I saw a beagle puppy running down the road the other day and I recalled the pain I bore for years after my family moved from Connecticut to Vermont and we couldn’t take my dog along.
He had been my birthday present when I turned four and his name came from my reaction when I first laid eyes on him: “Yipeee.” My family was going to be living in an apartment and new homes had been found for our gaggle of dogs, Yipee, Bashful, Bud, Mac, and Freckles and her puppies. It seemed perfectly normal to have an army of canines in those days when we lived in the country and the dogs were free to roam. There was also one cat my mother had named Hitler. She didn’t much like cats but one was a necessity in an old house. And besides, he was all white with a black nose. I don’t think the name was designed to foster a love of cats and indeed it was many years before I came to appreciate them. Too bad she hadn’t dubbed him Mickey Rooney.
But at our house the dogs were everywhere and they seemed like no problem at all. They didn’t have to be walked or even tied up; they didn’t have to have their teeth brushed or their coats groomed. Sometimes one might disappear, but then another would show up having followed someone home from school. “Mom, can we keep him?” Then everyone was sternly warned not to give the stray any food or “he’ll never go away.” That was true we found as our canine forces were replenished at our new location. I don’t think we actually paid money for any of those dogs, they just showed up.
Bashful was acquired by my father because he had been abused and needed a good home. He was a beautiful beagle but you couldn’t touch or even pet him, he was so skittish. We would leave his food on the back steps; he never wanted to come in the house and preferred to use the space in the two empty barns on our property.
Freckles was a lovely English setter who, in a fit of post partum depression, murdered all19 of our chickens one fine summer afternoon.
Mac was a husky who became a little over protective when my mother hired a woman to help with a new baby. The choice was an easy one: the woman was let go and the dog stayed.
But Yipee was mine. He slept in my bed; he shared my food; he let me dress him up in baby clothes. I can still feel his velvet ears and envision his adoring eyes.
So it was a great shock when I was told we would be moving far away and the dogs would all have new homes where they would chase butterflies and be ever so happy. And we would get new dogs, lots of them. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t just take that one little dog. He was so small and well behaved.
I watched for him for years. After all, I had seen “Lassie Come Home.” I knew he was smarter than that silly collie.
He didn’t show up, or if he did, we weren’t at home at the time and he went elsewhere. I still keep an eye out for him and worry that he might be looking for me even though he would be very old by now. I figure, in dog years, he must be 441 years old.