Our oldest granddaughter named the beagle puppy Mickey because on his front right leg was a good resemblance of the well-known mouse. Each time my wife Mary Ann would visit our granddaughter and her family, he would climb the chain link fence and run to greet her. Rolling over on the front lawn, he would beg her for a belly rub. Before too many of these visits, she put him in her car and brought him home. The late afternoon call was simple, “I’ve got Mickey.” And we had him, and he had us, until this morning at 9:30 when the induced drug stopped his strong heart. He could not use his hind legs, he was in much pain and his inability to run and smell and bark left only that option.
Mickey shared life with us, our hound Nolan, his litter mate Callie, and six cats. Like the other animals, he was only a pet, but anyone who has ever shared days with a dog or cat knows that they are more than they seem. Mickey was all dog: If he could not eat it, bark at it, or pee on it, it had no purpose for him. He would sit on the kitchen floor when Mary Ann cooked, knowing that some morsel would fall for him to claim. If a stranger came into the house or yard, his hackles would rise as he barked in his best and deepest beagle voice—all the while backing up. And if neither of these actions worked, he would just mark it and go on his way.
He and the hound were buddies who shared the sofa at night as we watched television. They took most of it, but left Mary Ann enough room to sit at one end. Often, if he and Nolan were on their day bed together, he would give the hound’s ears a thorough cleaning, However, if food was involved, we had to be careful. More than once, Mickey would go after the larger hound, disregarding the size difference for the food.
As I type these words, his sister Callie sleeps on the library chair in which he liked to nap. The January sun warms the spot near the roses and bee balm where he liked to lie. Carolina chickadees, brown headed nuthatches, cardinals, and more birds flock to the filled feeders. The world goes on its business, and I guess that is as it should be. In fact, I know that is true.
But for Mary Ann and me, we pause for a bit this morning to honor the little male beagle who blessed our lives.