Been There, Done That: Old tricks for new dogs

Our Beagle Boy Cletus turned 11 in October and has been with us for eight years now. And he seems to be channeling the ghost of our boy Duke more and more all the time. The two boys never met, Dukie died about six months before Cletus came to live with us.

Even in his old age, Duke had some quirky habits and Cletus seems to be picking up more of them all the time.

Dukie’s cable was tied to a run that went from the back of the garage to a tree in the middle of the “back 40” and he constantly had his cable wrapped around the tree. As I trudged out to get him untangled, I’d remind him to be smarter than the tree, but he never was.

Cletus’ run is tied from the back of the house to the front of the garage, but he’s got a tree of his own to contend with and it’s tied to a stake to keep it growing straight and tall — two things to tangle on. At least there’s less travel time to get to him.

That tree seems to be his very favorite spot in the whole yard to do his business and when he does, he wants away from that mess in a big hurry. Of course, with the expected result of being hung up on the tree or the stake or both.

No amount of encouragement will convince him to go anywhere near where he’s just been. He knows what’s over there and he doesn’t want anything to do with it. We have to bring him in on the leash and go back for the cable later.

When we first planted the tree there, it was small and he was able to just drag his cable over the top of it to free himself. It’s about 12 feet tall now so that’s out with the tree, but apparently a technique that works with the little spotlight stuck in the garden bed behind the house.

Cletus had jumped up in the garden bed and out into the yard from there. When his business was concluded, he ran right around the garden and headed for the house, peeling the cable over the top of the spotlight, which leaned over as far as it could and sprang back like something out of a cartoon when the cable cleared it. Good to go, I guess.

Trees may confound Cletus, but he’s practically at expert level on going back around the car. He peeks at me from the front passenger side tire, his eyes pleading because he can see the back door of the house, but he’s at the end of his rope. Literally. I do a loop motion with my hand and tell him to go back around.

He turns and disappears for a beat or two before miraculously popping out from the back driver’s side and running full tilt through the final stretch to the house. How did that happen? And it’s not a fluke either. He’s really good and very consistent with that maneuver.

Inside the house, Cletus also mimics a few of Dukie’s old tricks. Both boys had/have the habit of drink, drink, drink, hack, hack, hack. No breath between and when done, just walk off and let the excess drip off their faces.

Occasionally, Duke would walk by whoever was closest and wipe his face off on their pant legs. Cletus took that a step farther the other day and wiped his face, both sides, on the throw cover on the loveseat. Just walked the length of it, wiping this side and that, with Dave and I both sitting right there. What’s up with that?

When Dave sneezes, Cletus jumps a bit, gives him stink-eye and goes off to hide somewhere else in the house.

Duke never had a “stroke” when Daddy sneezed like Cletus does, probably because he had his own issues with sneezes. So much so that we called his bouts with them “sneezy-face.” When he reared up for a sneeze, he drew in a big breath, his upper lip curled up and one eye closed and then he’d let fly with a colossal sneeze that shook him to his toes.

As Dukie got older, he spent more time napping, in places that were highly inconvenient for the two-legged inhabitants of the house. His favorite spot was in the span from the sink to the kitchen table. Practically cutting the house in half.

Cletus isn’t long enough to cause quite the same effect, so he ups the game by laying in the middle of the doorway — any doorway that can create havoc. If he gets ousted from one, he’ll just relocate to another he thinks will disrupt the household flow.

I can’t wait to see what new/old tricks he comes up with next. (Yeah, right.)

Laura Nethken
+ posts