At first he was just another rabbit beagle. He hunted with our other beagle on warm winter afternoons and we followed him across ridges and brushy fields. He had a great nose, but no perseverance so he might be the first to find a trail, but he lost interest in it long before the other dogs.Then he became the chicken-chasing dog and had to spend a lot of time on the chain-of-shame, tied to his dog house. He might not have been able to maintain an interest in rabbits, but chickens were easy to catch. He developed a taste for bloody raw meals coated in feathers, sometimes killing three chickens a week, and we discussed giving him away. As a last resort, Justin suggested I try using a shock collar, so the following Saturday, I cinched it onto the dog’s neck and adjusted the charge to high. I spent the afternoon like a super spy, hiding behind outbuildings and watching the chicken-chaser ease his way around the barnyard. He was a practiced assassin. First, he walked into the group of hens, wagging his tail , then he would lie down, head between his paws. Hens are naturally curious and have brains the size of a pea, so eventually one would peck her way over to check him out. When she came close, he sprang up. For two or three hours, the chickens and dog played tag, but he couldn’t catch one. I never pressed the button, because I had this feeling that the dog needed to actually have a chicken in his mouth when he felt pain. I wanted him to believe it came directly from the chicken.
Then, he snuck around the back of the hen house. I was sitting behind a tree and couldn’t see him, but I heard the unmistakable sound of a chicken in distress. I pressed the button and held it down for three seconds. The beagle yelped five or six times and then I saw him tearing, tail between his legs, around the henhouse. He stopped about fifty yards out and looked back. I could read his thoughts on his face. “Holy Crap! Chickens hurt!”
That was the end of his chicken-chasing days. He became my faithful companion. When I lost Gus, I thought I could never love another dog. I really didn’t want to risk it. But, Luke has a goofy grin and an ear that flips inside out when he runs. He yips and sings in a high falsetto whenever he sees me coming. He catches crackers and popcorn in mid-air, sits when asked and will lie down and roll over to have his belly rubbed. He has pogo stick legs, jumping as high as my shoulders every night as I walk out to feed him. He’s never met a stranger: dog, cat or human. Luke loves life and I love him.
It’s funny how when one dog leaves our lives, another can come along and bring us joy again. I loved Ruff and when he died, Gus became my dearest dog friend. Then Gus disappeared and I grieved for so long, refusing to let Luke charm his way into my heart. But dogs are meant for humans and we are meant for dogs. Luke is now my constant companion. Loyal, happy, goofy, and grand. I am thankful he ignored my disinterest and reminded me of the joy of a doggy friend.