On December 22, we had to make a long-distance decision to let our best dog-friend, Hubert Beaglebasset, slip peacefully away from us to go where ever really good dogs go after they die. He will be missed by everyone who knew him. He was a dog with spirit. He played hard and he loved deeply.
I found Hubert at the Marin SPCA about seven years ago. He looked up at me (and everyone else looking for a dog that day) with his deep brown eyes begging to be let out of the cage. I took him for a walk and thus learned the first and most important thing about hounds – they are all about the nose. He put his to the ground and sniffed non-stop until we made it back to the pound. I choose him over a Dalmatian puppy, the only other dog available for adoption that day. I was told that Hubert was found abandoned in a parking lot with his leash, and a bowl and a broken heart.
Some challenging habits of a Beaglebasset
What the SPCA didn’t tell me – and I didn’t know – was that Beagle’s bay. I think – and our neighbors quickly learned – that they must be the noisiest dog in the world – think of a Beaglebassett standing on the hot tub cover on our deck howling non-stop while we ran errands. Hubert taught us to keep him inside whenever we had to leave him home alone.
Beagle’s have another challenging habit as well – they will do ANYTHING for food. Hubert thought nothing of climbing up on our kitchen table and then onto the draining board to scavenge any scrap of food left on the dirty dishes. He once scored bacon off of my plate before the waiter put it on the table. He got a big chunk of turkey from the Thanksgiving buffet. He ate a friend’s sandwich, left unwittingly on a counter, and then he hid the plastic bag that it came in behind some bushes in the backyard. He would lick the gray water in the dishwasher as I loaded dirty dishes and he would snatch food from our granddaughters’ hands. Eventually, he trained us to put all food in the fridge or on a very high counter.
Hubie was MY dog and I was HIS person
Hubie loved both Dov and me, but he loved me the most. When I was home, he would follow me everywhere: upstairs, downstairs, into the backyard, and back again. He was my shadow. If I had to go out, even if it was only an hour or so, he would run victory laps around our dining room table when I returned, barking and whining his joy at not being abandoned – again. And, if I said, “let’s go for a walk, Hubert.” He would run back and forth in the kitchen pausing only long enough for me to put on his leash.
In his younger days, he was the Alpha Dog – snarling and nipping at the biggest dogs in the neighborhood. He was Hubert Beaglebasset, the King of Larkspur. As he got older, he mellowed, but never lost his enthusiasm for The Walk. Our last walk together, I let him off leash – his first completely free walk. He sniffed his favorite trees and bushes and slowly made his way home – retreating to his living room bed for a long nap afterward.
We loved our morning routine. Hubert would bound from the bedroom, run lickety-split down the stairs to the kitchen to wait for his Milk Bone. Once I got one from the cabinet, he would jump up and try to grab it from my hand – when he finally got it in his mouth, he would demolish it with a few well-placed crunches -now it was time to pee and time to poop. Hubert loved this routine…and so did I.
Hubie’s last illness
Hubie’s last illness, probably gastric cancer, robbed us of this joy. Towards the end of his life, he would still race down the stairs, as usual, but he lost his appetite for dog biscuits, only reluctantly eating one when his rival, my trainer Elizabeth’s French Bulldog, Bruno, tried to it instead.
We knew Hubert was failing when we left for our long-planned trip to the Antarctic, but we never imagined his illness would accelerate as fast as it did. Within a week, we had an email from his vet (where we boarded him) telling us that Hubert was weak, had a fever, and wasn’t eating. Despite antibiotics and IV fluids, he got worse at a rapid rate. Our vet urged us to let him euthanize Hubert, but I resisted, hoping Hubert could hold out until we got back to the US. I wanted him to die at home surrounded by his people – I wanted to rub his silky ears one more time. But Hubert’s illness was relentless. He developed paralysis of his back legs – this dog that loved to run up the hill chasing imaginary deer could no longer stand. He developed a coagulopathy – leaving him with a large ecchymosis (accumulation of blood) on his tongue. This dog that loved every kind of food – even vegetables – could no longer eat. We had to let him go.
Goodbye, Sweet Hubert. You were one fine dog.