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Dog Days of Summer 2017 - Beagle Stories

Everywhere we go with Chance, which is to say everywhere that he goes with us, there are people telling beagle stories. It seems that everyone had a beagle during childhood, or a neighbor had a beagle, or an aunt . . . and the stories all sound pretty much the same. Escape artist, food thief, adorable little scamp, loves the kids - full of life!

Since Chance pretty much steals the show wherever We go, I have decided to dedicate this post to him ostensibly, but also to Beagles, the merry little hounds who make life so merry but not little. In fact, with a beagle in your life, nothing will ever be small again!

Fences grow larger, the defensive perimeter around the dinner table expands and deepens (there are times when you eat, standing up, at the kitchen counter!), even the suburban front yard must be supplanted by that acre in the foothills that can accommodate the roving rascal.

The Noble Hound Bootsie came to the suburban home of the Milligan Family on Labor Day 1997, but not without a few beagle stories of his own.

One prophetic tale involved his father, Bootsie Sr. This magnificently handsome hound necessitated rounding up the entire extended family staff of the Male Owner to conduct a search-and-rescue operation throughout his suburban tract home territory. Bootsie Sr. was finally found, but that story was an omen of how a beagle always needs more room — to roam. A gate left open is an invitation to at least an hour of your life spent in search of The Beagle, or Beagles.

Bootsie liked to work as part of the pack. He especially preferred the team effort of two, headed by the more industrious and adventuresome female. At the “country estate,” the acre to which Bootsie needed to escape (along with his owner) from the suburbs, this loving Puppy Boy would let Bonnie, the older female, dig the hole under the fence. If her huge barrel chest could slide under the wooden impediment to freedom, then he was gone-from-home-free!

After the local romp around town, the Doggie Duo stopped off at the local fire house. Who knows what the firemen were cooking that day! One fireman found the female beagle to be very friendly, but this male one, he wanted to go home.

Going Home was something that almost didn’t happen with Bonnie. It was the night of the All-Star Game in 1990, and her mother, Vanna Rae, had run off, yet again, down the street, and into the open fields. The little pup whimpered for the runaway mom, but I held her, and comforted her, certain that this little thing wouldn’t go gallivanting. And so the Milligans and their toddler son headed to their car with their very first beagle.

Within the next six months, or by the time that Dear Daughter was born, our picket gate had been encased in chicken wire to prevent the little pup from squeezing through the pickets and running away. Within days, the wee Bonnie used the grid of the wire to scale the gate with her puppy paws. She then headed out into the wide open spaces of Suburbia. Operation Find-Bonnie proceeded apace, and we took the wire off that gate!

That next year, during our spring yard-sale, Bonnie was confined to the back yard, behind that picket gate. She found her way into an area dubbed “No Man’s Land” — a 2-foot-wide space that ran the length between the back fence of our house and the back fence of the tract home development behind our house.

I do not recall what kind of food bait was used to lure howling Bonnie back under the wooden dog-eared fence and back into the Back Yard. Perhaps it was Dinosaur Grahams. Grahamy Bears were her preferred barter bites. She ate enough of them during my training sessions with her. She was trained to sit and I was trained to feed her!

Within the space of the next four years, I would learn how humiliating it was to have to bribe my beagle with food (usually part of a peanut butter sandwich) to get her out of the heavy construction equipment behind my suburban home and convince her to come to me, or at least to consider coming to me — or to even acknowledge my existence! The partial peanut butter sandwich had to compete with a half-sandwich of liverwurst and cheese in a baggie strewn on the compacted earth.

One summer night during 1997, Bonnie vanished the entire night. During that night, I decided it was time for me to emotionally invest in another dog. I’d had it. In the early morning, Bonnie showed up at the glass slider to the bedroom. She was all muddy and happy, after having eaten who knows what. My dear neighbor, Bonnie’s Advocate, was a bit upset with my decision, but the minute she saw little Bootsie Boy, Bonnie’s Advocate made room in her heart for another hound!

