It was all she asked for her 16th birthday. A puppy. And not just any puppy. She’d done her homework, spending more time on dog breed research than on her school assignments.

And so, in mid-October 2005, at 7 weeks old, the beagle pup who chose our daughter came home. She was all ears and liquid brown eyes; and running from the base of her chrome dome to the tip of her black and brown snout was the thin white line of fur that inspired our daughter to name her new best friend Stripe.

From the start, Stripe was true to her beagle nature. Wily and single-minded, within days of joining the family, she executed the first of her inspired escapes — nosing open the zipper of a portable nylon crate. Later, she’d seek out or dig her own gaps underneath the fences of two different backyards to pull off additional daring breaks.

She needed to go where her hound nose led her, and that made even her earliest walks battles of wills. In her less independent moments, she spent hours curled up on my lap as I worked, following me around everywhere and mastering the hill cresting our backyard, flying down the steep incline on stubby legs, ears flapping, eyes fully alive with the sheer joy of being a puppy.

It didn’t take Stripe long to find her “haruuuuu” call. It was how she expressed excitement, curiosity, pride and fear. It was never overdone, except when she was anxious, and completely absent when she was finding her way into trouble.

And trouble might’ve been her middle name, especially if a temptation was edible. More than once I detected paw prints on the dining room table. I witnessed her inhale a hotdog, roll and all, stealthily snatched out of my hand. Then there was the entire coffee cake she wrangled off the sideboard, leaving only a completely crumb-less clamshell box as evidence of her devious deed.

It was never hard to forgive the beautiful beagle so deeply attached to her family that she chewed a hole through a wall and tore several front door side window curtains to get to where she thought we were. She loved to give kisses, snuggle, play and nap near us; and her shy, tolerant temperament was consistently demonstrated with her two adopted “brothers,” as well as any stranger she met, human or canine.

But even angels age, and ours developed dementia, causing her to circle so constantly her spine was curving, and walking straight was nearly impossible. Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with bladder cancer, explaining her growing incontinence. Visits to the vet began to include such topics as “quality of life” and “the final act of kindness.”

Which is what we gave our sweet little girl on a Saturday afternoon last month. We spent the morning holding her and making her as comfortable as possible. A video conference call gave our distant kids a chance to say goodbye to one of the loves of our lives. It wasn’t easy, but it was time.

Her final moments were peaceful. She died as gently as she’d lived. My husband and I were with her, petting and speaking softly to her as she found peace.

Now, at last, she’s free of pain and anxiety, hopefully chasing around with her old buddies, Copper and Scarlett, and being fussed over by my father-in-law, who doted on her.

I’m not sure what I believe happens after death, but as I’ve often said, I wouldn’t much fancy a forever without dogs. They’re a touch of heaven on this side of eternity, why not on the other?

Woodsboro’s Susan Writer and family deeply miss our furry best friend. Reach her at susanthinkingoutloud@yahoo.com or visit her at Uexpress.com’s Ask Someone Else’s Mom.

(9) comments

threecents

Someone must be cutting onions. Great column.

Her final moments were peaceful. She died as gently as she’d lived. My husband and I were with her, petting and speaking softly to her as she found peace....that's exactly how I plan to say goodbye to my dog, when the time comes. Such a beautiful vision you have given us all.

Dwasserba

I love a beagle story! Ours was called Begaly - which is a French last name. Beagles are French.

gabrielshorn2013

Beautiful story Ms. Writer.

gary4books

Dogs can be the spice in our lives. Well said, Susan.

sevenstones1000

Sorry, but beagles are not the optimal family pet, and your daughter should have learned that with even cursory research. Yes, they are adorable. But they are hunting dogs who belong in the outdoors doing the work they were bred to do, not confined to fenced backyards and neighborhoods where they cannot give full throated voice to their belling.

I do not encourage families to seek out this breed as a house pet.

gabrielshorn2013

Don't want one? Don't get one seven. This is your opinion, and not based entirely on fact. Beagles can make great home companions. We had several as I was growing up. It's all in the owners and their ability (and willingness) to train their dogs.

veritas

sevenstones... six stones for a brain, one for a heart. You are a real piece of work, dude.

rlmmkm

You put the "I" in idot!!!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!