I brought our new puppy into our house; a squirming, nipping mound of tri-colored cuteness we unanimously named Pennington after a soon-to- be traded quarterback. A beagle; pedigreed down to his waving white-tipped tail. Having committed to memory a plethora of award winning dog manuals, I felt ready to take on the task to acclimate him to our home. Easier said than done.
It soon became clear our little darling had a problem with food. It seemed anything he deemed to be edible and neared the general proximity of his open mouth – would be his. What was worse, it anyone dared to challenge; there would be blood. I watched in horror as the puppy whisperer I was referred to leaped over the arm of my couch to distance herself from my 3 pound puppy after securing a citronella shooting collar around his neck and attempting to remove a bone she had given him. After paying her the kings ransom she charged, and suggesting a good therapist whisperer of her own, I consulted my vet, God love her. She explained to me beagles naturally have food aggressions. That would have been a good line item for a dog manual.
It wasn’t long before Pennington found his voice, and what I mean is his howl. Yes, I was well aware the breed howled – but come on! This dog could wake the dead. We (and our neighbors) are made painfully aware of every car, truck, bike, bird, lizard, frog, toad, squirrel, zombie, and plane within a quarter mile of our zip code. And thunder? He has a genuine fear of it or anything that sounds like it. The problem is everything sounds like it and we live in South Florida – in a sub-tropical climate – it’s always thundering or preparing to. If I should list my angel’s fears – let me just say – if I had known his personality I would have named him Monk.
Now as he approaches his 7th birthday, his medical problems have mounted. A heart condition makes it necessary for a general anesthesia just to have his nine inch nails cut. His eye sight, suspect since birth, is worse. He has a skin condition causing him pain and severe itching and a degenerative disc disorder, common to his breed, that makes him cry out in pain.
And yet, I love him more than I love most people. Getting out of bed at ungodly hours to rub his back is not a chore nor is making sure his vet and specialists work to keep him comfortable and happy.
Could I have been warned of any of this in a manual? Would it have mattered?