Feb 232015
Not your average glamour shot.  (Stacy Keach with Miss P, from the Westminster site.)

Not your average glamour shot. (Stacy Keach with Miss P, from the Westminster site.)

So, hey!  Miss P, Beagle Beautiful, won the Westminster last week!

Beagle Beagle Beagle!

She is a lovely bitch, with personality and elegance and the most beautiful expression.  And Beagle owners everywhere are bouncing around in the Land of SQUEEE!  Including me!


There’s a thing that happens when a breed is spotlighted this way, especially a breed that often invokes fond childhood memories.  Or has Snoopy as an unofficial spokesperson.  Or has that face and those eyes.

People want them.

Which is actually very cool.  I certainly want them.  I think Beagles are a wonderful breed, or I wouldn’t currently have three of them while already looking forward to the next.  (Many of us are in the “can’t have just one” category.)

Miss P at the Ronald McDonald house, from the Westminster site.  I mean...AWWWW...

Miss P at the Ronald McDonald house, from the Westminster site. I mean…AWWWW…

But there’s a concern, too.  And that’s that people will base their desire for a Beagle on unrealistic expectations–the trained show dog they see on TV vs. a puppy or adult-adopted dog.

“We expect a family dog” is entirely realistic if you mean “a pack dog who needs family time and is generally good with kids.”

“We expect a dog who slides into the family gestalt as an autotrained pet without purpose-bred behaviors” isn’t going to end happy.

So the message goes out from those who know:  Maybe you want a Beagle, maybe you don’t.  Do your research.  Understand the breed.  Don’t fall in love with Miss P’s amazing expression and think that’s what you’re getting out of the box.

But, I say.

Big freaking BUT.

Sometimes the message goes awry.

This past week I’ve seen a veritable stream of Beagle-bashing commentary.  Such commenters extoll the breed as universally stupid.  Problematic.  Harder to train than a chair.*

*Yes, really.  I’m not offering that trainer any more attention by linking, though.

Could be that those folks are actually trying to do the Beagle world a favor.  You know, beware the Beagle Puppy Rush* and all that.

*Any breed puppy rush: the resulting mess of poorly bred and discarded dogs in the wake of a surge of popularity due to a movie or public event involving that breed.

Even if so, I’m not buying it.

It’s not that I don’t share the concerns about a Beagle Puppy Rush.  It saddens me to think of any Beagle with a family who considers their dog stupid instead of delighting in the nature of the breed’s intelligence.

It really saddens me to see spindly-legged little creatures with Precious Moments features for sale on one of those Internet sites.

But I guess what I’m saying is this:

I feel it’s perfectly possible to celebrate and admire a breed for what it is, and still make it clear that it’s not the best breed for everyone.  To urge people to do their research without vilifying dogs along the way.

There’s a big difference between “This breed is too [bashing words]” and “This breed’s [temperament/physical nature] isn’t something that works with my life.”  There’s no need bash the breed along the way.  There’s no need to bash anything just because it’s not our preference.

So, Beagles.  (In my experience, that is.)

Beagles were bred to chase rabbits, and that takes independence, persistence, a nose, and vision tuned to movement.  Along the way they acquired a sense of play and curiosity to rival any cat.  They’re pack dogs, so they mostly get along.

As part of that independence, persistence, and curiosity, most of them will constantly test their boundaries.  Some of them will do this in a passive aggressive way that makes you feel like a big poothead for enforcing the rules*, but best you not fall for that.

*Of course, if you enforce rules with no attempt to train them first, then you are indeed a big poothead, and they know that, too.

As far as a Beagle is concerned, every option is a possibility until you convince them that it’s not.  And then sometimes until you move the chairs out of the kitchen so it just really isn’t.

The bottom line is that the merry little hound makes a wonderful partner.  But those who want an easy companion/autopilot dog probably shouldn’t get one.

In the meantime, “A chair is easier to train than a Beagle” is just rude.  Whereas “A Beagle has a more persistent intelligence than you may want to deal with” is a lovely truth that will aim a prospective owner in a better direction for that particular family.

(And to the woman who never discerned half a Beagle lifetime of clandestine pottying behind the couch, or who walked a slipped collar for several blocks without realizing she was without her dog?  Really?  You’re blaming the dog for those things?)­­

Know what you want, get what suits you, and don’t breed-bash along the way.  So there.


Feb 172015
Even I have to admit this is a pretty good Face of Innocence.

Even I have to admit this is a pretty good Face of Innocence.

