Loyal Like a Dog

Dear Goddamned Beagle,

You have many talents I will admit. You can run, often with heavy appliances or tools in your mouth. You can smell a critter, treat or meal from a hundred miles away. You can steal like a French cat burglar, unimpeded by any height or environmental booby trap. You heat seek. Once that temperature drops below 55 Fahrenheit, you’re in and out that dog yard door at lightening speed, to be found at the nearest heat source before the door has even closed behind you.

Of all your many skills, sleeping is by far your strongest.

This has worked out well this month. It has been one month and one day since my month of maladies began, first with a fainting/low blood pressure episode, then a horrendous cold, which kindly paved the way for a massive case of the shingles, and then, to get away and destress, I headed to the Cape and broke my ankle. Not on purpose, mind you, but that’s what happened.

This has meant what are, for my tastes, way too many hours on the couch and in bed. Pain management has meant zoning in and out of drooling stupidity and varying lucidity.

Your Dogmother Eve has come to walk you each day, but except for that and a set-your-watch-by-it daily spate of shelf clearing – you seem to enjoy my inability to get up and reclaim the DVD, firewood, picture frame or computer charger – you’ve been more than willing to concentrate on your rest time.

Moving from bed to couch to self-heating dog bed by the fire, to kitchen dog bed (by the heat register of course), to couch and so on, you have seemed quite content, no matter how restless and nudgy and despairing my mood.

When I tripped into the construction hole and fell, my first thought was not the searing pain in my ankle. My first thought was you, as you sniffed your way along the road, unimpeded, unaware or unconcerned that I’d hit the ground. I shall take a minute here to suggest that you might dog better at times. For instance, another dog, one named Balto, led his sled dog team through hundreds of miles, in the dark in minus twenty-degree temperatures along an icy river of doom to save the children of Anchorage. I suspect he would have stopped. Instead, I shouted for your Auntie G while I rolled behind you, reaching for your leash.

Back home in convalescence, I’ve noticed that you move away from me, annoyed when I insist on too many covers. You seem to sense when I’m in my darkest times and move away. You’ve even started out some nights on the chair in our room instead of cuddling with me as I try to make a left side and right ankle agree on a comfortable position.

Still, each morning when I wake up, shoved to the edge of the bed, I know I’ll find you wrapped in most of the covers, nestled by my side.

You’re good company, Beagle.


Your Person


  1. The serum run in 1925 was to Nome, not to Anchorage. Technically the relay started in Anchorage, but the serum was transported by train from Anchorage to Nenana, thence via dog sled to Nome on the old Iditarod mail route. Temps were as cold as -60F. The final leg, led by Balto, was 53 miles but the (final) relief team musher was asleep so Balto’s team ran a double stretch, in the dark. The longest and most dangerous stretch was led by Leanard Seppala’s Togo. The best book by far about the serum run is “The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic” by Gay & Laney Salisbury.

    I’ve had a number of beagles (including 5 years with them in Fairbanks) and adore your column. Thank you so much for your blog!

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