The Best Bad Dogs

When we became beagle “owners,” one of the first comments we heard from a knowledgeable dog lover was: “Beagles are the ‘best bad dogs.’”  If you’ve read any of up to now, you have an idea what that means. The latest escapades of Harley and Scooter occurred while we were taking a 4th of July weekend vacation to Southern California, where the beagles nearly went on a long unsupervised side trip of their own.

"We're free!"
“We’re free!”

Thanks to The Dog Lover’s Companion to California, we always stop at dog friendly places when we do a road trip with the beagles.  It has everything from which hotels and restaurants accommodate four legged companions to which dog parks are the best.  (Can’t just stop at the beach or in the country just anywhere these days.)

We went to a nice park called “The Douglas Family Preserve” in Santa Barbara, where there are acres of trails and dogs are mostly allowed off leash on all of them.  Since our dogs are BEAGLES [yes, with capital letters], we had them on the leash the whole way.  They still have a great time, but we don’t have to chase them down.

Douglas Family Preserve is on the cliffs overlooking Arroyo Burro Beach, a lovely Southern California beach that has a sign at the entrance pointing to the left to run off leash or to the right to be protected by the lifeguard station and enjoy the wider beach areas.

We walked the BEAGLES far enough from the on leash and parking lot area that we could cut them off at the pass, if necessary.  We took off their leashes, each of us keeping one of the leashes in case we had to chase someone down.

Which we did, of course, several times.  Both dogs found dead fish, including a rather large piece that may have been over 100 pounds worth.  Funny thing: none of the other dog owners seemed to need to chase their dogs off dead fish flesh.

"No cliff climbing Harley!"
“No cliff climbing Harley!”

We made it fairly far down the beach with little trouble, at least on the scale one gets used to with BEAGLES, turned around and headed back.  Pretty soon Harley decided the beach wasn’t interesting enough for him and he climbed some rocks until he got stuck.  I went over and helped him down from the about seven foot high rock ledge, we laughed and kept going.

Not three minutes later he started up again. We called after him, and he kept going along the side of the cliffs at about a 40 degree angle. Scooter started to follow.  We called some more.  They kept going.

"And off they go!"
“And off they go!”

All of a sudden, they had gotten pretty high along the cliff ledge and we couldn’t get them to come down. and we quickly got several friendly people helping us call for them, “HARLEY, SCOOTER!; HARLEY, SCOOTER!”

We were all following their progress from below as the two went farther along and up the cliff.

Fortunately, a young man was there to become the hero of this story.  His name is Kurt and he was in Santa Barbara the weekend after the fourth with his girlfriend Sasha.  Anybody know a young 20s couple like that, please pass on another round of THANK YOU SO MUCH FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS.

Watching the beagle escapade
Watching the beagle escapade (that white dot on the hill is Kurt rescuing the beagles)

He asked for the leashes and climbed the cliff that I couldn’t [Sasha said he has “monkey feet”]. After following them along the cliff path for a ways, he called the dogs and they decided he looked interesting enough to stop their trek and say hello.  They are very used to leashes, so Kurt put them on easily and lead them back to the washed out section he had climbed up and was able to bring them down.

Rescued!  Thank you Kurt!
Rescued! Thank you Kurt!

What an amazing adventure!

I have to confess, my Dad’s old saying when any of us kids threatened to run away definitely came to mind in the days after this adventure: “Don’t let the door catch you in the [behind.]”  There were thoughts of life post-BEAGLE, and where the two little darlings would end up.

THE END [for now…]

"What's all the fuss about?"
“What’s all the fuss about?”

Table Jumping Beagles

With beagles, there is always some new act or (mis)behavior we have to train out of them. More often than not, we simply end up adapting to it.

Scooter’s latest thing is jumping up on the dining room table.   She is training me to push my chair in.  Because if I leave it out, she’ll get up on the table.  And if Scooter hears me coming, she will leap off the table (I’d love to get that on film!)

Harley jumped up on the table a few times when we first adopted them, without the use of a chair!  But we’ve never caught him doing it since then.


Who gets on top of tables? Not me!

