by Remington Beagle
as told to Valerie Winans: Dog’s Best Friend
Member of Author Masterminds
My first Christmas was the best Christmas I ever had because I found my forever home with my humans Dave and Val. When Dave picked me up and held me on his lap, I knew I was safe. I fell in love with him right at that moment, and I’m pretty sure the feeling was immediately mutual.
People kept asking Dave what my name would be. What’s a name I wondered? Dave pointed to the logo on my portable kennel and said, “His name is right here on his kennel – his name is Remington.” As time went on, I learned that when someone said Remington, they were talking to me. I learned lots of human words quickly; things like cookie, supper, and leash.
Before coming to live with Dave and Val, I lived in a giant outdoor kennel with my dog mother and other beagles. My mother always tried to protect me because I was, as she kept telling me, not aggressive enough. We were all fed at the same time, and the bigger dogs would push me away from the food. It got so bad that the man with the food would put me in an area away from the other dogs to ensure I would get enough to eat. The other thing I could not get used to was loud noises. I wanted to get as far away from any loud noise as I could. My mother would find me at the back of the doghouse shivering with fear. She tried to assure me that everything was ok by nuzzling me with her nose and licking my face, but nothing she did seemed to help. The man took me to a big field with other dogs for what he called training, but I was back to where we started and cowering under the truck at the first bang. I heard him say, “I don’t think this guy will ever be a hunter; we need to find him a home as a family pet. I think that’s where he will be his best.”
My life with Dave and Val was much different from the kennel with my mother dog and other dog relations. There were no other dogs at Dave and Val’s house. I was all alone. The first night was especially scary. Dave put me in my cage and shut the door. I was so young and did not know much human language at that time. I admit I cried myself to sleep that night.
Although I no longer had other dogs as companions, Dave and or Val were always with me. I naturally gravitated to their pack. I didn’t have to compete with other dogs for food, and there were no loud noises to scare me. I loved this existence and constantly looked for ways to please. Val tied a ribbon to a bell and hung it on the back door. She would take me to the door, lift my paw for me, strike the bell, give me a treat, and then we went outside. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I would just ring the bell if I wanted to go outside. Val thought I was a genius. Oh, these humans are so transparently easy to figure out.
My favorite part of any day was playtime in the front yard. Dave or Val would throw a ball for me, or maybe a Frisbee. We were out for playtime one day when another dog appeared at the end of our driveway. This was the biggest dog I had ever seen. He was huge, and black, and very imposing. I growled at him a little, and it must have scared him because he immediately started wagging his short little stub of a tail and gave me body language that meant he wanted to be a friend. I wasn’t too sure about it – he was three times my size. He bowed down with his butt in the air; he gave me a friendly bark and tried to sniff my private parts. I could not resist his savoir-faire. Soon we were racing around our yard, sometimes I was in the lead, and sometimes Rudy the Rottweiler took the lead. What an amazingly good time we had. The next day I watched out our front window to see if Rudy and his human mom would walk by. Sure enough, there they were! I put up such a fuss Val let me out and it was showtime! I had a new best friend.
Reminiscing about those early days warms the cockles of my heart. I realize that providence brought me to some humans who love me beyond measure. Many dogs never find the kind of home and love I have, and so every day, since that first day, has been Christmas for me.
The Christmas Beagle was first published with Readers and Writers Book Club: https://readersandwritersbookclub.com.