Beagles I have known

My advice to anyone considering a beagle puppy as a pet is to go ahead and name the dog “Dammit” when you get it.   This will save the beagle much confusion throughout its life because, “Dammit,” is how you will end up addressing the animal most of the time.  Having said that, beagles are personable, charming and loyal especially when there is food involved (for them).  They are also extraordinarily energetic and stubborn and they “ain’t nothin’ but hound dogs” once they get on a scent. My definition of a beagle is this: a nose and a tail which are always in motion connected by a stomach that is always hungry.  Funny and frustrating, they are never boring.

Freckles

In "dog heaven" with Freckles & my two-tone shoes

My first beagle, Freckles, came into my life when I was a pup, myself, on Myrtle Street in Jackson, Mississippi.  Memories of Freckles are fond and, as an only child, I must have found him to be someone to play with and keep up with my own pre-six-year-old energy.  My dad was an accountant and one of his friends found Freckles for us and he certainly kept me busy as a kid.  One day Freckles disappeared and never returned. We always believed he might have gone off after a rabbit or something in the woods that were later removed to make room for Interstate 55.  That taught me in later adult beagle ownership to always have a fence or a pen – a beagle will follow a scent wherever it may lead.

Travis McGee…or “I gave my love a beagle and she married me anyway.” 

When Gail and I were dating and getting serious, I decided that I would give her a beagle.  She already had a big, lovable retriever/something/mix named Gold Rush.  Her beloved dachsund Huey had died so she began to talk about getting an “emergency backup dog” for Gold Rush.  She had a dog pen behind her house, so I knew she loved dogs and had a place to keep another one.  When Gail got home from work one day, I escorted her to the dog pen where I had made a sign that read, “Travis McGee, Salvage Expert.”  And there in the pen was the barking beagle puppy I had named after mystery author John D. MacDonald’s legendary private investigator.

The ever-curious Travis McGee, Salvage Expert

“Salvage expert” was a good job description for Travis because he was, like all beagles, an incessant snoop with his nose always in action.  He proved to be an escape artist by jumping from the roof of his doghouse over the fence of the dog pen.  This happened several times and he always went around the front door of the house, proud of himself, as if to say to us, “Look, I did it again!” After Gail and I married and moved to a house with a fenced-in backyard, he and Gold Rush seemed determined to reach Beijing through one of the many deep holes they dug in the yard.  We had a deck with a built-in bench and Travis would mount it with his back feet on the bench and front feet on the rail and survey the backyard kingdom he and Gold Rush shared.  When he struck that pose, I referred to him as “Captain McGee on the poop deck.”

Once, after he began to get older, he jumped off that deck running at Man O’ War speed chasing who knows what and broke his leg.  After costly surgery, Travis had to wear one of those odd looking cones around his neck to prevent him from bothering his stitches.  Beagles live to sniff and the cone just about drove him crazy because it kept his nose from reaching the ground.  I composed a limerick about his situation:

There was an unfortunate beagle

Who thought he could fly like an eagle

He jumped off the deck

Broke his leg -not his neck

And the vet bill should be deemed illegal.

A diva by any other name

…is the beagle we own now.  Our current critter is a little diva named after the Mississippi John Hurt song, “My Creole Belle.” She is the most cheerful, fun-loving dog I have ever seen.  And why wouldn’t she be happy?  Belle acts as if she might brag to other beagles about her “2,200 square-foot air-conditioned and heat-controlled dog house, complete with a butler and maid.”  She’s the first female dog we’ve ever owned and she seems to be far and away more intelligent than Travis was.  That’s good and bad, depending upon what she has a mind to do.  When we got her, Gail and I took her to obedience school.  It really worked well because we seem to do everything she wants us to.

Our Creole Belle

If it weren’t for Belle, I might never consider things like my blood pressure or what it’s like to sleep until daylight.  But just as those things cross my mind, she’ll do something really funny or curl up beside my desk and snooze away as I work.  The peaceful, loyal office dog, right out of a Norman Rockwell painting or the L.L. Bean catalogue. Who could resist a scene like that?   Then she wakes and howls at a volume that would give a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier a run for its money. Put another dollar in the jukebox, baby, she’s on a roll!

