My K9, Albert, is an ornery old man. I’m 90% sure he’s the reason for the bulging disc in my lower back and why I’ll never dismiss the thought of a dog obedience class again. My son Hunter, who at the time was six when we acquired our cantankerous K9, desperately wanted a dog like most kids. I was fine with this. So I perused dog pedigree books, pooch magazines, polled my “dog” friends for their furry opinions, and took online quizzes to get an idea as to what tail-wagger would mesh with our family’s personality. The answer to my research didn’t take long to reveal itself. Unanimously, paws down…. BEAGLE.
Al was born in Folkston, GA, which was roughly an hour away from where we were living at the time. Hunter and I eagerly drove to Folkston one early spring evening after I’d left work and picked him up from school. Eventually, we arrived at a dilapidated home of a retired couple who bread various dogs for supplemental income. The couple was sweet and you could tell their hearts swelled, like proud grandparents, when they escorted us to the kennels and allowed Hunter to choose his pet. Albert had several brothers and sisters which made the decision of choosing a pup trying for a six-year-old, however, Hunter’s heart and eyes eventually landed on Albert and it was love at first woof.
Hounds have a butt load of energy and endurance. Heck, if tethered to a fire truck with a hare or quail in their sights, I’m certain they could move the truck in an attempt at a catch! When they’re not running, it’s my philosophy that they’re priming for a trip (or often was the case for us, an escape). Beagles are adorable, but stubborn dogs. They can’t help it. They were bread to hunt. They catch a whiff and instantaneously they’re transformed like an autobot into a trail tracking beagle-bugling maniac! Their “sweet” part of their brain flips off while their blinders turn on and their long ears aide in funneling in the scent they’re after.
Because of all my initial research we were aware of Al’s instinctive need to have his nose to the ground, white-tipped tail up, and run. Taking him on walks and allowing him free reign of the backyard wasn’t always enough, and so, we’d often bring him with us during our bike rides. Courageously, I’d hold the end of his tethered lead while his little happy ass ran alongside my bike. Hunter was always within a small radius of us on his bike doing wheelies or peddling alongside me gabbing about sports, school, friends, and anything else that popped in his head. Most of our family cycling adventures were entertaining. I was mom in the middle of our precarious three ringed-circus cruising down the road.The majority of the time our cycling trips went smoothly. Yet there were times when Hunter would fixate on something other than what was immediately ahead of him and smack the asphalt. If Albert’s olfactory lobe was triggered by a reminiscent feline trace I could be in trouble, despite my tenacity at keeping balanced. For those times I became unbalanced, I usually landed in yard spitting out grass blades and profanity all the while hearing the infamous beagle bugle terrorizing the neighborhood yards.It’s hard to hold on to everything when you’ve busted it, especially the hound. Albert always darted after felines. Perhaps this is because he knows they’re conspiring an underworld cat takeover that we humans are clueless about. Al would always spot a cat meddling about in its own yard, minding its own business, licking its own balls, and having no clue of what wanted to chase them. The times Albert did escape me during our outdoor adventures, the cats always outsmarted him. Besides if he actually ever caught a cat I don’t think he’d know what to do.
I learned over the years that the best solution to an escaped beagle is to let him roam. I can’t begin to tally the number of successful and failed attempts that Hunter and I have put into lassoing up Al during a neighborhood breakout. Hunter could usually do well by tackling Albert, like a defensive football player would an opposing player, but it wasn’t easy. There was no gentle or easy way to corral our transfixed hound. Forget yelling his name, offering a tantalizing treat, or a spot on the cover of Dog Fancy to get him to return. When the hearty hound was off following his nose, a mountain of Milk Bones wouldn’t break his focus! I often felt if he could have given me the finger while escaping he would have. I never got comfortable with letting Albert roam, BUT he always returned home. I’d pray in the interim that he wouldn’t get hurt. I realize this isn’t very cool of me, especially considering the neighborhoods we cycled through were upper class which was probably home to prominent lawyers, or people whose friends were lawyers, who wouldn’t hesitate to sue my ass for dog negligence and disturbing the peace!
Despite all his escapes we love our beagle. He’s had a very happy life. He still ditches us when he can, but as usual, he returns. He’s slowed down in his older age making catching him a little less of a challenge to catch!