11 February 2023
“We” — my Muse and I — have climbed down from that Uncompahgre Plateau, now that THE SILENT HEART has been completed, and e-published. The canine character called Buttermilk is presently a literary reality, based upon the real-life beagle, Chance.
Chancey Boy seems to know it. He’s been rascally as of late, and quite full of himself.
With a hound this larger-than-life, one must find the proper use for all of that personality!
I’d originally planned to depict Buttermilk as a bloodhound, but the more that I observed my beagle, the more I knew that he was ready for his close-up. Some of his most characteristic (!) traits and behaviors have been described in this Western, to the best of my human ability.
“We” are back to being hound dog and owner. My appreciation of this Lanbur beagle does not end with his use as the faithful and fun companion of Riego Riley. Chance has had to put up with my imposed isolation from him at various intervals during the past year while I wrote SHADOW, THE LAST WALTZ, SILVER DAGGER, and THE SILENT HEART.
“We” have together-time to catch up on, although Chance is never truly far from me, at any time. He’s one pack animal who designated me as the leader from the very start of his new life here in California. This jet-a-pet from Missouri took to his literary-support duties very quickly, and he’s accomplished wondrous results for this writer.
As for me, I’ve a hefty assignment, scouting out new trails to follow, and, sometimes, to forge. Chance enjoys sniffing new scents!
Sniffing new scents is the real story of the real Buttermilk, the Climbing Beagle. This stray had been brought, for his own safety, to a shelter in Norfolk, Virginia. Several years ago, this hound gained fame, and public notoriety, through an online video.
He’d escaped, several times, from that pen. Buttermilk, like my first beagle Bonnie, had figured out how to successfully scale a chain-link fence (with Puppy Bonnie, it was a picket-gate covered with chicken-wire). Each hound used the same type of technique, gripping the metal wire with paws, and hoisting the beagle-body upwards toward liberation.
After a few harrowing experiences with this canine escape artist, the employees of the rescue shelter installed a camera to keep an eye on Buttermilk; and to find out how he was getting out of the fenced canine coop. One video showed the kennel, the 6-foot chain-link-fence, and Buttermilk, whimpering his crying howl, as he made his great getaway, claw-climbing up the fence and over it —- to freedom and newer paths to sniff!
This digital video led to yet another return of Buttermilk, the ultimate Rescue Dog — to the shelter, along with the subsequent adoption of this beagle by the kind folks who had brought this run-away hound back to a place he definitely did not call home.
All’s well that ends well, for the real and for the fictional Buttermilk too.
We’ve not built any fences for Chance to scale at our house in the forest. We simply wait for him to run back home after his flight-time in the woods has sufficiently bored him. Chasing after him has proven to be too much of a game, for him, and an exhausting frustration, for us. The faster you go after this beagle, the faster he runs away from you.
If you walk away, he unfailingly feels he’s been left behind. This tactic is not reverse psychology; it’s beagle-ology. Running through the nearby marsh really muddies him up. Only then does he feel adequately houndy and happy - and ready for clean-up and his close-up!