But all in all, it’s like this: Beagles – you gotta love ‘em.  Dammit.

Visit www.leskerr.com and follow Les on Facebook and Twitter.

Text and photos copyright 2012 by Les Kerr.

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About Les Kerr

Les Kerr is a songwriter, recording artist, journalist and author originally from the Gulf Coast now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn More about Les at www.leskerr.com
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16 Responses to Beagles I have known

  1. Libby Lu says:

    OH, this one made me smile, Les! I love a good dog story or two or three, especially when well written and involving great names.
    Libby

  2. DALE SULLIVAN says:

    LOVE IT! i’M MORE A CAT PERSON, BUT HAVE HAD DOGS IN THE PAST, ALTHOUGH NEVER A BEAGLE.

  3. edie mosley says:

    OH MY GOODNESS, THIS IS THE BEST STORIES I HAVE EVER READ. I JUST LOVED THEM AND NOT BECASUE THEY ARE ABOUT DOGS, OF COURSE, AND I LOVE DOGS, BUT BECAUSE I KNOW BELLE AND LOVE HER AND SHE IS MY NEIGHBOR. I WISH THE OTHERS HAD BEEN MY NEIGHBOR TOO………..WHAT A LOVELY WAY TO PUT ALL THESE LITTLE PUPS INTO WONDERFUL, FUN AND TRUE STORIES AND WITH PICTURES TO GO WITH THEM MAKES IT EVEN BETTER………GREAT, THANKS FOR SHARING THESE!!!
    EDIE

  4. Bud says:

    My Mom had a beagle that could wolf down a whole burger, chew, swallow and spit out the onions!Crazy dog…loved it!

  5. Very enjoyable Les. Allow me to share our beagle story…
    While living in Hattiesburg back in the 80’s, Dana and I owned a beautiful little beagle named Daisy. Just as you described your beagles, she was sweet, lovable, mischevious, adventureous, frustrating, etc. I got her as a companion to Dana for our pre-parenting days. Despite having a fenced-in backyard, she consistently found her way out and in to full exploratory mode throughout our neighborhood. Finally, at my wits end, I took her to the pound to put her up for adoption, deciding that the world was just too big for her to be living in our backyard. A couple of days later, we were notified that she would be the featured pet on WDAM’s adopt a pet segment that afternoon. An hour before air time, I called the station and told them we couldn’t go through with it, and we would be by to pick her up. We still would have the same problems though, so we shipped her off to live with my parents in Agricola, Ms. (where I grew up, 10 miles south of Lucedale)… She became a loyal and constant companion to my parents for the next 10 years or so. And, as was meant to be for beagles, she thrived on living in the countryside. One day, Daisy went off on an adventure and never returned home. I’d like to think that she’s still chasing a rabbit or something in the woods of southern George County…

  6. Scott Baxter says:

    Les, Thanks for the great and entirely accurate summary of the essence of Beagles! When I got our beagle Mitch at the Nashville Humane shelter 10 years ago, it didn’t take long to see that he needed like-minded company. We got another beagle, Felix, and the two of them were fantastic “hunting” companions on their long leashes when I just “walked” in the Warner Parks. Felix finally died of old age and we got Tippy and our first female beagle, Cookie. Now all three are happy in their heated shed in our back yard.
    They are loyal, devoted friends of each other and our family, and their sensitivity to deer and other wildlife smells is uncanny. My advice to people without Beagles is get one or two at first just to see how wonderful they area, and then get several more.
    Scott Baxter

  7. photographybyjoylene says:

    We have had 2 beagles (they are so cute!) and one of them was named Linda. That’s what you get when you let your kids name the dog!

  8. susan says:

    I babysat a Beagle once and pretty much fell in love with it. I’ve heard many stories about them following their noses though. I suspect my own dog is somehow distantly related. She’s determined to smell every blade of grass in Davidson County. (Enjoyed your music yesterday at Oyster Easter – it’s been a few years since I photographed that event and they couldn’t have asked for a nicer day)

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