"And just so you know, I am a dog person but that is not a dog, that is evil with a dog face that humps my leg and is peeing on your carpet."
The Dog Sitter - Marley and Me
We knew we had a problem right from the start, from the moment G arrived home from the beagle rescue centre and let her through the back door, she was out of control. She went straight for the bin, head first, rummaging like a frantic bride to be who'd misplaced her engagement ring.
"She must be hungry?" someone said.
We would soon learn that she would always be hungry. She was a beagle. Food is her drug. Those beagles you see in the airport? They're not trained, they're just looking for their next hit.
I often speak to the beagle in a southern accent, I know its ridiculous but it's her heritage, she was born and raised in Texas. When I first saw her pretty face, I thought of her as a gentle southern belle, impeccable manners, maybe a Laura Bush or a Lady Bird Johnson - I didn't realize what we actually had was an Anna Nicole Smith.
Unlike Anna the beagle see's no need for prescription drugs, but if you were to coat them in butter, I'm sure she'd change her mind. I now only buy butter in the smallest quantities, I do this so that when the beagle breaks into the fridge (a weekly event) I can minimize the damage.
Butter and burgers are her weakness. She once dug a tunnel from our house in Houston to our neighbours for the sole purpose of locating their 4th of July barbecue leftovers. Faster than you could say "these burgers will make ya wanna slap your mamma" she'd ripped through their garbage bags and was knee deep in burger heaven.
At a dinner party last week, we set up a table for the children while we sat at a more grown up affair nearby. We timed it so the children were just finishing as we sat down with their parents. G had outdone himself and our guests were showering him in compliments when I saw a look of horror on one of our guest's face. She yelled while gesturing behind me "The dog! Oh my god - The dog is up ON the table". I turned to see the beagle, standing in the middle of table, inhaling the children's left overs. Nothing was going to stop her. The sound of the chairs scraping across the floor, the screams of "get down now", nothing slowed her down. As I grabbed her collar she gave me a look of "where's the fixins?"
There have been many times where I have questioned our beagle decision. The hundred or so times where I've found garbage strewn all over our carpet. The quick fix dinner that has been required because she's jumped up on a bench to retrieve the defrosting chicken. The multiple times when I have found her slurping through my fresh cup of coffee while I've buttered my toast. The fifteen to twenty discarded school lunch boxes that she has eaten through. The fact that we cannot have an inside garbage bin. Or the fact that while I've been typing this post, I've been interrupted by the third little traveller to be told that the beagle has done a big runny poo in the playroom. I can't tell you how much joy it gave me to clean it up while receiving a running commentary from the six or seven onlookers.
The beagle looked on in a rather disinterested manner
It's at this stage that I make myself remember John Grogan's quote from Marley and me.
A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?
In my darker moments I want to write to John Grogan and ask him how many people did a poo in his playroom.
I like to watch Marley and me, it makes me feel better about our beagle. When it comes to naughty, our beagle has nothing on Marley, I like to be reminded that it could be so much worse. I need to remember that when I come home it's the beagle that runs to my feet. That when I kiss the travellers good night it's the beagle they all want on their bed. When we all frantically leave the house for school in the morning, it's the beagle that cries at the front door as the car pulls away.
She might not be the best dog - but she's our dog.