I have been in a bit of a funk lately. It could be the gun metal gray skies. It could be the dreary economic news and ever rising gas prices. It could be the coming switch to daylight savings, which means more darkness in the morning. It may be the slow spiral of Charlie Sheen, who seems inextricably on course to very public self destruction. (Why do I think he may soon be found naked in a closet hanging by the neck from his own belt?)
The other day, at 04:godawfulinthemorning, I was awakened by beagle tongues licking my face. Maggy and Sherman had decided that now was the time for me to get up and take them on their first walk of the day. My beloved wife, Yvette, still in bed, gets up somewhere around this time so she can leave for work a little after 6 a.m.
After much groaning and delay, I finally got up and out of bed. The Sun had not yet seen fit to arise. Lampos and Photon had yet to be hitched to the chariot of Helios to pull it past the bowl of the horizon and into the sky. As near as I could tell, even God was still in bed.
Seeing their merry, disgustingly joyful, disposition, I commented out loud, "It must be a good day to be a beagle." Then I realized that every day is a good day to be a beagle. The expression, "a dog's life," has turned 180-degrees. It used to mean a life of difficulty on the fringe. Now it is something a kin to being the idle rich.
It's hard to not love Beagles. Oh sure, some people have issues with their barking or stubbornness, but beagles are "regular Joe's," not "foo-foo" dogs. If they could, boy beagles would wear baseball caps and carry a can of Skoal. Girl beagles would drink their beer from cans nestled in pink Harley-Davidson can coozys. Beagles would rather "hang with the guys" in a hunting or fishing camp than pretend to be princes or princesses on thrones. (Nevertheless, they are decidedly sooner hounds; they would sooner be on the couch than on the ground.)
Beagles have a remarkable sense of optimism. No matter how many hundreds of nights in a row you move a beagle from your spot in the bed, the next night he or she will still hop in before you fully expecting that tonight night you will be the one to sleep on the floor. I can't tell you how many times I have come to bed and seen Maggy pretend to be sound a sleep in my spot and mentally extend roots into the mattress hoping that I won't move her.
I have never met a beagle that ever received enough love. Sherman and Maggy are no exception. Every visitor, after the sniffing, jumping, and licking, is looked at with the saddest eyes telling the visitor that no one has ever loved them. "Would you please scratch my ears and rub the sides of my face?"
But don't think that petting or scratching them will garner you any special treatment. As soon as they detect that you are planning on sitting on an upholstered chair, they will jump up first and insist on squatters rights.
Despite their disarmingly happy and friendly dispositions, Maggy and Sherman make excellent watch dogs. They are eternally curious and bark at anyone or anything trespassing on their turf. You may sometimes think that they bark for no reason, but in all likelihood, you simply don't see the chipmunk or squirrel.
Beagles were bred for hunting small game, often in pairs, occasionally as individuals or in packs. Virtually without exception, beagles have a live or let die attitude. They are generally as laid back and accepting as a domesticated animal can be. However, there are just some occasions when if it is small, fuzzy, and cute, it must die. When roused to action, beagles rarely quit before attaining their objective. This is particularly true of Sherman who has field champions in his lineage. When he gets on a sent, he kicks it into four wheel drive and can nearly pull me behind him.
In my experience, without exception, beagles all have remarkable personalities. Love you for who you are, not for what you have or what you do. Beagles nourish your spirit. I think I'll be taking the rest of the day off to for a "play date" with Maggy and Sherman.
I think I feel better already.