Not Bad, For An Old Dog

Dear Goddamned Beagle,

I’m not sure why people say I haven’t taught you anything. In the year-or-so since we first met, you’ve learned a lot.

You used to growl at children. Now you genuinely enjoy them, and see them for the endless food source they are.

You used to whine and howl and scratch at the windows for hours when I left the house, but now you recognize this for the snacking opportunity it is.

You used to pull like a freight train on leash. While admittedly you still do that, you’re a smaller train, as you understand proximity and checking in with me provides more immediate and frequent amuse bouches while we’re out walking.

You used to climb on top of all tables, desks and couch backs in the blink of an eye, grabbing whatever you felt might be interesting. OK, you still do that, but your initial floor-search for tidbits I stash when you’re not looking has slowed you down enough for me to get a jump on your scheming much of the time.

You used to protect stolen goodies, chew-things and prized objects fiercely, growling, snarling and snapping if I tried to take them. I’m not gonna lie, this part isn’t perfect. I have seen you swallow a four-inch Costco Muffin whole, including paper wrapper, in order to keep me from getting it, and you had to bite me once to fill me in on how serious you were about chocolate chips. You steal people’s tools, from hammers to pens to computer cords, and take off with them. You leapt on Auntie D when we were having dinner in the living room and stood over the plate on her lap, hunched and guarding like a starving, vegan hyena as you scarfed down her roast cauliflower and broccoli. But for the most part, you’ve come to understand that whatever you have is really just an opportunity for a good trade for food.

Sometimes you’ll sit on command, and you’re fully convinced that dropping into a down will bring you a nosh. This is problematic at times, like when someone is walking and you drop into a down directly in front of them because they’re carrying a plate. Still, it’s a down.

So while it may not be said you’re obedient, exactly, I think it’s fair to say you’re learning.

Recent weeks have introduced new cues like “mast cell” and “Patnaik scale” and “mitotic index,” which have required new skills like, “stay still don’t jump” and “be too stoned to undo the ex-pen” and, “lick anything but the stitches.” It turns out, though, that you’ve done a good job in teaching your immune system to behave. Our friend A just called, and you’re grade II low, with good margins. Your incision is healing, and it looks like we’ll have many more years to learn new tricks together.

Oh yes, Beagle. This, too, means lots and lots of food.


Your Person


  1. Happy to hear the medical good news, and always, ALWAYS happy to read your keen observations on what is standard beagle behavior. When you write about it, it’s funny. When I’m living it, not always so much…

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