Thursday, March 24, 2011
In Memory of Belle the Beagle: 1995-2011
Most people understand the bond between human and pet, especially that with dogs. They are a part of the family. There is a bond between human and dog that’s very different from one with a cat, guinea pig, bird, hamster, or goldfish, though each bond is unique and special in its own right. My familiarity resonates with dogs, animals that teach us many things – patience, responsibility, playfulness, and most importantly, unconditional love.
Belle was adopted to be a companion to Casey who, she herself a puppy, incessantly latched on to shoelaces and wouldn’t let go as you walked across the wood floor. Belle was a quiet unassuming puppy, unimpressed by Casey’s overwhelming welcome. Eventually, the two romped nicely together and sisterhood/friendship developed. Belle grew out of her bashfulness and into an exuberant hyperactive dog. She celebrated daily my arrival home, eager to see and welcome me. So eager in fact, that she could jump in excitement as high as your shoulder. I often thought we should’ve named her Tigger.
Belle was always a sweet one – if I was down and crying over something, she’d come over, prop her chin on my leg, make a big sigh, and look at me with those big beagle eyes, tail wagging, as if to say, “What can I do for you?” I just hugged on her, and she’d lick my face. Belle didn’t just lick you; she gave you love snaps. She was a notorious French kisser. She also had uncanny timing of getting her tongue in your mouth as you sweet-talked her. Belle cleaned a teary face and snotty nose pretty good too.
This beagle gave 110% commitment of energy behind her tail wagging. She’d wag her tail so hard her hind end would shimmy like Elvis’s hips. Her tail wagged when she was excited to see you, when it was suppertime, when she was getting ready to go outside, even when she was in trouble. Belle in trouble was like Snoopy’s vulture look, but with an endearing charm. Belle would incessantly wag that tail as you fussed at her for getting into the trash, hanging her head low, and looking up with those big black beagle eyes. Sometimes, you’d forget what you were fussing at her for because it tickled your funny bone. And once you chuckled, she had you. That head would come up, that tail wag wider and more intensely, and she’d be pouncing on those front paws as if she was saying, “Hey! Let’s forget about this and play!”
Belle was never into playing fetch; she never retrieved anything. She was more of a wrestler that loved to romp on the floor with you. But her enthusiasm would leave you with a scratch on the eye or a nip on the lip from her love snaps. So we’d wrestle undercover. I’d throw a blanket over her as her hind end jutted up in the invitation to play. She’d then roll over and manipulate the blanket with her feet, then turn back on her belly, still under the blanket and wait. Then you pick at her while she was still under the blanket, until she successfully wrestled herself out from under cover. Then we'd start over again.
The Chicken Sandwich incident was one Belle never lived down. Having enough for a half of a my favorite sandwich, I prepared in much anticipation: leftover chicken on bread smothered in mayo and topped with dill pickles. I set my plate on a side table, that sat lower than most tables in the TV sitting area, and stepped away for less than a minute to get my drink and a napkin from the kitchen. When I returned, my plate was empty. For a few seconds, I thought I’d actually forgotten to make the sandwich! I went back to the kitchen, then back to the table. What happened to my sandwich? I looked around the sitting area and there sat Belle with her head hanging low, innocently looking up with guilty eyes, licking her chops. She heard a loud mouthful out of me and that was the first and last time she took food off my plate.
Belle loved chasing squirrels. She relentlessly stalked them in our Longmont, Colorado yard. She’d prepared for the hunt, positioning into the classic sneak attack pose, and with an unquestioning belief that she’d get it each time, she’d carefully approach until BAM, she’d go in for the “kill.” Belle loved the outdoors. She’d peruse our fence line perimeter several times, knowing what critter had been where and when.
This beagle was multi-talented. She opened doors that weren’t completely latched shut, using her head to push her way into any room she pleased. More than once did Belle pop her head inside the bathroom door to check on how I was doing while taking care of business on the toilet.
There’s so much more I could share: her opening knobless bathroom cabinet doors to take shelter from a thunderstorm; the time Belle stuck her head out the window as I was rolling it up; the absolute appall she had when I brought a stray cat into the house with the intention to keeping it (Belle’s non-stop barking objections won out); the bland and unaffected reaction to middle-aged drunk women dancing their booties off to “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”; the time she crawled under my bed from one side to the other rather than walk around it; how she sold most of my furniture on Craig’s List within a day, not once but twice, with just her photo and the slogan, “Belle the Beagle says BUY BUY BUY!" Belle always mixed things up, kept me entertained and on my toes.
My Sweet Belle. She brought so much joy and laughter to me through her beagle antics and unconditional love. Oh, the unconditional love! Belle never held those moments in which I was a less than stellar human being against me. She was my greatest teacher of unconditional love, acceptance, and patience. Belle gave me fifteen wonderful years of all of these gifts, as well as amusement and companionship. She will be missed in the home, but forever etched in my memory and heart.