One time, Mike left various vitamins out on the table.  He had them segregated into piles by type, and intended to put them in a daily vitamin container.  But he got distracted and went off to do something else.  We both were at the other end of the house and when I came back into the dining room, I saw several somewhat chewed up multi-vitamins on the floor.  Nothing else seemed out of place to me, until Mike came and said that the fish oil pills were missing.  All seven of them!  It appeared that Scooter had eaten them.  We kept a close eye on her that day, but everything seemed normal.  Except perhaps her coat was a bit glossier…

Another time we came home to find what was left of gum packages on the dog bed.  The plastic wrap had been torn off, and a bunch of pieces of gum had apparently been eaten, but not too many.  Again, we watched both dogs closely, but especially Scooter, as she had the freshest breath!  Gum can be bad for dogs, especially if it contains the sugar substitute Xylitol (this gum did), which can cause liver failure.

But the strangest item to be taken off the table was a camera memory card, full of pictures from a recent trip to Ethiopia.  We don’t know if some salt or sugar that was on the table spilled onto the plastic case that contained the memory card, but regardless, we found a chewed up card on the floor one evening.  Luckily for Scooter, the photos had all been downloaded.

Hopefully we can close this chapter of beagle behavior, but we’re not holding our breath!  In the meantime, Harley and Scooter have trained us not to leave anything on the dining table.


Who, us, get into trouble?

Separation Anxiety

I was recently out of town for work for a week and a half.   Fortunately we have technology to keep families close.  Mike and I talked via Skype, and I got to connect with him and the pups that way while I was in Montreal.

It’s hard being gone from “my pack” for any length of time.  But in some ways it is more difficult for the one left behind to take care of Harley and Scooter.   Twice a day feedings, walks, buying dog food, scheduling times with the dog walker, etc.  Oh, and lots of time cuddling on the coach!  Harley likes to think he’s a tough dog, but he’s really a big baby.

I would get emails from Mike with photos of the beagles, and he would relate how stubborn or bad they were being, or gross or annoying.  And how they woke him up in the middle of the night barking and hunting (that’s Harley). Scooter even got up on the dining room table!  That’s a new thing with her.  Now we have to make sure the chairs are pushed in and there is no food or anything dangerous she might ingest.  So in addition to having to hang up our garbage bags far from their reach, locks on the lower kitchen cupboards, not leaving our backpacks out, we now have to remember to push in our chairs.  Beagles!

Quote from Mike, in response to one of the delicacies that Harley and Scooter like to eat   way too often – “Gross Damn Beagles!”  These type of statements usually start off with “Do you know what your dogs did today?”

Despite the complaints, I also heard all about how sweet they were, the greetings they gave him when he came home, how he stopped off to buy them some special treats.  Mike loves them even more, I suspect, because they drive him crazy!  Of course, the same thing can be said about me.  Harley and Scooter are stubborn, willful, and often disgusting dogs, but somehow that endears them to us.  Being cute and lovable doesn’t hurt either!

I’ll be on the road again soon.  I’m sure I’ll soon hear all about their misbehavior, and in the same breath, just how sweet they are!

“S” is for Stubborn!

In our opinion, beagles win the award, paws down, for most stubborn dogs. Whenever we meet other beagle parents, we almost always ask them how stubborn their hound dog is. And invariably, the answer is “very stubborn!”

Some of the best examples to convey Harley and Scooter’s stubbornness?

For starters, they won’t come when they are called unless they think they’ll get a treat.  We can be sitting on the couch, all comfy and cozy, and call them over, and sometimes they just look at us. Especially if they are on the recliner.  “Why should we move over there?  We don’t see any treats in your hands.”

Another example is taking them for walks.  They can be slow walkers due to all the sniffing they want to do.  And if there is something they really want to sniff or see, they plant their paws and throw their weight down and won’t budge.  Scooter is especially good at this.  And given that she’s heavier than Harley she can be hard to move.  Harley at least is skinny and has ADD and can be distracted easily; Scooter, not so much.  She’ll give us a look that says “Hey, I’m not moving yet, I’m sniffing here.”  We either let her sniff or have to drag her away.

These are some reasons why beagles are usually on leash.  They know when they are being called to come, but they have other things on their minds and will ignore you.  So unless treats are involved, they rarely come when called.  Priorities, right?

In the beagle world, however, “S” is also for sweet, squirrel, and sniffing. Especially sweet – Harley and Scooter are the sweetest beagles!

