I’m still not quite sure how this happened. One moment I volunteered to dog-sit for the pathetic puppy that my son and daughter-in-law had rescued from the path of a bush hog and nursed back to health. The next I was on the telephone with my husband, who was out of town at a conference. “Remember that beagle puppy the kids are trying to find a home for? Well, they found one.”
Then, mimicking the words of generations of small children before me, I added: “Of course since this was my decision, I’ll do all the work.” And I meant it. . . exactly the way all those little kids had.
Today Nemo, the rascally beagle puppy, is an adult lap dog. While the puppy Nemo never met a creature he didn’t like, the adult Nemo is much more reserved. Show him a deer and he looks the other way. He terrorizes sticks and rocks exclusively, leading us to view more x-rays of a beagle stomach than we ever hoped to see. While he has his private pack, my husband and me, the son and daughter-in-law who rescued him and their dogs, most of the rest of the world is excluded, unless they come with treats in hand. I spent more money this past week discussing Nemo’s peculiarities with my vet than I would have spent at a psychiatrist.
Today on our walk, after I pulled him past a monster trash Dumpster, through sprinkles of acid rain, across Beagle-Bashing-Boulevard (two lanes, no traffic) we finally got to the woods (most likely the same woods where Little Red Riding Hood met the wolf). At the border Nemo dove under the thickest canopy of trees, plunked himself down and stared at me as if to say: “You go ahead, I’ll be here waiting.” Although my arms are now as sturdy as tree trunks from hours of beagle pulls, I gave in and home we went. Along the way we passed the world’s smallest and cutest cocker spaniel. Nemo, of course, gazed at the horizon, and the friendly little interloper went its merry way.
And that’s when Nemo showed his true colors. While completely uninterested in socializing with this potential new friend–a harmless friend twenty pounds lighter and inches shorter–Nemo was now utterly fascinated. He sniffed every inch of the dog’s path to that point, until he knew all there was to know.
Voila! I finally understand. Nemo has the heart of a novelist. No wonder I fell in love with him. Nemo, like those of who write, is most comfortable tracing the paths of others, finding out where they’ve been, maybe even wondering where they might next go, than he is in actual encounters them. He is a detective, happiest ferreting out the intricate details, the secrets, and yes, the evidence left behind.
Even before that revelation, I wouldn’t have traded a scrap of fur from Nemo’s blue tick body for a less neurotic dog, but now maybe I can relate to him a bit better. The next time he puts nose to the ground to follow a scent no human could ever detect, I will understand. Nemo’s looking for a story. If only he could talk.