Seven years ago today, we flipped a coin and took a chance on a scrawny little beagle pup named Scrappy. (It’s true – we totally flipped a coin to pick our dog. We’ve still never told him.) In honor of the anniversary of his adoption, here’s a look at what this pup’s life is like.
Toby (formerly Scrappy) wakes every morning with a gurgling belly and an insatiable appetite. You don’t understand, his eyes plead. I must eat or I will surely perish. If you don’t acknowledge his predicament quickly enough, he starts to whine and will soon be cramming his wet nose in your face in an effort to get you out of bed.
Eating is a sprint. We joke that he’s half beagle, half goat. He cannot eat quickly enough. And has proven that he’s willing to eat just about anything: Linoleum, trash, stuffed animals, baby birds, etc.
Oh yes. He’s a stone cold baby killer. He didn’t just kill two baby chicks that fell from their nests last year – he ate them whole. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife.
Outside is his favorite place to be, and not just when baby birds are in the trees. You will always find his nose either on the ground or pointed into the air to punctuate a howl. When he finds a particularly succulent scent, he makes a sound we call “gobbling,” which sounds like a turkey in a vacuum that’s stuck in his throat.
And yes, he howls. It’s adorable the first 20 times, but after that, it tends to get annoying. We taught him to “speak” years ago, and never quite figured out how to get him to stop. Folks at the dog park just love the novelty of it (you don’t see a lot of hound dogs in Los Angeles).
He’s part coonhound. He’s part beagle. This means he’s super houndy, super stinky, stubborn as a mule, and will follow his nose off a cliff (as he almost did at the Grand Canyon. Thank god for leashes.)
Speaking of leashes, never let him off of one. His Grampy learned this the hard way, as Toby – happy as a clam to be off-leash! – wandered off onto (and then into) a frozen creek one cold winter day. We believe Grampy’s learned his lesson.
Toby will stretch on command. He’ll snort in your ear as a sign of affection. He will turn on the most unbelievably sad eyes you’ve ever seen if it means you’ll give him a small morsel of food. And then, once he’s really turned on the charm, he’ll let loose a fart cloud that will clear the room.
Right now, he’s lying on the floor next to me, asleep, ears puddling around his face, his paws twitching as he dreams. At almost eight years old, his muzzle gets whiter every day. He’s not as spry as he used to be, but he can be as fast as a cheetah if it’ll help him get to a treat before his sister. And some things will always pique his interest: a stuffed animal, a bone, some rawhide, peanut butter (can you tell he’s food motivated?), and he’s never met a hole in the ground that didn’t require him to go in face-first.
In short, the seven years that Toby’s been with us have been full of moments big and small, and through it all, he’s been there, howling his displeasure, demanding food, and making us laugh. We hope other people have pets in their lives that bring them as much joy as he’s brought to ours. You’ve never truly lived if you haven’t had a hound dog sit down next to you, wag his tail, and happily envelope you in his fart cloud as you rub his belly.