“Aww, look at the little fella, how can you call him the spawn of Satan?”
Max is a beautiful Beagle. He is well-marked with long, thin legs, and he has that award-winning Beagle arch. He has a dog-smile on his face almost twenty-four seven, and he has a great disposition. The idea that the breeder sold him for a fifth of what his brothers and sisters were going for confused us? The breeder said she could only guess that most Beagle fans want a female, or they wanted a Beagle that was more white than black. She said she was as confused as we were. My best guess, four months in, is that potential buyers knew more about Beagles than we did. My guess is they know, like we all do, that Beagles are all high energy, very intelligent and stubborn, but there’s always one who is a little more of all of the above. My guess is that they sensed that Max might be a little crazed, and they knew to beware the runt of the litter. The runt is the demon child.
Those in our house who don’t close their bedroom door know that something they hold dear will be ripped to shreds within the hour. We know that it’s in our best interests to keep him interested and engaged, because if he grows disinterested, he’ll find something to fill the void.
“Give a Beagle little to no exercise at your own peril,” experts warn. Okay, but how much exercise does the average Beagle need? Whatever that number is for the average Beagle, go ahead and triple that for Max. We walk him twice a day, play with him constantly, and we have a huge backyard that he spends most of his day in, zooming back and forth in at top speed, and it’s never enough. He comes back inside jacked up, jamming a toy in our face. Four months in, I’ve yet to see him pant with exhaustion. My high energy, high functioning child can’t even keep up with this dog.
Experts talk about the Beagle’s strong sense of smell. Most dogs walk with their heads up, but they put their head down to sniff stuff. I’ve yet to see Max take more than ten steps with his head up. When I leaned over to watch his schnoz in action, the rapid speed of his nose touching ground reminded me of a hummingbird’s wings, moving so fast it’s almost hard to see. If we put paint on the end of his nose, we could probably find our way back home.
I’ve had him for four months, which is roughly 120 days, and I’ve probably pulled 100 things out of his mouth. A sample of this list includes hair scrunchies, innumerable COVID masks, already been chewed gum (more than six times), other dogs’ waste matter (more than ten times, and one of them was disgustingly long) a wide variety of plastic items, coins, candy, various parts of any dead animals he finds, and day’s old, rotting rice. That’s a very small sample of what I remember pulling out. He’s like the bull shark of dogs, he’ll eat anything and everything, and he growls angrily when I pull stuff out.
I know a dog’s sleeping patterns are probably as relative as humans, but this dog rarely sleeps. I can count the number of times that he wasn’t up for at least nine hours straight on one hand. Nine hours! Nine hours doesn’t seem like much in human terms, but imagine trying to entertain a high energy, high functioning dog for nine straight hours. When he’s up, he’s not watching TV, looking out the window, or playing with his toys. Max knows how to play by himself, and he does play with his toys, but he gets bored easily and very quickly. It takes about as long as your relief sigh. When he gets bored, he gets into things, causing trouble, and doing anything and everything he can to gain our attention. One day, he was up for eleven straight hours without a nap. Needless to say, it can be exhausting and frustrating, and it can consume your life.
Most dogs are on our schedule. When we’re ready to play with them, or entertain them in any way we dream up, they respond eagerly. I understand and appreciate the fact that puppies are different, but even most puppies sleep until you’re ready to play with them. Not this guy.
When I searched for a new puppy, I put together a mental checklist. I wanted a dog that was playful (check), I wanted him to be high energy (check), I wanted him to always want to be around me (check), and I wanted a dog who wanted to sleep on my lap while I watched TV (check). I got everything I wanted in this dog and then some, but it’s the “and then some” that I’m writing about today. The “and them some” portion occurs after we’ve played ball for 15-20 minutes, and he’s racing the ball back to me with as much speed and energy as he had when we started. I know, I know, the puppy thing, but it’s impossible to exhaust this dog. I’ve yet to see him run out of energy.
I read all of the “read this before you buy a Beagle,” warning lists. I read literature stating that due to their high level of energy, their nose, and their heightened sense of adventure that the owner will need to keep them leashed them at all times, and that they will want to kennel train them immediately after bringing them home, because a Beagle needs to be kenneled when they sleep and when their owners leave. Doing anything less is just asking for trouble. I read all that from what I considered a knowledgeable perspective. I owned a Puggle (part Beagle, part Pug), so I thought I knew what I was getting into. I don’t know if the Pug characteristics softened the Beagle traits in my previous dog, but this purebred Beagle is another league.
He is a good puppy, and he will eventually be a great dog. He runs and plays keep away with the neighborhood kids. He greets every new person as if they’re the greatest person on Earth. He loves meeting kids and other dogs, and he has a very sweet disposition, but he is CONSTANTLY on.
Walking him is an excellent workout for anyone who wants to focus on their forearms, as he wouldn’t know a straight line if he tripped over it. Every dog I’ve owned went from two pulls on the leash, as a puppy, to one pull as a full grow adult dog. The average walk with Max sounds like a dance step, “It’s one step, two step, pull, pull, pull, three step, four step, pull, pull, pull.” If he’s mildly interested in something, it might require three tugs on the leash, but if he’s intensely interested in something, and this usually happens two to three times a walk, I have to pull him away from it with greater force. At this point in his puppyhood, I am the only one in the neighborhood who can walk him. No one else is focused enough to distract him, when necessary, as often as it’s necessary to prevent him from ingesting something he shouldn’t, and no one is strong enough to keep him in line when required. And it’s not as if he’s heavy, because he’s not, but even twenty pounds becomes taxing after the rigors of repetitive motion begin to kick in. He exhausts kids as easily as adults. A discarded, half-full milkshake cup required so much pulling that I almost considered calling for assistance.
I’ve read some Beagle owners write, “Toughen up buttercup!” when a Beagle owner complains. And they add, “You should’ve known what you were getting into. You should’ve done your research!” I thought I had. I read all the literature I could find on the breed, and I prepared my friends and family for him, but I now think I might have been the least prepared because I thought I was.
Maybe Max is an anomaly. I love playing with dogs, and I can get rowdy, so it’s possible that I jacked him up to another level. From what I read now, from my current perspective, I don’t think so. Maybe I’m not disciplined enough to keep Max disciplined. Maybe I’m just not a very good trainer. This is not only possible but plausible, but I ask the novice, dog enthusiast how many of us have the time, patience, and discipline necessary to train such a dog?
“My college roommate had a beagle,” a friend, who purchased a Freagle (French bulldog, Beagle mix) told me. “I said I would never buy a Beagle after what I saw that dog do. That dog got into everything. Every day there was something new with that dog.” I wish I would’ve talked to her first before purchasing this one. I might not have listened, but I probably would’ve been better prepared.
This warning is being sent out to those who are interested in purchasing what I consider the most beautiful, friendly, and loyal breed of dogs, be careful what you wish for. You might have more energy than I do, and you might be love dogs so much that you’re willing to spend hours with that dog entertaining him, and if you do, you’ll absolutely love the experiences you have with your new, little pooch 80% of the time, but you will run out of gas eventually. They won’t.