Alaska the Beagle

It’s rainy days like these that I really miss him, my beagle Alaska. He hated going out for walks in the rain and would shiver like mad when it came time for a bath. He never liked water much, I reckon. He must be around 14, or 15 years old now and that’s really old in dog years; but no matter how old and grey he gets, he’ll always be a baby to me, I suppose. Now I understand why mom still calls me and my siblings her “children.”

I haven’t seen Alaska for quite a few years now, due to a relationship breakup; but I hear that he’s doing alright living with her and he no longer needs daily pills for his arthritis. I remember when arthritis first hit him around his 10th birthday it was so severe that I had to put a towel under his belly and held it like a sling so that he could walk around the yard to go pee and stuff. At that time, we weren’t sure if he’d make it to his 11th, and a young niece of ours cried when she came to visit and saw Alaska in that condition. Everybody loves Alaska. Then I finally took him to the vet and he was prescribed a daily regimen of chondroitin and glucosamine pills that gave him the needed lubrication for his joints and that cured him. He was jumping around within a week! Thank God for veterinarians.

On a not so happy note, I was also told he doesn’t see well anymore due to some type of eye disease (may be cataract)… same goes with his hearing. I guess old age is finally catching up to him. Poor Alaska…:-(

And that’s the toughest part about being a pet owner for many folks. They come to love their pets as their own but knowing that their pets have a much shorter life span than they do. In some way, it’s like being one of the Highlander immortals not wanting to fall in love with the mortals because they can’t stand to watch their counterparts grow old and die before they do. But they do it anyway, because love is never logical (and because that’s always the main plot of the miniseries).

I’ve read that dogs were domesticated from wolves to be man’s best friend…. and Alaska is no exception. He was always a babe-magnet when I took him for walks and everyone adored him because he loved people unconditionally. Dogs, especially beagles, are like that. They may fear you if you mistreat them but they are quick to forgive and forget. He is a sure thing if there ever was one.

It has been said that dog-owners tend to live longer than non dog-owners because dogs help reduce their owners’ stress levels. I can attest to that. Back then, no matter what kind of day I’ve had, when I got home, he was always there waiting for me, barking and wagging his tail. A little pet on the head or a hug was all that he needed to feel special, and a little snack (especially beef jerky) was like Christmas to him. I wish us humans were just as easy to please.

A joke (that I certainly do not condone) goes like this. You’re inside your house and your wife rings the front door bell – at the same time, your dog is barking at the back door, begging to get in the house. Who should you let in first? According to the joke, you should let the dog in first because at least it’ll stop barking. Terrible, terrible joke (especially if you get the barking implication)…I know, but it goes to show why dogs are called man’s best friend.

My mom once said that she feels for dogs because their fates rest with their owners. I absolutely agree. If their owners treat them well then they’re lucky; and if they are mistreated, then that’s their fate, since they don’t know enough to run away from abusing owners. Perhaps they believe that we are all like that so they just deal with it until they eventually die or rescued. I can’t stand seeing helpless pets get abused. One time I called the cops on a close family friend because I noticed his dog was being mistreated. I think he got a steep fine for it but it was well deserved, in my opinion. I think we all should do that whenever you see a suffering pet, no matter who’s the owner. The cops will respond to your call and they will be fair, no worries, and will often give the offending owner a chance to repent. Do it, make the call, be someone’s hero if you see animal abuse.

On a happier note, I asked Santa and got a 35-second video clip of Alaska from a family member who visited him over this past Christmas break. It was a fantastic gift. Alaska looks the same, just a little slower and his coat a little greyer. I wish I could go see him now, but I think it’s best that I not disturb his world and open old wounds. You see…some wounds, especially those that are matters of the heart, never heal. There’s no pill for that.

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