Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The saga of Barney the Beagle - Part 1

      This story was 20 years in the making and I've had countless requests to tell the tale, so here it is.  As I start this, I am not sure how many blogs it will take to tell the tale well, but I do know the number is more than 1.  I hope that we became better pet owners as we aged, but those of you who are just starting out, use this as a cautionary tale.  You have my word that each of these incidents is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.....

Barney and the kids

     We got the news about the offer for the house and were elated. We had moved in and out of 3 apartments by then and wanted something that we could make our own, and change how we saw fit.  Home ownership
All puppies are cute, it's a universal truth. 
was in our blood, show me any graph that documents how renting and investing the savings puts you further ahead than actually owning a home, and I'll ignore it, cuz we want what we want.  The house came first, but shortly thereafter came the thought of owning a pet (well, we already had a baby).  You see it wasn't possible in any of the other living situations, so we were drunk with the idea that we could actually do this now, and therefore rushed into the decision like an 21 year old who is finally able to legally drink, that is to say, with reckless abandon. The Saga began with me reading 5 simple words in an ad in the local paper, "Free to a good home...".   "Honey" I shouted from my perch on the couch, "There is a couple giving away a free Beagle a few streets away from where you work, and it's a purebred with papers and everything" (Author's note"  Just cuz something says it's pure doesn't make it better, pure horseshit, after all,  is still horseshit). Char was as excited as I was, and we did have a short discussion about what kind of dog it was,
There is a sucker born every minute.....
to which I added, "Oh we had a Beagle mixed breed when I was growing up and she was great. (Shout out to Princess, our family mutt for most of the time I lived in my folk's home).  We called immediately and amazingly were able to go over and see the dog right then (Act Now!).  I later thought of all the things that could have happened to not put Barney in our lives, paper not delivered, me not reading paper, car wreck on the way to see the dog, running into anyone who knew anything about Beagles prior to going to see Barney..... The list is endless but it wasn't meant to be, that dog and I were destined to be together, one way or another. 

     The couple introduced us to Barney, who was as cute as you'd thought he'd be.  He was six weeks old and small and placid, and just begging for us to pet him. As I replay that first meeting in my mind, I'm sure that I asked some probing questions, but every time I did, I was presented with dog cuteness and getting answers
We did our research, after the fact
to my questions seemed suddenly less important.  They did claim that the dog was house trained (Cool, less work for us!), and they had to let the dog go, as they lived in an upstairs small apartment and it wasn't fair to the dog to keep him there.  We had a big yard and immediately envisioned the dog outside playing in it (Oh, they were good).  They showed us his water and food bowls (they were thrown in), and they did mention that they had let Barney sleep with them in their bed.  We thought that was cute, but had no interest in letting a dog share our bed, but were sure we could correct that behavior.  After a half an hour's visit, our decision had been made and we started to arrange when we could pick up Barney, but they insisted we could take him then, why wait?, so we headed home as proud dog owners, and with a purebred to boot!

     We got Barney home and introduced him to Molly, and of all the bad things I will write about this dog, how he treated our kids will not be one of them.  Barney took immediately to Molly, and later to Danny and Nolan.  He was no different than most dogs, as he didn't like to be bothered when eating,(who does?),
but he was always affectionate towards our kids (Now, the neighborhood kids are another story, but I'm foreshadowing too much already).  That evening we settled Barney down on a small bed that we had purchased, and went upstairs for some much needed sleep. Barney, however, had other plans. We had barely gotten tucked in when he jumped on our bed and started to snuggle in.  We liked to sleep with the door open, so we could listen for the baby at night, so this presented a conundrum.  We made the trip down the stairs a few times, explaining each time (to a dog), how this was where he was supposed to sleep, but somehow the dog didn't understand and came back up each time.  We finally closed the door and listened to the dog whine outside the door, but once again were confident that we could overcome this, we had let Molly put herself to sleep successfully, after all, and isn't a baby crying worse than a dog whining? Of course it is.  The failing in our thought process was that Molly was a pretty sharp baby, and unfortunately, no one ever accused Barney of being smart, ever. We eventually bought an eye-hook and a short chain and started chaining Barney to the wall near his bed downstairs when we went to sleep.  He still whined each night, but we couldn't hear it as well from a floor away.  It was the 2nd or 3rd day of doing this that I noticed the molding on the wall next to Barney was all
The wall near Barney's bed
chewed up.  He had been eating the wall each night while we slept.  By this point we were soliciting advice from neighbors, friends, family and complete strangers.  The advice came fast and furious but usually ended 
with "Oh, I don't know if it works for Beagles"   You see, the smart dog owners classified dogs in 2 classes, Trainable (non-Beagles) and non-trainable (Beagles).  We, on the other hand were still learning this lesson.  We tried one trick of painting the wall with Tabasco, which made the wall a nice orange color, to only find out that Barney had a taste for Tabasco (Shout out to my friend Mike Shasky who represents Tabasco, he would have loved Barney, but he didn't have to live with him).  We eventually learned of the "cage training" method and borrowed a cage that my mother owned for a few weeks so that we could "train" Barney.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the "House Trained" dog that we got for free, wet in our house every night since the very first night that we owned him.  So we borrowed the cage to help with that too, but it was a short term loan, after all, How long can it take to train a Beagle?.......

End of Part 1

No one, EVER accused Barney of being smart



Christine Wilson-Simonson said...

Former Beagle owner.....

Daphne Mays said...

LOL!!! Good company, Christine! Basset owner here. Take your story with minor adjustments and you have our story too. I suspect your one sentence ought to be re-worded to say, "You see, the smart dog owners classified dogs in 2 classes, Trainable (non-hounds) and non-trainable (hounds)." If my hound lives to 15 I think I'll do myself in first!!!!