An eager beagle digs himself into the neighbors' hearts
When a divorce leaves a beagle in limbo, the dog's venturesome spirit saves the day.
When we first moved into the quiet neighborhood, our neighbors to the east were a happy family with three preteen children, two cats, and a beagle named Huckleberry. The children would throw balls and chase Huckleberry around the front yard and into the backyard where we could hear the laughter and giggling continue on the other side of the fence.Skip to next paragraph
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Our two families became friends – often conversing over that back fence, discussing school events and comparing plants and pets.
Then, after a few years, there was an affair and the laughter in their house stopped. The mother moved out and the children, then teenagers, didn't seem to know where to be. Finally the children also left, leaving the father alone in the house with the two cats and Huckleberry. The nature of his work caused him to be gone for long periods; and even when he was home his heart was no longer in the care of his home – or of the three animals. They were fed, but they were lonely.
The cats found new homes and disappeared, leaving Huckleberry. He was a sad little dog. To give him some company I began talking to him through the fence when I was working in the yard. Soon he had dug a hole under the fence so we could spend more time up close. The father apologized and tried to close the hole until I told him I was happy to have Huckleberry in our yard. He began to inhabit both yards, spending his days in ours and eating and sleeping in his.
Then came a very cold winter. Looking over the fence, I could see that Huckleberry's doghouse was bare wood and, with his short beagle hair, he was cold at night. Our laundry room had an exterior door, so I made a bed of old blankets and invited Huckleberry to spend the nights there. Since I had to leave the outside door open for him to come and go, the room was cold – so I began the practice of covering him with one of the blankets each night before we went to bed.
Soon, however, I noticed that he would already be covered when I went into the laundry room. I assumed that one of our daughters had covered him until, one night, I happened to look through the window in the door. There was Huckleberry deftly wrapping himself up in a blanket and settling down for the night.
Huckleberry had other holes under the fence as well – unbeknownst to us or his owner. He soon began appearing at other houses in the neighborhood, one in particular where a little boy lived.
One day as I drove home from work I saw Huckleberry and the boy playing in the boy's front yard. I stopped and opened the car door, asking, "Huckleberry, what are you doing here?" As he leaped into the car, the boy's mother ran over. "His name is Huckleberry?" she asked. "My son loves this dog so much. Do you know who the owner is? Might he be willing to give this dog up?" I agreed to talk to our neighbor, who was delighted that Huckleberry had found someone to love him.
I often saw the little boy walking Huckleberry around the neighborhood. Both of them looked happy, and Huckleberry had put on considerable weight. The next winter I ran into the boy's mother and inquired how Huckleberry was getting along. "Our whole family adores that dog!" she said. "And do you know, he does the most amazing thing? We have his doghouse full of blankets. And every night he takes one blanket and completely wraps himself up in it to sleep. He is an absolutely brilliant dog!"