In spite of our recent pet trials, it looks like it's time for the Newman's to get a new dog. Over the holidays we visited several shelters, and even put our name on some lists to adopt some of the dogs we met, but no dice. Everything we had looked at, in terms of animal adoption, fell through.
I'm a big believer in animal adoption. There are so many good animals out there, and already-trained adult animals, that would be so good in a home, and just can't be with their former owners for some reason.
The puppy mills don't do us any favors either. They keep breeding, and in-breeding, dogs to make various pure-bred strains available. In many cases the buyers abandon them for one reason or another, and so there are still way too many dogs out there. Many pure-bred dog owners fail to get their dogs "fixed" in the hopes of breeding them later, only to have them get out and create a litter of mixed breed dogs with some neighbor's dog, exacerbating the problem. Most of these would-be breeders really don't have the ability, or mindset, to pull of a good breeding program, but that doesn't stop them from dreaming about it.
Don't get me wrong. I've personally always wanted a beagle. I like their temperament. They're a great balance between "independent curious confidence" and social adeptness. They're normally great with kids, too. As a father of four that's a big deal for me. I'm not willing to go to a dog breeder and pay hundreds of dollars just to get a pure-bred beagle, though. I'd just as soon hit the shelters and adopt a dog from there.
Many people look down on mixed breeds, for some reason. They don't think they're as "good" or something. They think they might have some indefinable problem because they're a mix. Interestingly enough, the opposite is true. Pure-bred dogs can be in-bred a lot, and can suffer from all kinds of well documented medical issues, including heart problems, digestive disorders, and retardation. Mixed breeds are more genetically sound, and tend to be healthier and live longer because of it.
Even the beagle isn't free of these problems. One of the big problems beagles face is a form dwarfism that results in bowed legs, and heart problems. I'm willing to deal with that, but the chances of me getting a pure-bred beagle through a shelter are pretty slim, anyway.
Or so I thought.
I was checking the web, on a whim, and found a beagle rescue site. There was an adult beagle up for adoption through a pet rescue service about 70 miles from my house. I called them. I sent them emails. Yes, the dog was good with kids. Yes, he was still up for adoption. Wanting to verify the "good with kids" thing, we set up an appointment and my family and I went out to meet the dog.
The kennel they rented space from was a bit hard to find but, eventually we made it and made it on time. We got to meet and play with "Bugsy" in a small fenced in area. Being a beagle, and finding all kinds of new smells in this yard, he flittered between us and following his nose. He didn't respond to his name, but the woman at the kennel told me they weren't sure that was his name. The rescues probably gave it to him when he came in. He would respond to "dog" and "boy," though. Even though his nose took him all over, he'd come running back as soon as we yelled "Come here, boy!"
He passed all the "kid safe" tests, as well. He didn't protest when we pulled on his ears or tail, manhandling him a bit.
He did protest a bit when we tried to leave, though. He's definitely a beagle. Their distinctive baying howl can't be mistaken for anything else. On a whim, I decided to try an experiment. I turned around and used my command voice. "Quiet," I said, and he shut up. I reward him with a, "What a good dog!" and turned around. After taking a few steps he called after us again. "Quiet," I turned and repeated. Again he followed my command, sitting down and closing his mouth. "What a good dog!"
I think he will be a good dog for us. He needed to be "fixed" before we could take him home, but I got the call this morning. He's ready. We can pick him up today. I really think this will be a good fit for my family.
Now he just needs a new name.