Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good night, Sweet Dog.

When Arlo first showed up on Memorial Day Weekend in 1996, we weren't sure that he really was a beagle. He had the long droopy ears and lovely kohl-lined brown eyes of a beagle, and he was black, tan, and white. But he was also short of leg, long of body, with a pointed "witch's hat" of a nose. He was a great scent hound. He spent many hours happily tracking rabbits and squirrels in the back yard, wagging his white-tipped tail and broadcasting the news far and wide. Once, when we were out on a walk, a woman who lived two blocks away remarked, "This must be the dog I hear baying all the time."

The neighbor who found this 6-month-old stray asked us to keep him while he was away on business. He planned to take him to the pound when he got home. The first night, not knowing whether the puppy was housebroken or not, we made him a bed in the garage. Soon we heard much scrabbling and scratching. The determined little beagle was squirming his way into the house through the cat door to take his place in our hearts.

Phil always said that Arlo "wore his heart on his sleeve." When we returned home from work, he would greet us with joyful howls. He loved nothing more than snoozing on the couch beside anyone who was watching TV, but especially Phil. He slept in bed with us, absolutely the first and last dog to enjoy that privilege. His "whirling and twirling" was very annoying. He would plunk himself down in the middle of my side of the bed--never Phil's--and try to weasel his way onto my pillow.

As a young dog, he loved to run like the wind. We used to take him and Violet, our daughter's shepherd mix, to an empty field, where they would race wildly round and round in circles until they were exhausted.

He loved to follow his nose. One hot and humid day in late August, he slipped his collar while we were on a walk and disappeared into a tangle of vines, brambles, and briars. Phil called him, but Arlo ignored him. So Phil waded into the thicket and emerged later, all scratched up, lugging a headstrong, unrepentent beagle. While vacationing in Door County, Wisconsin, we once let him off the leash while we loaded the car, thinking that the rocky, overgrown terrain around my sister's vacation home would confine him. Silly us. Pretty soon six adults and three kids were looking high and low for the little escape artist. Another time, he barreled down a path in the woods. We heard a yelp. He returned with a muzzle full of porcupine quills. Fortunately, my brother-in-law-the-doctor, deftly pulled them out.

He was dominant. When Phil took him to obedience class, Arlo tried to walk out front on his hind legs as if to show who was really in charge. We are not sure what he learned in obedience class, if anything. Some folks will tell you that beagles are stupid, but we always felt that he was weighing the pros and cons of obeying an order.

He had a dark side. As Phil observed, Arlo had "eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil." He was insanely jealous and possessive of his food dish, even though, unlike typical beagles, he was no glutton. It was the principle of the thing. Soon after moving in, he attacked poor Joey, our 16-year-old beagle mix, laying claim to the old dog's dish. He got a severe scolding. In Door County, he rudely challenged Cassie, the resident golden retriever, over her own dish. He got scolded for that, too. He even snapped a few times at our daughter's pit-bull mix when Ramsey ventured too close to the dish, tripping a switch in the hapless pit-bull's brain. He got off relatively easy, and didn't even need stitches. Yet, when food was not an issue, he was best friends with all these dogs. He got along with the cats, too.

He had a mind of his own. One evening, in Door County, after a week of picnics on the beach, boatrides, and hikes, we were all unwinding in the living room, watching a movie. Cassie and Arlo were dozing on the rug. Arlo suddenly got up and marched resolutely up the stairs to bed, alone, The week of fun had worn him out. The kids laughed and called out, "Good night, Arlo."

Good night, sweet dog. We will never forget you.


Tory said...

Oh, I'm so sorry, Forsythia. It's so hard on your heart when you lose an animal you've loved for years. That's the only downfall of loving your pets like crazy.
When my 14 year old cocker spaniel had to be put down, I think I cried for 3 days solid. I really grieved over her and still miss her sweet face when I think of it. Some people didn't understand it since she was only a dog, but I felt like I lost my best friend.
Rest In Peace, Arlo

Holly said...

So sorry. I know animals become part of the family. He seemed like a nice dog.

Treasia said...

I am sorry to hear this Forsythia. It's amazing how our little pets become such close family members. Arlo is in heaven now, smelling all new smells, chasing critters around and having the time of his life.

Juanuchis said...

Arlo sounds like he was SUCH a sweet dog! He sounds a lot like our basset hound. May he forever romp in the sunshine.

And -- "Arlo" is one name I've been reserving for the right dog for many years. :)

CJM-R said...

Sorry to hear about Arlo. It is so hard to lose a beloved pet. Dogs are so loyal and love unconditionally.

Thank you for sharing about him.

Take care.

happypitbull said...

I'm sorry to hear about Arlo. It's so hard to lose a family member. Seems like they've always been there and always will be... and then they're not, and it hurts. Having just lost my own beloved dog, my thoughts are with you.