The Break-in

Another day, another break-in.  Fortunately canine, not human thieves.  As Mike recounted in an earlier post, the beagles have conquered many a garbage can.

We're good dogs, really!

This time, it was a kitchen cupboard.  It’s where we used to keep packages of rice, pasta, sugar and other staples.  We even put a padlock on the cabinet, but since we get into that particular cupboard fairly often, we sometimes forget to lock it.

I forgot one too many times to put the lock back on and came home on one too many occasions to find rice or uncooked spaghetti scattered all over the floor and partially eaten. (Luckily the dogs either didn’t eat enough of it or were more or less okay from it.)  After that, we removed any food items that weren’t in a can or jar–containers we assumed the dogs couldn’t open.  For Pete’s sake, sometimes we have trouble opening those jars!

On a recent weekend I temporarily put some bags of dry lentils in that cupboard, put the lock on, albeit not all the way locked. When Mike and I returned we found black-eyed peas everywhere!  Later, evidence turned up that Scooter had indeed eaten a bunch of black-eyed peas.

The incident that really got us shaking our heads was the time I thought I smelled pizza on Scooter’s muzzle.  When I made my way into the kitchen, I found Harley licking up spaghetti sauce off the floor with just a small amount of sauce left in the jar.  We’re talking a 25 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce that Scooter (we know she’s the instigator) somehow cleverly got the lid off.  It was a brand new jar that had never been opened.  A friend surmised that since I had found the unopened jar in the living room the day before, the cap must have somehow loosened or the seal inside popped.

Still, how a creature lacking opposable thumbs managed to get a lid off a jar of spaghetti sauce that I struggle with is a mystery to me. With these two beagles you just never know!

Our kitchen - locked cabinets and all

A Gift for You

Harley hard at work

We woke up in the middle of the night to Harley’s barking.  This is not such an unusual occurrence, though we wish it were.  Mike got up and went to the kitchen to shake the treat jar, which normally brings the dogs running back inside the house.  This time it only worked to get Scooter out of bed.  Mike put on his robe and shoes, grabbed a leash, and went out to get Harley.  Turns out he was digging an enormous hole in the backyard, going after who knows what.  Mike got the digging fool back in the house, I closed the dog door shut, and that was that.

The next morning after breakfast, I noticed that Harley had been outside for a quite awhile.  I looked out the window, and there he was, digging that hole to China. Several holes, actually.  I managed to get him to come back in, and had to wipe a whole lot of dirt that was caked to his paws and nose.  He calmed down, and for the next day he only spent a little time digging, with some help from Scooter.

The following evening Harley was back at it.  Again, he had been out in the yard for a long time.  I had just gone out to check on him when he came around the corner.  It looked like he might have something in his mouth, and I assumed it was a bunch of dirt, as Harley likes to bite at the dirt to speed up the digging process.  I followed him down to the bedroom, and was about to take a look at how much dirt he had impacted in his mouth, when I jumped back.  He had a creature in his mouth!  I called out to Mike that Harley had more than mud in his jaws. It was a mole, and the poor thing was dead.  Fortunately Harley easily relinquished it to Mike, who immediately disposed of it.

Boy, did Harley want to know what Mike did with his (Harley’s!) catch.  He looked all over the room for that mole.  We distracted him with treats and pets, and he eventually forgot about it, more or less.

In the morning I took a good look at the yard.  There were about 4 holes out there. Tomorrow we will fill the holes in.  How long they will stay that way is up to Harley; I have a feeling not for long…

Dr. Spiderman

Or, How Many Lives Does a Beagle Have?

This vet doesn't make house calls.

When we picked up Harley and Scooter at the Humane Society, we filled out a form they give you to make sure you are competent, loving, responsible and so on.  It was kind of a long form, with some difficult questions. (Reminded one of us of the form that Arlo Guthrie had to fill out while sitting on the Group W bench.)

One of the questions on the form had to do with how much money you expected to spend in the first year on the pet you were hoping to adopt.  Fair question.  People should know that pets cost money.  Beyond food and regular vet visits, shots, toys and stuff, there are unexpected costs.  If you adopt a dog thinking you are only paying a few bucks a week for dry dog food, you may not be ready for all that living with a pet involves.