Ohh, it seems so easy to see wherein lies the FAIL.

The dog is trained.  The dog is proofed. The dog is in a familiar environment.

So he should know better.

And thus Dart Beagle recently went to obedience drill and wouldn’t. 

He flopped around when asked to sit for the stay exercises.  He got up.  He got up.  He got up. Continue reading »

Jan 272015

antho.ad.08.connerySometimes, it takes years to unravel a training issue.  Sometimes…a decade!

I’ve been running ConneryBeagle in agility for…well, nearly that decade (although he obviously wasn’t competing in those first training months).  He’s almost eleven, winding down his career, and basically has the skills he’s going to have.  I keep him tuned up, but am not introducing new agility things.

That doesn’t mean that Connery doesn’t introduce new challenges to me. Continue reading »

Jan 202015

by Doranna

“Oh, I know!” I told myself, all full of excited optimism, “I’ll blog about Baby Tristan’s learning process!”

tb.profile.297As usual, I didn’t take into account the fact that I’d be so caught up in the process itself that the blogging would take second place.  Or third.  Or fourth, because the other boys are still active, too!  And oh wait, that dastardly Real Life.  Oops!  Well, here I am.

Tristan’s been with us three weeks now, making him eleven weeks old (on the 18th, when I’m first typing this).  His nose has finished unfolding, taking him from baby-face to youngster-face.  His hind end has more leg than he knows what to do with, his feet are huge, and his shoulders are trying to decide just how they’ll sit on his body.  He’s still got baby belly, though! Continue reading »

Jan 122015

By Doranna

tris.howl.0052Sometimes choice isn’t choice no matter how hard you try.  Sometimes, it’s all you can do to get close.

Sometimes it’s all about the brick wall.

Last time out with the blog, I’d just spent weeks researching and making choices about and preparing for the best way to vaccinate young Tristan Beagle.  Then I called my vet’s office and had a conversation with the front desk.  This was weeks prior to the actual appointment, so there’d be time to sort out any issues.

In this conversation I defined the vaccine I was looking for (ad naseum), made the desk staff person repeat it back to me (ad nauseum).  Then I had her check with the office manager as to whether the vaccine was on hand or would need to be acquired specially, although they’d had it on hand a couple years earlier when Connery got it for [reasons].  Not making any assumptions, me! Continue reading »

Jan 052015

by Doranna

I have an uneasy relationship with vaccines.

On the one hand, I have far too much experience with vaccine-damaged animals.

Far. Too. Freakin’. MUCH.

On the other hand, I strongly believe in the protection that vaccines provide.  And I strongly believe that eschewing them as a matter of fact will create a less safe world.

All the same, I feel that we need to be smart about these choices for our individual circumstances, and not pressured one way or the other by either fear-mongering or authoritative nonsense.

I especially feel this way as I prepare to take nine-week-old Tristan Beagle for his first shots! Continue reading »

Dec 282014

by Doranna

Waiting is the hardest part.

Choosing is the second hardest part.

But I’ve been really, really lucky.  I’ve had that opportunity to choose.  That’s a whole ‘nother blog and one I’ve got half written, but for now, just trust me.  It is an honor and a rarity to have a choice—never mind first choice—in a show-bred litter.

Connery's Choosing Day

Connery’s Choosing Day

Continue reading »

Dec 232014
Connery's first baby picture--about three weeks old!

Connery’s first baby picture–about three weeks old!

Puppy breath.  Slightly sour, slightly tangy, a hint of skunky.  No kind of smell that a person would normally crave.

At least, not until there’s a puppy in your hands and you suddenly realize how much you’ve missed that very thing.

I’ve always timed my puppies carefully, according to the age and need of the current pack.  I stay aware of who’s breeding the sort of dog I like, occasionally reaching out here and there with the intent to wait if there’s something perfect to wait for.  (I waited two years for Connery, for instance…)

I most recently started serious puppy-planning about five years ago, but things got…complicated.  And a little bit Fate-ish. Continue reading »

Dec 032014

by Doranna

_DSC3932-(ZF-4919-11231-2-001).SM“The emperor has no clothes” has never been a popular (or easy phrase) to utter.  Not even in agility.

So we’re talking about continuing education (training) in this blog event, but first…let’s talk about those courses.  I promise this leads straight to training!

Anyway, you know the courses I mean.  During walk-through half the handlers are grimly unhappy and the other half are quite blithely and vocally certain that those who are unhappy would in fact be happy if they had only trained properly (or completely, or with the right system, or…). Continue reading »