Losing the Standard Beagle

I have felt a little awkward lately when people ask me why we named our company Standard Beagle. I feel like – how do I say this?

Andy and I named Standard Beagle after our Treeing Walker Coonhound. She looked like a giant beagle, and it became kind of an inside joke when people would ask if she was a beagle. “Oh, she’s a standard beagle,” we would answer. When rebranding our company, it seemed like the perfect name. It was unique to us, and it was a quirky story, much like our company.

But right after New Year’s, we lost her.

Bennie-2013-06-15Bennie had been unwell for a long time. She had liver issues, a heart murmur, probably Cushing’s Disease, and in the past year developed a carcinoma on her leg. The tumor was embedded in the muscle and the vet gave us two options (other than go to an oncologist) — remove her leg, or leave it alone. Because of the risk of surgery and her age, we elected to leave it alone. She lived a long time after that. We never wanted her to live in pain, and we watched her closely. It wasn’t until her last few days when she declined rapidly and was in severe pain. We had to make a very hard decision.

Instead of recounting Bennie’s last few years, I want to remember Bennie’s moments. There were many.

She was an awesome dog, especially in her youth. We adopted her in 2002, not long after adopting our other dog. She had lived on the street for a while, and actually ended up at the shelter because she had gotten in a street fight with other dogs. They had to sew her back up and put her on an IV to bring her back to health. She had just been released for adoption when we spotted her and picked her up.

And that’s when we found out just how insane she was.

My top 5 Bennie moments

5. The time she cornered a raccoon in the compost

Coonhounds have a very distinct bark — and Bennie was no different. She bugled. She had a different bugle for everything — hunger, play, danger, excitement, being a jerk. And she was VERY LOUD. One time our elderly neighbor asked us if we had a seal in her backyard. She sounded a lot like one.

I was always worried about her waking the neighbors. And one morning when she was out, I heard her barking like crazy. She didn’t respond to my calls, and I trekked out in my PJs across the yard. I found her barking at a raccoon that was corned in the compost. Unfortunately the raccoon couldn’t escape because our other dog was caught on the bin and was blocking its escape.

After pulling Bennie inside, Andy was finally able to free the other dog without getting bit by the raccoon, and everyone was happy. None of my neighbors complained. I think they must have been used to her by then.

4. The time she went for an adventure in the middle of the highway

Soon after adopting Bennie, we took her with us to visit my parents, who lived in Missouri. They lived right off of a pretty busy rural highway. They had a fenced yard, but we didn’t know that Bennie was going to find a weakness in the fence and go out under it. She was spotted trotting down the middle of the highway, having a grand time. Fortunately, she picked a time when giant 18-wheelers were not going 70mph down it.

3. The time she stirred up a yellow jacket nest

Andy and I hiked a lot early in our marriage, and one hiking trip had a bit of excitement.

We were hiking on of the trails at Big South Fork in Tennessee. Bennie and I were leading on the trail, when we came across a fallen tree. Bennie was not exactly a delicate dog. She barreled under the log while I jumped over it. We continued down the trail when Andy screamed, “Cindy! Run!”

We ran and ran. Turns out Bennie stirred up a yellow jacket nest, and in the ensuing swarm, both Andy and the other dog, Goose, had been stung. Goose’s snout swelled up, and she had a tough time continuing the hike. We were worried we would lose her, but fortunately she had recovered a little by the time we made it back to the car.

2. The time she tried to kill herself

As Bennie grew older, she started getting into everything. She got into trash cans, and it got to the point where she knew how to open them. We figured out how to fortify them, but we didn’t think she would tear into bottles on the kitchen counter.

We had several pet supplement bottles as well as a bottle of dog Tylenol for the other dog. We came home from dinner one night and found Bennie had gotten into all of it. There were the remains of bottles and supplements everywhere — including the Tylenol. By our estimation, she consumed half of the bottle — enough to overdose.

After a weekend at the emergency vet and another 4 days on IV fluids at the vet’s office, we were several thousand dollars poorer, but at least Bennie was alive.

We started crating Bennie when we left the house.

1. The time she brought a live opossum in the house

Cindy-and-BennieMy favorite story happened soon after we adopted Bennie. We were living in Nashville at the time, and one night, I let Bennie in the back door when I noticed something in her mouth.

“Andy, what does Bennie have in her mouth?”

“Bennie, drop it!”

Bennie dropped it, and suddenly it went scuttling under a freestanding wire rack in the kitchen. It was a baby opossum.

Andy and I had a heck of a time trying to catch it and get it out of the kitchen — the dang thing played possum on us! We finally tossed it out. Bennie tried to bring it in a couple of nights later, but we caught her before she could bring it inside. That poor opossum had been through the ringer.

I miss Bennie a lot. As loud as she was, she was a hoot. And she was gentle and fun to walk. I loved my standard beagle.

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