Falling In Love Again

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 10 2013 @ 9:00pm

bowie3

So this weekend I spent upstate with close friends and a three-legged beagle called Bowie. It’s a very Dish story. A Dish reader – and, oddly enough, a writer for AC360 Later – emailed me a few weeks ago. His girlfriend was taking care of three dogs (and a few birds) and one of the creatures – a rescued beagle – was proving a little too much on top of the menagerie, work, and life. She was trying to find a new home for the dog, and he recalled how I had lost one only this summer. It was a long shot but I was intrigued. So we agreed to meet the little scamp at the neighboring dog park, and then to take her for a weekend away. As I write this, she has coiled herself around my feet in a bedroom near Livingston Manor, New York.

She was given the name Bowie – after David – and it seems as good a name as any. She’s a small beagle – only 15 pounds – and still young for a survivor, at 18 months. The trip, alas, didn’t start that well. I fed her a calming treat that, an hour later, gave her awful gas in the backseat; and then she peed on my bed almost as soon as we got there. Smelled like Dusty. I crated her the first night, because of peeing worries, but at dawn, she woke me with whimpers. I took her out for a wee and then back to bed, where I left the crate behind and let her snuggle up against me, as I wheezed myself back to sleep (bad asthma lately). She woke me again a few hours later to kisses all over the beard. After breakfast, we went for an old-fashioned English country walk.

She came alive – her nose dragging us all forward, backward, up and down, the white tip of her tail a frenzy of white at the end of a long leash. She has a petite little beagle face, a perky, skittish mischievous streak, and, of course, a stump where her right hind leg used to be. She had been part of a hunting pack, I was told, and one day she’d been hit by a car. Rather than euthanize her, she was rescued and had her leg photo(5)amputated. I mention this because it is, of course, the first thing you notice about her, but it is also the first thing you forget. She runs like the wind, she pulls like a terrier, and she seems utterly oblivious to her handicap. Peeing can be a little tough, since a girl dog has to squat – and one-legged-squats can be tricky. Squeezing one out might seem a little odd too, but she manages it rather efficiently. The rest of the time, she loves playing with a tennis ball, and smelling everything in her vicinity. She has that beagle nose and that beagle curiosity.

Which included the resident cat, a large, Cartmanesque male called Bob. From the get-go, it was clear Bob was pissed off. He inhabited a neighboring house but is used to living in my friend’s place in the winter. He wasn’t too happy to see a three-legged dog enjoy his master’s company, while he was shut out – because of my allergies. So he got his revenge. After a few near-skirmishes, we thought we were out of the woods, literally and figuratively, and then we got home and somehow, he got inside. I was upstairs when I heard a snarl and then howls of panic and anguish from Bowie. I scooped her up and tended to her slightly bloody nose and a heartbeat faster than humming bird’s. Life-lesson number one: don’t mess with a fat cat. The rest of the weekend, united in fear of the creature, we were inseparable.

So we’re getting a new dog, via a Dish reader no less, and I have to say this weekend was a bit of a love affair. There is so much about her that reminds me of Dusty as a puppy – the pathological wolfing of the food, the constant interest in every smell, scent and sight, the sheer constant energy. But unlike Dusty, she’s extremely affectionate. And even obedient. By the end of the weekend, she had perfected “sit” and “stay” and (almost) “down” – and there were no more accidents. We didn’t use her crate after the first night. If I didn’t see her, all I had to do was say “Bowie” and she would come scampering around the corner to shower me with love.

Just when you least expect it … just what you least expect. I think the grieving is done now.