Bratwurst on stilts

If recollection serves, Beevo was the patent name of some kind of health food a long time ago. Beevo was also the name of my first dog. Beevo remains a cherished memory, and if you wonder why a fine, upstanding, State-of-Maine, Republican dog should be named for a health food, there is a syllable of reason - Beevo was half beagle. The best part of him was beagle, you might say. He was a gift.

Dave Longway had a lady dog of impeccable beagle derivation, laden with papers and AKC recognition, and her nose was famous in the area. She answered to ''Tock,'' since she was named for Madame de Tocqueville, wife of Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel de Tocqueville, author of a political history, ''La Democratie en Amerique,'' which neither Dave Longway nor any other rabbit hunter in town had ever read. When Tock presented Dave with a litter of seven cuddly pups it was immediately clear that the sire was never a beagle. Dave spoke sharply to Tock, since the seven pups were worthless, whereas proper beagles would fetch a good price, but Tock seemed unperturbed by his chiding. When the pups were weaned, Dave packed them into a crate and shipped them, express collect, to a pet shop in Boston.

The owner of the pet shop looked through the slats of the crate, shuddered, and refused to accept the shipment. The next day the crate and pups were back on the station platform of origin, and when notified, Dave Longway said he had important business in the other direction, at some distance, and would return subsequently. Thus Lee Soule, the express agent, under the terms of such shipments, offered the whelps for sale, and then immediately amended that to a giveaway.

I had my pick, and thus owned Beevo. I was ten. Beevo shared my growing-up for five years, and every time anybody looked at him there was a wagging of head.

Beevo did have a beagle's nose. He could smell a rabbit a mile away. But there all resemblance ceased. He had the stance of a bratwurst on stilts, whereas a beagle should be close to the ground and able to trip on his own ears. Beevo's long tail was flagged like that of a red setter, except on the end where it was hairless. His feet were enormous. His bay was about the same size and grew louder as he matured. But his oddities were forgotten as he slobbed his way to my boyhood heart, and we instituted the one-man-one-vote theory. I fixed a place to tie him when I went to school, but upon my return I had to release him instantly or he would howl and peel paint off the barn. Then he stayed at my heels unless I sat down, at which he became a lap dog. He would go to sleep lying across my knees while I did homework, and with his long hind legs he was able to stand on the floor at the same time. When I went to bed he would permit me to get settled first, and then he would churn around until he found his own comfort, after which he would moan if I disturbed him. I'd wake in the morning to look down at Beevo, and he'd be staring at me with one eye open, ready to leap, cavort, cheer, and embrace the pleasures and duties of a new day. Damon and Pythias never knew.

In short, Beevo was of no use whatever. Lacking all instincts of a working dog, he was no help with the cows and sheep, and he was afraid of the pigs. One time a broody hen charged him and he climbed on the woodpile and cringed. His beagle's nose could find a rabbit, but after that he just ran in circles and boomed and after the rabbit watched him go by, it would hunker down and go to feeding again. Which was fine, because Beevo's sole purpose was to supervise my every boyhood adventure, which he did except when I tied him.

Our Saturdays were wonderful occasions. With a lunch, Beevo at heel, I'd head for the woods. We had several places for nooning, different directions, and Beevo and I would decide which one today. There was so much for me to see and so much for Beevo to supervise. He'd run and yelp and whoop and halloo and bugle and bray and bellow and even blat, and everybody in ten miles thought my dog was a winner. Come noon, he'd cuddle and we'd eat. Then, one day he just bugled into the distance, over the hill, and was gone. I never saw him again.

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