Betsy beagle was the dog I wasn’t going to get, the dog I wasn’t going to have anything to do with that I somehow ended up running an Instagram account for and to this day, I’m still not exactly sure how that happened.
She passed away rather suddenly and unexpectedly over the weekend and we are all heartbroken. She was the sweetest, smartest, sassiest, most stubborn creature you could ever hope to meet. She packed a lot of personality into her 35 pounds as anyone who ever met her can attest to. She had a fear of missing out, insisting on being outside as much as possible where she could keep an eye on the neighborhood from her various perches around the yard. She loved sunbeams, a good porch, leaf piles, snow, the beach, car rides, long walks in the woods, little kids, cheese, fried okra, blueberries and cherries from our garden, a good bone, watching the birds feed their babies in the hedge and eating all the cherries on our tree, sleeping in as late as possible, structure and rules and of course, all the pillows she could possibly claim, which was all of them in the house.
She had a long memory – she could hold a grudge like no one else you’ve ever met and yet, if we ever walked by your house and you acknowledged her, she never again walked by again without saying hello. A true beagle, she could extend a walk around the block indefinitely by stopping every few inches to take the time to smell each blade of grass and ivy leaf very thoughtfully and individually, using her paw to separate one from its neighbors.
She famously ran off a few times – including the time at Smith Mountain Lake within weeks of her coming to live with us and we thought for sure she was gone for good. She came back a few hours later, just quietly showing up at the back door like no big deal. Eventually though, we broke her of that. And eventually, I found I could let her off leash at the park for our long, rambling walks in the woods. She clearly realized we were her people and not worth her solo excursions.
Our afternoon walks were always an adventure in which I let her choose the direction. When suddenly everyone was home all the time in March of 2020, those walks became my ‘alone’ time – often we’d head to a spot in the woods just to sit. She would sometimes insist on it, pulling me until we got there, somehow knowing I needed that.
I always threated to write a series of children’s books about Betsy’s adventures – the days we would see a fox in the woods, the time she was mere inches from a doe and a brand new fawn in the woods and she very quietly just waited there for me to catch up with her, never once making a sound. How she would catch a live cicada and walk home with it in her mouth, completely trying to play it off despite the noise. I found myself friends with a neighbor family that Betsy became slightly obsessed with, always plopping herself down in their front yard just waiting for someone to walk out. With four kids and three cats, there was always something going on and she was there for it. When their fifth child was born, she ever so gently stood on her hind legs to get a proper sniff of that baby.
Edie was the one who rescued her and it was clear Betsy adored her. Betsy was not the sort of dog to snuggle, although she learned in time. And we learned that when she snuggled up close to soak it in. When Edie went off to college, it took Betsy, like me & Pat, some time to realize she wasn’t just away at camp. In a lot of ways, Betsy helped me through that first little hump of empty nesting. It probably didn’t hurt that I insisted on taking her everywhere I possibly could. She didn’t always like going new places, but she definitely learned to get over her anxiety of it. And good lord, that dog was anxious. She came to us that way and we worked through a lot of it, but she would still have her moments here and there.
We buried her under the hydrangea that she loved to lay under from her first days with us. It was where I found her the other day and realized something wasn’t right. She loved that spot at the top of the hill – it allowed her to keep tabs on the garden and the entire neighborhood while also offering good sunbeams and nearby shade. What more could a beagle ask for?
She was a damn good dog. And we will miss her terribly.