She ate a bongo drum while we were in Bora Bora. Not the whole thing- that would be piggish- no, she only ate the drumheads, the animal skins, that were stretched across the two open ends of the instrument. At that moment, everything I'd read, everything I'd heard about her and her kind was confirmed: beagles do indeed march to the beat of their own drum. Quite literally, it turned out, for some of them. They do what they want when they want. It seems so simple really when you write it, but here was our petsitter scrambling once again to get Emmy to the emergency animal hospital for X-rays and consultation. Thousands of miles away in Bora Bora, we tried to stay positive because, despite this little dog's behavior that has cost us in the past 6 months a weekend at the coast, a Jamaican bongo drum, multiple trips to the ER, and thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, we really didn't want her going anywhere. Might as well add our hearts to the list of expenditures, too, because clearly, they're not ours anymore. Eventually, we received word that she was OK; the X-rays came back negative. No blockage or obstruction. As our vet so astutely pointed out, at least she had the good sense to chew before swallowing.
So, life with the beagle continued.
I often think of that bumper sticker that says My golden retriever is smarter than your honor student. Let me tell you, we have both, and the golden retriever is easy. It's the beagle we're constantly trying to outsmart. After her first trip to the ER, one that included a two night stay for eating 165 glucosamine tablets from an unopened, childproofed bottle, we knew we had to come up with something or else- DUN-DUN-DUUUUUN- she was going in the crate. And Emmy hates the crate. So, out came the baby gate to block off the back of the house, the counters and living room were cleared of anything considered even remotely interesting to a beagle's nose (how could we know the drum would strike her fancy?), and all of the dogs' supplements, treats, and anything else edible were moved to the pantry. The only thing we have to do now before leaving the house is remember to put down a treat-stuffed toy, put up the baby gate, and shut the pantry door. But hey, I never claimed to be smarter than an honor student. That's how I came to be in a panic Thursday night when I realized I left the house and forgot to shut the door.
Already parked at the Moda Center, I had tickets to see Andre Agassi, my favorite tennis player of all time, play in a one night tournament in Portland. I started calling everyone I knew who had a key to the house, but I couldn't reach anyone. Should I go home and shut the door? Was another trip to the emergency room riding on my decision? I called my friend who was on her way to meet me, but she wasn't answering either. I willed Emmy to stay on the couch and be a good girl, but I also knew that didn't mean much if her own will kicked up and encouraged her to reach high onto the forbidden shelves of the pantry. I tried to remember what was in reach. Could she get to the glucosamine?
Finally, a friend with a key responded. She could be there in an hour, she said. Oh sweet relief! I was/am still/will always be so grateful. She texted me a little later to say my neighbor was also at the house when she got there. Together they let the dogs out, played with them a little, and perhaps most importantly, shut the pantry door before they left. Everyone was safe, and I got to watch a hero from my youth win one last tournament. Later that night, I made a "thank you video" with Emmy for my friend and neighbor. Emmy was a great performer until I asked her to say thanks. Watch the little stink's body language change when I tell her to say thank you. Such a turd!
Emmy is also the sweetest girl. You can feel it when she curls in next to you on the couch or when she stops to give you a kiss before crawling under the blankets for the night. You can see it when she walks down the street, tail wagging from side to side, confident that everyone and everything wants to say hello to her. I'm convinced her insides are made of everything that is wonderful in this world.
I guess that's the thing with beagles- you never know what they have in mind. Sure, there are some constants. You know you're going to get a sweet, funny, loving, little dog who wants nothing more than to be with you, a good friend, but what else? An entire box of treats eaten while you're out of the house? An overdose on glucosamine tablets? A bongo drum gone missing perhaps? Frantic calls to friends? A vet tech once said about Emmy, "She is like a college freshmen who has an all night bender and feels like crap for two days, but next weekend, she's out doing it all over again." I suppose this, this ying and yang, the salty with the sweet, is why people come up to Emmy all the time with open arms, huge smiles, and happy looks on their faces. They say fondly and without a hint of irony, "Oh, a beagle! I had a beagle." Pause. "Once." HA. Just makes me love my little drummer girl even more.
Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, I'll be watching you.