Sniffing Out A Story, One Piece of Evidence At A Time

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.


  1. Kathee Williams on September 30, 2010 at 10:17 am

    That is too funny. Dogs are the windows to insight. If we could speak their language more often, I think we all would be wiser. My Chihuahua/Dachshund consistently leads me to new vistas.

    • Emilie Richards on September 30, 2010 at 10:29 am

      Aw. . . . I still miss my little rescue (from the side of a highway) chihuahua. Great little dogs.

  2. Debbie Haupt on October 1, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I remember you talking about him when he first came to you and reading about some of his antics here on the blog, it’s kind of like catching up with an old friend and laughing (with him).

  3. Sunnymay on October 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks for reminding me about the ways of a dog. My first dog was a blue tick hound, a beagle who had a soft mouth. He knew when dad’s rifle was cleaned that it was fall and time to hunt the ducks and geese. Words with an “S” bothered him, because he thought we were calling him since his name was Sparky. He didn’t mind being dressed up or going for wheelbarrow rides with us four kids, but we couldn’t leave crayons out. The dog had an obsession about them and decorated the yard in fine colors. Dogs tend to be most protective of their home and the yard, so we had a few skirmishes with the mailman when the dog went through a glass door and knocked his glasses off. The mailbox opening was one of those things he timed his day by.

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