Not being wealthy people, and having just had an older beagle (the famous Gus) that was

Gus LOVED the snow!

sort of easy going–while on the other hand knowing that beagles are a handful–we answered somewhat liberally (we thought) with something like $1500 for the first year.

You can see where this is going.

Suzanne and I very quickly learned both the number and website for ASPCA poison control. (They are available 24 hours a day.)

(888) 426-4435

We learned how to mix peroxide and water, and how much, and how to get the dogs to consume it (dogs will eat almost anything to get to peanut butter.)  We even got the opportunity to weigh about a pound of regurgitated grapes to see how many might be still in their system after applying the above remedy.

After several expensive-to-VERYexpensive trips to the emergency vet, Suzanne and I noticed that one of the vets at the emergency clinic (the beagles, of course, seemed to have a way of getting in more trouble on the weekend) looks a little like Tobey McGuire.  Well, if you can’t have a little gallows humor when you’re looking at not being able to afford that vacation you so badly need in order to take care of the health of a couple of the sweetest creatures on the planet, then you might as well just start crying right now, Mr. or Ms. beagle “owner.”

So, of course, I started teasing Suzanne and the beagles that the dogs were getting sick just so Suzanne (or they) could spend a bit more time with the handsome veterinarian. Now, when they get into trouble we’ll often threaten them with “a visit to Dr. Spiderman.”  It doesn’t seem to make any difference to the dogs, they really didn’t want to go to any vet, any time, but it has helped lightened up Suzanne and my outlook a bit.

And, no, ladies and gentlemen, we are not going to tell you which emergency veterinary hospital Tobey McGuire works for.  You’ll have to figure that out yourselves.  We hope we aren’t back there any time soon to get his autograph, either!

Losing the Battle of the Garbage Can

Not Harley and Scooter...but it might as well be.

Being dogs, Harley and Scooter will eat almost anything.  And like other dogs, they need to be “trained” to stay out of the garbage can. Well, as you’ll find out from the other posts on “Damn Beagles,” these two are much better at training than being trained.  Oh, and they’re smart and resourceful–and apparently determined.

Garbage Can Round X

Might as well get right to the point: a normal garbage can is not enough to keep Harley and Scooter away from the garbage.  That battle was lost quickly.  And while we may concede that someone could train these two “trailer park beagles” to stay out of a normal garbage can, we soon realized that this someone wasn’t Suzanne and me.

So, after putting the small garbage can up on the washer or dryer for a while, we went shopping for a beagle-proof can.  I don’t remember now whether we bought more than one, but we looked at more than a dozen, in several stores.  It took me a while, but I talked Suzanne into something that looked like it would fit right in at an outdoor park, or in a warehouse or industrial setting.  Yes, we got an industrial strength garbage can for our kitchen (or utility room, depending on where it proved successful, and somewhat on the aesthetics.)

Must have taken a day or so for Scooter to figure out how to push the spring loaded lid back.  Even less time was needed to get the lid off; a little longer to pull the plastic bags around the tightly placed lid; no time at all to knock the garbage can over…etc., etc.

I’ll digress slightly to say that, yes, we believe, with Harry Belafonte, that “the woman is smarter,” and blame Scooter for the more clever, determined misadventures that these two canines get into.  (This is based on experience, not prejudice, by the way.)

If you come to our house, you can still see where Mike strapped the garbage can to the wall so that Harley and Scooter couldn’t knock it over.  He’ll gladly, if somewhat abashedly, show you the velcro he bought to help keep the spring loaded lid from being pushed back.  Most obvious is where the small grocery bag hangs from the out-of-reach-of-beagles cupboard handle.

What you can’t see is the perfectly good, industrial-strength garbage can.  Mike finally conceded defeat and took that to the clean-up day with other useless household items.  He sincerely hopes that someone will rescue it for use in a warehouse somewhere where there are no beagles.

Arooo! Arooo! Welcome

Welcome to Damn Beagles: The Adventures of Harley & Scooter

This is a blog about two spoiled, rambunctious and always-getting-into-trouble beagles, Harley and Scooter.  They are brother and sister.  They love to eat, walk, cuddle, and sleep…and also get into things they shouldn’t.  Stay tuned for some of their past adventures, some of which will leave you shaking your head!  All we can say is that these two are lucky they are cute!