The Beagle

Before the beagle, when we were beagleless, we were of the firm belief that it was irresponsible to have a dog and travel. We were never going to do that. Every time we spotted a dog that potentially could have become ours, we’d have the same conversation again and one of us would convince the other it would be something to look forward to when we eventually moved home.

We were in between countries when our firm decision started to get a bit wobbly. Our eldest little traveler had become ridiculously terrified of dogs. The reason I say ridiculously is she was not only scared of small fluffy white dogs but she’d started to include cats, birds, guinea pigs and basically anything of the “pet” variety to her list. It started to get somewhat comical when her fear was then transfered on to the other little travelers. I guess they figured with her age and experience, she knew something they didn’t. On a trip back to Australia,  every visit made to friends and family resulted in a slightly awkward “do you mind putting your dog away” conversation and usually finished with an “oops the dog got out” apocalyptic style event with 4 little travelers running towards me screaming and crying, using my body as a way to get to higher ground.

When we arrived in Houston the decision was made that the only way we were going to get the little travelers over their fears was to get a dog, our own dog. It made sense that an Australian family who has spent a large chunk of their time in airports would feel a certain affection towards a beagle. The decision was made, it had to be a rescue dog, it had to be a beagle, enter the Houston Beagle Rescue Association.

After a rigorous screening and interview process (we’re talking 2 house visits and 3 phone interviews) I became determined that the Houston Beagle people were going to give me one of their unwanted beagles. I was like any hopeful adopting parent and was willing to do ANYTHING. We improved fencing and made changes to the backyard, we showed where the beagle could be walked and which vet we would visit, we were determined that the beagle association would see us as fit and responsible parents. They provided an alarmingly long list of the terrible habits of beagles, but like some delusional teenage girl in love with the school football star, I just knew my beagle would be different. I’d change him, he’d be different with me. There were many discussions about which discarded beagle would be the best fit for our family and we ran through what was on offer, there was the escape artist beagle, the neurotic beagle, the incontinent beagle, in my giddy state, they all sounded fabulous.

Eventually they suggested Roxie. Roxie was born in Austin, Texas and we’ll never really know the real story of what happened. We were told Roxie’s parents became too busy with a self run business and a new baby, they decided something had to go. I guess it was easier to find a new home for Roxie than the baby. In hindsight they must have had a really bad baby.

Roxie was 5 years old when they made the drive to Houston and dropped her with the rescue people. I imagine the above story was easier for them to live with. Easier than “Roxie steals our food as it’s making it’s way to our mouths, she eats butter out of the fridge, sheds her hair like a yetti, barks incessantly at anything walking by the house and will wee on our bed if we leave her alone for a length of time she deems unacceptable”. The rescue people tell me that when Roxie’s previous owners deposited her at the front door there were no teary goodbyes, it was more a rushed keep the car running, here she is kind of moment.

When G walked in to the house with Roxie we all immediately fell in love. The eldest little traveler chose to fall in love while standing on the dining room table, within hours though she was able to touch Roxie and even though she was a little jumpy, by the end of the day Roxie was sleeping on her bed. Something we vowed she would never be allowed to do.

In my mind Roxie speaks with a Southern accent. She’s a cross between Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukarkis and Sally Fields.  She smokes long cigarettes in elegant holders, wear false eyelashes and has a part time job singing in a bar. When she forgets who she is and has one to many mint duleps she gets very very naughty.

All beagles have issues. Roxie’s issue is food. There will never be enough of it. The vet tells me that Roxie doesn’t have that switch in her head that other dogs have. The one that says after eating the completely frozen chicken off the kitchen bench and dragging the garbage bin in to the lounge room to empty its contents over the brand new carpet, I probably didn’t need to then eat all of the little travelers school snacks out of the pantry.

Roxie does tricks. She can find a full packet of (hand carried from Australia) Freddo Frogs and unwrap them, eat them and then hide the wrappers under the little travelers pillows. She can open a fridge door.  She once dug a WW1 style trench to a neighbours backyard solely because there was a garbage bag of hamburger scraps on the other side. On a good week Roxie will only eat one full container of butter, on our bad weeks she’s made it up to 4.

She’s learnt how to sit underneath the table and quietly accept the bits that no one else will eat, she’s the perfect dinner companion for the 8 year old that wont eat their broccoli. On our last trip to Australia Granny Max remarked on the constant pile of vegetables found after each meal under her table. Roxie wasn’t there to remove the incriminating evidence.

I often joke that Roxie probably wonders what on earth she did wrong when she was made to endure a 17 hour flight from a green and lush Texas to a dry and baron desert home. Then I catch sight of her daily life.

Each morning as we pile in the car, every traveler will perform an absent minded touch of her head or give her a kiss and hug before they leave. She’s been dressed in tutu’s, had make overs and starred in their music videos wrapped in silk kaftans. Each night she divides herself between all 4 of the little travelers, starting with the eldest she then moves to numbers 2, 3 and 4 until she eventually makes her way to the foot of our bed knowing that’s where everyone will end up in the morning.

Every time I feel guilty about our lack of dog parks or her insular life on the compound I’m reminded of the people from Austin that left her because they were too busy. A few days ago our 4th little traveler asked me to come and have a look at the “dog hotel” he had designed. I looked at the beagle shedding her hair all over my favourite cushions, the remnants of someone elses nuttella sandwich on her nose and came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter where the beagle lives, as long as she has the 4 little travelers she’ll be just fine.

