fan blades merely cutting through the arid, cold air, suppressing all those good trails to follow, and quite possible hurting when they hit unyielding objects. I knew I had to rectify this intolerable situation, but how?
First I thought of practicality. The fervor and intensity of your explorations mean that any ear warmth must be secure. Images of a beagly Isadora Duncan-style tragedy flashed before my eyes as I thought of a billowing scarf or headdress caught in the many obstacles you charge your way through, no obstacle at all, really, unless caught by an accessory. No mantilla, stole or infinity scarf would do. I could think of no cap that would address the plight of your ears without some way to tuck them up and under it securely. This seemed unlikely.
Shockingly, no one makes ear mittens.
Then I thought of desire. Of all your wants and needs, the fact that you’re as small as you are has meant two things: You may live, and you may live here. Your ability to get to just about anything is not your most endearing feature, and I’ve said many times that were you an inch taller, we’d all be screwed.
But oh, how you try. That little neck of yours reaches surprisingly far, as is evidenced by the recent Christmas day bacon theft of 2016. Defying physics and logic, you stretched juuuuust enough to grab the corner of the bag on which the tantalizing prize was draining, allowing you to steal about half a pound of bacon and eat it before anyone could make it across the room. You’re fast, Beagle, and you’re stretchy.
While I don’t want to encourage this, nor is blatant theft something we approve of in this family, I did have to admire the effort. It also allowed me to understand how deeply you pine for that extra inch of height. Suddenly I knew what to do. I could keep your ears warm, and I could help you realize a life-long goal of a longer neck. I could get you a giraffe snood.
When the snood first came you accepted it immediately, likely because it foretold some treats, but also because it was so cozy. Thick and knit and toasty, you wandered around the kitchen looking comfortable and, I thought, slightly elongated, neck-wise.
For a few days I added each layer before your walk, removing the snood before sending you out. Today I thought would be the day to try your full ensemble, but when the time came Thing 2 muttered something about needing to move out of the neighborhood. Though you seemed perfectly content walking around, your new perceived height adding even more confidence to your casual swagger, your face told a different story when lifted to go over the gate.
“Please,” your mortified gaze implied, “One does not lift a giraffe beagle. One stands back in admiration as the giraffe beagle steps over a gate. One especially does not kiss a giraffe beagle on the head.”
I understand Thing 2 removed the snood once you were outside. I also understand you did not seem to enjoy your walk today, pulling toward home almost from the moment you left.
He doesn’t understand. To navigate these New England winters one needs warmth. To reach one’s full potential, one must aspire to one’s dreams.
We’ll try again tomorrow, Beagz. In the mean time, I’ll leave something hanging over the kitchen counter just a bit.