Bootsie Buonarroti Milligan was indeed hope over experience. He was the dog that changed lives for the better. And he’s still on the job, sending inspiration and instructions from his Puppy Boy perch in Heaven. Lucky Chancey Boy gets Rainbow Bridge lessons from all 3 beagles. He’s a fortunate and well-informed hound!

Chance comes from the Lanbur lineage that counts Uno among the illustrious members. Bridget was a distant cousin of Uno, but Chance is a great-nephew. He seems to understand that being Numero Uno is part of being a beagle, along with fetching and playing in his spring-loaded way, such as leaping up to the kitchen counter to grab my thongs that were placed there for protection from Sir Chewy. (We’ve since moved them to the fireplace mantel for safer-keeping.)

Chance is so happy just to start each day — being with the humans and chewing up toys like discarded storylines — It’s almost impossible not to laugh or tell a story or a joke whenever this merry little hound is around!

When Uno won Westminster in 2008, there were online articles written by actual beagle owners who thought the event was a joke, impossible, fake news long before Fake News. When we purchased our first beagle, Bonnie Lynne, the seller informed us that the Beagle had recently reached 3rd in the Hound Group. I was not aware that the Beagle was even entered into dog shows!

The following is an excerpt from a Detroit sports blog written by a beagle-owner who shall remain Anonymous because I cannot locate his name. Please read and enjoy another true story about America’s Dog as this owner learns about Uno in the Show Ring.

“I mean, a beagle? We are talking about a beagle? A little bit of disclosure here. I have owned a beagle for a majority of the last 21 years of my life (Axel and Chili) and I knew that training one is about as easy as hitting the Exacta.

I didn’t even have to read that no beagle had won the Westminster Dog Show in the 100 “Best in Show” competitions. Or that a beagle hadn’t even won the hound category since World War II. (I can’t even believe I know this now.)

A beagle winning the Westminster Dog Show? Hell, I don’t know how a beagle handler could get their dog to not jump into the crowd and snatch a fan’s cotton candy or popcorn right out of their mitts during the competition.

Between Axel and Chili I have witnessed a lot of behavior . . .

Axel used to figure out a different way each week to trick our cleaning lady out of her lunch. His patented move was to FAKE like he had to go outside to pee, get to the door and act like he was going outside only to make a sudden B-line for her tuna fish sandwich that was sitting on the kitchen table.”

My version of this beagle story involves Bonnie and me, at lunchtime, with a tuna fish sandwich on a plate on the kitchen table. I was distracted for a few minutes and had to leave the vicinity of the prey. When I returned to the table, Bonnie had jumped onto the chair and was removing the top slice of bread from the sandwich. Evidently, two pieces of bread presented too much starch for her doggie diet.

She was about to bite into the exposed fish when I intervened to take the sandwich away. She patiently waited while I made another sandwich, and then I put her outside, in the yard, where she probably went digging for something toxic to eat.

There was also the Baked Eggplant Episode. I very diligently sweated the slices of raw eggplant, and then I sautéed the slices of lightly breaded eggplant, choosing to use the same pieces of paper towel to drain the slices, about 10-12 of them.

Quite unwittingly, I placed the soggy, greasy paper towels into the garbage container which was behind me while I prepared this repast. And behind my back, Bonnie grabbed every single piece of soggy, greasy paper towel. I believe it was the tipping over of the garbage bin that alerted me to this almost-silent savaging of the soggy Handy-men.

The lovely and lively Bridget, the Baby Love, was also a direct cousin of “Miss P” — the 2nd Beagle to win Best in Show at Westminster (2015). “Bridgee" was known to have attitude. She was also known, routinely, to snout-inspect the grocery bags set on the tile floor of the entryway, the pitstop spot before the paper shopping bags were hauled into the kitchen. Bridget would then proceed to pull out only the pastries.