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  1. Oh I love this post. I think I love Roxie too. Dogs are THE best. Such unconditional love. I wish my home was bigger so we could adopt some needy strays, but two staffies is enough for us right now. So sad that a family could be too busy for their dog. What did they expect when they first got her?

  2. You’ve made me fall in love with Roxie too!

    There must be something in the air because my latest post is brief but on a similar vein (and yes, our Milly was a lost dogs’ home hand-in too) –

  3. I’m glad you decided to get Roxie. We’ve been living abroad for 5 years now and keep telling ourselves that there’s no way we can have a pet until we move home. But your story makes me want to reconsider.

  4. What a beautiful beagle story…and with a ‘happy ever after’ ending as the kids got over their fear of dogs.

  5. Just beautiful! I really enjoyed getting to know Roxie 🙂 She’s a star!

  6. Love it and can relate too!!! My husband was black and blue before he said yes to having Frankie our little miniature Schnauzer and now he absolutely loves him to bits. Frankie so far has flown from the UK to Abu Dhabi, then Kuwait where we lived for 2 and a half years then onto Doha where he is with us now. I get sad that he doesn’t get much more than a round the compound walk but it is wonderful to watch him out in our back yard playing ball or lazing in the sun…..i know he is happy cos he is here with us…..and if and when we move on from here there is no doubt we wont be going unless he is coming too!!!

  7. Love this post! I’m so glad you got a dog for your kids. I didn’t have pets growing up (except goldfish) and I was terrified of dogs and cats – I have so many humiliating memories of embarrassing myself at friends’ houses. That’s why I’m glad we’ve got dogs for our kids now.

  8. Loved the post about Roxie and love that she was a rescue dog! I think having pets teaches you lots about compassion and empathy and it is wonderful for kids!
    Look forward to hearing more of the adventures of Roxie – maybe a pink tutu photo?

  9. A wonderful story, Kirsty. Roxie sounds fantastic (yet infuriating), which is how all dogs should be. 🙂

  10. I am pretty sure all dogs are neurotic in some way or another! Roxy seems like a total keeper. and you guys are saints for adopting her!

    Squee…I totally want a puggle (Beagle – pug cross)

  11. Another fab story, I love to awake and have a read, it is a great way to start the day, a great giggle.

  12. Thats one lucky little Beagle, what a wonderful family to become part of! Happy National Day! Nicola x

  13. What a great story! Santa brought us a puppy when I was a child for the same reason, for my little sis was petrified of dogs – now she’s looking for one to adopt 🙂

    How funny if her previous owners knew what a fabulous international life she’s had! I think Roxie got a good deal 🙂
    XO L

  14. Gorgeous post!! And so true. Both of our dogs died over the last year and we were a united front when we said we would wait to get a dog. And then we saw a puppy and realised our girls had never had their own puppy. Both of our old dogs we had before they came along.

    And now that puppy (as naughty as she can be) has been the best addition we could have hoped for. She LOVES our girls and our girls love her and wherever they are she is never far behind. Not so great when she is nipping at their dresses while they are riding their bikes though.

    And yes, we had a dog that the family were having a baby and decided it was too much with the dog as well. Will never understand it. Is it a copout or do they get overwhelmed so badly that they easily justify giving away a member of their family?

  15. She sounds perfect and she’s lucky t find the prefect adoptive family!

  16. ooops typo……should read *perfect adoptive family x

  17. Ohh my, our Abby has a twin. Same face, same food issues!

    Many a time we have made emergency vet visits as she has eaten (read: stolen!) more than her stomach can handle.

    I truly believe beagle owners must be in a class of their own. Roxy has landed in a fabulous, beagle friendly home!

  18. I’ve just stumbled across your blog and I’m seriously addicted! You are a great writer and I have enjoyed reading back through your posts.

  19. Oh why haven’t i found you & your family & your puppy & your blog sooner?? I’m a dog loving mother of 4 who moves all the time too, thanks so my gorgeous husband’s work. Just reading your anniversary post, oh yes, totally relate, i have big 9 months husband-at-war chunks of marriage to miss him, he’s incredibly useful when he’s home & i just love him to bits too (13 years + marriage & trust me, Army marriages can out do the Qatar divorce rate). You have to factor in, your husband just married the right gal, simple as that, meant to be!! Love LOVE your mother-in-law pre-wedding advice, i’ll use it for my children!! All the best, love Posie

  20. Should add we don’t move with 20 suitcases, i married an infantryman, if you can’t carry it, you don’t need it!! No kidding, we went to Disneyland with 4 children with ONE SUITCASE!! I’m that good at packing, love Posie

  21. What a beautiful post! and thank you for your kind comment yesterday xx

  22. I’ve been following this blog for quite some time now and just stumbled across this post. I too adopted a naughty little dog from Houston Beagle and Rescue. In fact, my 3 year anniversary date with her was yesterday. When I adopted mine she was probably 9 or 10 years of age. I wanted a quiet beagle who was older and not as active. Turns out my little beagle is a hot mess, loves trash cans of any kind and not afraid of anything. So glad to learn that you guys decided to rescue a beagle. They are the most loyal, trusting breeds out there, but goodness they can be such little terrors. At the end of the day, they are happy creatures and just want to cuddle up with the family. So glad I learned that you too are a fan of Houston Beagle and Rescue. I loved this story about Roxie!

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