Change Is For Slot Machines

Dear Goddamned Beagle,

Today is National Dog Day, so I feel I should try to clarify recent events out of respect for the holiday.

Thing 2 and She Thing 2 are moving out, heading to their new apartment, just like Thing 1 and She Thing 1 did last month. Because of this, the house has been filled with boxes and packing items.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll be left with all the Things’ junk, forevermore on hold in mausoleum bedrooms like 3D snapshots they get to pull out of their wallets once in a while and visit. This does not please me, so I’ve been digging out, clearing long-forgotten items and decades-old mementos and hotel receipts and parts to things, in an effort to not be weighed down by an anchor of sentimentality, entitlement and inertia.

The PT people are making me rearrange my office set-up to be more “ergonomically sustainable.” Those are two fancy words meaning, “Some physical therapist must own stock in an expensive chair company.” More rearranging, with bags and bags of things to shred and recycle, moved furniture and books and files and games and dog toys and amp and guitar cables and language flash cards.

In a domino effect, this has led to me cleaning out my bedroom closets for a clothes giveaway, washing the bedding you’ll burrow under soon enough, and throwing out 400,000 socks without mates. Someday there will be nothing left on the planet but single socks and Allen wrenches that came with…something.

Our French renter left, her suitcases sitting in the hall overnight as you glared at them. Our Turkish renter just got back from a week in New York, and her suitcases also sat downstairs overnight before she left. They do this so as not to disturb us very early in the morning, Beagle. Not to threaten us.

Then Auntie G and Auntie E came over for dinner with Daisy and Joe. The Aunties and I will be going on a trip together in October, so I dug out a couple of carry-on suitcases for them to borrow. Suitcases always spell trouble, according to you. You’ve let me know this many times as I’ve gone off on trips. You’ve been reminding me of this in no uncertain terms lately. You have been, in a word, horrible.

In a recent two hour period I took from your mouth: Five different Chapsticks; a AAA battery; two hair ties; seven shoes; another AAA battery; the black plastic back to whatever thing is now missing batteries – I haven’t figured that out yet; a guitar pick; another AAA battery; the fireplace remote; three pens; a Sharpie; a highlighter; and a roll of Scotch tape.

You’ve pushed open the basement door to pee down there twice in the last week, even though I was home and had let you out shortly before each episode.

You’ve jumped off the bed at night, very unlike you, to scrounge and dig in the not-yet-put away clothing from the closet, and scratch at a long lost piece of kibble between the tiles of the fireplace.

You’ve bitten at my hands. You tried to hump me twice. You’ve howled at the doorbell, something you rarely do. You’ve done it a lot. Your howl sets off the doorbell repeater, which causes you to howl at the doorbell, which sets off the repeater, which causes you to howl. Were you aware that I’ve been fighting a headache lately?

Thing 2 and She Thing 2 informed me, after taking you for a walk a few days ago, that you’d “pooped out a really big, capsule-shaped thing. Like, really big.” I’m not quite sure what to say about that.

You got into a scuffle in the dining room with Daisy, again, not like you. You’re usually a much better host. When I lifted you out of the arena and handed you to Thing 2, he put you on the couch and put the blanket over you. You made not a peep, and when I went to check on you 5 minutes later you were looking miserable, throat soaking wet where Daisy had tried to gum you to death. Even your dessert thievery was half-hearted, and Auntie E easily got to the plate before you scored.

The only time you’ve been yourself all week is when I sit on the couch. Even that took some getting used to as I’ve changed where I usually sit in order to ease a painful neck. Then you lie down, touching my hip and burrito in your usual fashion. I notice, though, that you keep your nose out, your eyes barely covered. And while I usually go about my chores and work, getting up, sitting down, poking around in my desk, making tea, all while you sleep, nowadays you follow me everywhere.

You normally settle right in to the window seat in the kitchen when I sit there to have tea, but last night you didn’t. You stared at me intently, mouth firmly set. There was no jollity, no twinkle in your bulging eyes. You just stared. Lisa and Blue came up for a few minutes, but you ignored Blue’s usual meek taunting as he ran by with your bully stick. You gave Lisa a glance, but quickly returned to your mind-melding efforts:

Stop the change. Sit on the couch. This is not OK with me. Cut the shit. Stop all this different.

It’s OK, Beagle. You are my Goddamned dog, and you shall remain here regardless of any other objects or people that might depart, or my frequent threats to murder you. As you lie here next to me, snoring like an adenoidal grizzly bear, I will remind you again that it is National Dog Day. You should worry about nothing more than having been adequately treated (chicken for lunch, scrambled eggs for dinner), adequately pampered (I washed all your blankets), and adequately entertained (a long walk, a few games, and a frozen Kong this afternoon). More renters will come, the Things and She Things will visit, and the house will soon be messy once again. Never fear.

Your Person


  1. I’m completely worn out by just under 2 weeks of our new adoptee, a 1-1/2 yr, 27-lb beagle mix. I will freely admit that the only creature (this includes humans) that has every scammed and outsmarted me completely was a beagle that I had the misfortune to babysit. Fucker had a plan to get out of his kennel and out of the yard, executed it flawlessly. I just remember walking back into the house, having just watched his little beagle butt vanishing under the fence, shaking my head, thinking “fuck, I just got totally, completely outsmarted by a dog. You want to know what humility is? Having to accept that you just got totally, completely outsmarted by a dog. I work with engineers who can”t plan every contingency as well as that dog did. He came back a few hours later, very happy, having broken into every home in the neighborhood and eating all the cat food left out. He”d done that part before. I wasn”t even mad. He”d earned it, after all. But I made sure he was crated or inside for the rest of my time with him. Beagles are amazing. But I”d never own one. They”re smarter than me.

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