I’ve watched over a few weeks, while driving into town, a beagle puppy with no collar run up and down Hwy 197. He was the cutest thing, his little legs going a-mile-a-minute. I immediately fell in love with him and wondered why I kept seeing him? Didn’t this darling puppy have a home?
One day I asked a lady who lived off the highway if she knew anything about the puppy, as I was very interested in taking him home with me. She said, “I wish you would because he chases my cats and eats their food!” I definitely had her blessing but she also stated, “Good luck catching him!“
Hwy 197 is a very curvy, busy road and not conducive to pulling your car over or parking off of it. Yet, I did just that several times in an attempt to lure the spotted, floppy-eared puppy into my car. With his tail between his legs, he’d just run the opposite direction. He was frightened and not trusting. Then two days went by with no sign of the dog.
Alarmed, I called the local shelter and sure enough, a beagle was brought in that morning. I went to the shelter (a heart-wrenching experience in and of itself) but much to my surprise, it was not the roaming beagle off 197. Disappointed, I could only hope that someone else had rescued the little fella. Yet, my eyes remained peeled for him.
Living in the mountains, we have ‘convenience centers.’ This is where you take your trash and recycling materials. Our convenience center was located off 197, near where I had seen the puppy. Lo and behold, one morning about two weeks after my shelter experience, I was taking my trash there and spied my beagle! The worker at the center was throwing food to him from inside his office.
I approached the man and asked him about the dog, saying I’d like to help the puppy find a home. He told me he had been feeding him for several weeks and had to do so from his office or the dog would run away. He, too, gave me his blessing and wished me luck in catching the frightened puppy. I sensed the man would be happy for the beagle to have a home, but also would miss the relationship the two of them had already established.
I attempted to slowly approach our four-legged friend with food, calling him with my feminine voice, thinking that would differentiate me from the man’s failed attempts to catch him. Of course, Mr. Beagle took off faster than you could shake a stick.
I left feeling defeated but also, as I look at many things in life, thought “If it is meant to be, it will be.” But I wasn’t going to sit back passively hoping to rescue him either. Nets and other strategies were swirling in my mind. This puppy was in my thoughts and heart more and more with each passing day. Freezing temperatures were approaching and I became very concerned about his well-being.
One morning on my way to an important meeting, I turned a sharp curve and there was my furry friend but this time, lying off the highway as if in a deep, peaceful sleep. Abruptly, I pulled my car over as others laid on their horns while they angrily passed me by. Running towards him as fast as I could and hoping I was not too late. Sadly, his eyes were shut and his breath so faint that it was barely noticeable. I bent down and looked into his face. His eyes opened while he left his body. He had frozen to death.
I was devastated! The “If only….’s” began rushing through my mind as fast as the beagle’s short legs had run from me. I then embraced his frozen body into my arms and placed it in the back of my car. My plan was to take him home and bury him on our property. But I felt compelled to stop by the convenience center, not knowing if the same man who was feeding our puppy would be on duty. He was.
I told him I found our furry friend just moments ago. He was visibly saddened. When I also told him I had the puppy in my car and planned to bury him, his face brightened. He said the puppy had blessed him and if I didn’t mind, he’d like to bury him on his property. I agreed without hesitation. When he gingerly scooped the stiffened body into his arms from my car, he commented that he took great comfort and pride that the puppy was so heavy. I said, “Yes, you fed him well.” We parted with tears running down both of our faces.
The beagle was homeless, afraid, and struggled for his survival. Yet, I strongly feel he knew at a certain level that he was loved during his short time on earth by a convenience center worker and a determined, some-what obsessed lady. And without need of saying, he certainly knows he is deeply loved where he is now!
His life, to me, was representative of the loneliness, fear and struggles that lie within each of us. There is no difference between any of us. We share common humanity with the same feelings and emotions. Acknowledging and accepting our a likeness should allow not only compassion for others but for our own selves. We are all one in the eyes of God and our furry counterparts are every bit as important as those who walk on two legs. It is vital for us to know and remember our inner-connection to one another and spread our love to each passing one we meet: furry or not. I think my beagle buddy, if he could speak now, would say, “Spread the Love!”
Copyright, Denna J. Shelton, 2022
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