She ate a chocolate-icing-with-peanuts-donut and was still hungry. The most insulting food infraction involved her getting away with 3 of the 5 fingers of a bear claw. Chocolate is deemed dangerous for dogs, but this little 13-inch beagle once gobbled down an entire chocolate bar, dark-chocolate, with no apparent ill-effect.

Speaking of beagles and chocolate, the extremely superior sense of smell that Bonnie possessed led her to a box of See’s candies one Christmas. That holiday story remains a tale of olfactory amazement, truly one for the books. The 1-pound box of assorted darks was clad in the See’s wrapping paper. The rectangular box was hidden in a plastic bag. The bag was carefully tucked beneath several yards of material in my cardboard fabric box in my walk-in clothes closet.

One afternoon, Bonnie walked into the closet and sniffed out the 1-pound box of chocolate candy that would elude the sense of smell of most dogs. Not this one! I caught her just as she was about to tear into the bag. Interesting, to me, at least, that only the female beagles went after the chocolate, particularly the Dark Chocolate. The female of the species must be genetically programmed to hunt down cocoa butter!

The phrase, “One bite and it’s mine,” certainly applied to Bonnie. She was not known to share food, but rather to steal it, especially off of the top of the high-chair tray. I lost count of the number of Eggo waffles with peanut butter that she robbed from the plate of Dear Toddler Son.

Chance has followed the gentlemanly approach to sharing breakfast with me: a patient look, followed by the soft, pleading eyes which, if ineffective, produce the solemn, somewhat stunned stare of intense wounded pride. I usually wait another few moments before giving him a bite of the Digestive Biscuit or toasted English muffin. Otherwise, the gent in Mr. Chance will be deep-sixed and replaced with the placement of the snout, complete with wet flews, on either the table or the thigh.

So whenever anyone asks you if your Beagle would like a Wish-bone treat, and the dog is most polite: It’s all an act! Maybe even a game!

As for cooking with beagles, please do not attempt this feat. Beagles in the Kitchen is one reality tv show that defies reality!

One reality that some people cannot handle is the bay of the beagle. An extreme example is recounted in this post-Uno win article from February 2008 in The Christian Science Monitor. The writer is Peter Grier.

My beagles, Annabelle and Peanut, are the strangest sounding dogs of all time.

True story: I was walking them some weeks ago. We ran into a new neighbor, and the dogs got up on their back legs and laid on the pipes in greeting.

The woman’s hands flew to her face, as if to protect it; then her fingers parted, and she looked down, astonished.

“Why, they’re dogs,” she said.

“What did you think they were?” I asked.

“Well, I’ve been hearing that sound,” she said, “My husband and I, we didn’t know what it was. We thought it might be . . . geese!”

There’s a vision — a flock of hounds flying south in a “V”.

Annabelle is 14, a purebred beagle, with a bay that’s been a bit rough since that time she ate a nail. (Her x-ray, framed, decorates the vet’s waiting room.) The antique chess piece didn’t help either. And that was my fault, as I left the set on the stairs; in my defense, I didn’t think she’d do it. Most species consider ivory to be inedible.

Peanut is 11, a mix of beagle and some less stoic breed, such as dachshund, or hamster. She’s peevish, like an aging princess who suspects she might never become queen. Lately she’s lost some teeth and the result is a whistling overtone in her howl, and increased volume to the side.

Incidentally, they’re mildly amusing. Put them together and it’s entertainment magic, like Fred and Ginger, or Starsky and Hutch.”

I'll go with the Starsky and Hutch comparison since I cannot imagine a beagle in high heels or even shoes. My beagles have all been very sensitive about their paws being touched (wiped clean of mud), especially their front ones. Chance thinks of his front paws as hands! They possess the manual dexterity of human phalanges!

I think that his ultimate goal is to write his own story — about a heroic beagle who does not need a sidekick or a female hound to dig out of the yard. He shows very little inclination to dig, but he does climb, so my guess is that the spirit of Bonnie guides him, in ways I can only imagine . . . With a beagle, you can believe anything!


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