Out of the city, into the country
Some dream of fame and fortune, some dream of travel and adventure, and some dream of falling in love. I had only one dream; I wanted a beagle puppy.
When I was six years old, my family welcomed home a little beagle we named T.J.; the initials stood for my brother’s name, Tyler and my name, Jill. T.J. was the best dog in our young eyes. He would always greet you with a wagging tail and was always ready to play. T.J. became a regular family member, and so I knew that if I ever got a dog of my own one day it would have to be a beagle.
High school graduation day came and I moved out of my parent’s house. The next six years were spent living in college dorm rooms and apartments that did not allow pets. Every landlord said, no pets allowed, it was heartbreaking. The longer I lived in my cramped city apartment, the more I dreamt of moving back to a small Nebraska town where I could buy my own house and have my own dog, a beagle of course, in my own backyard.
The situation was getting more pathetic as the months passed. I would go to the pet store and press my face up against the window in awe of all the cute puppies that my landlord would not let me have. My husband would literally have to drag me out of the pet store if they had beagle puppies. Eventually, my husband said I was no longer allowed to step foot inside a pet store because he couldn’t handle dragging me out anymore and then watch me mope around for the rest of the day. Like most wives, I did not listen to my husband. Instead, I had to make my little pet store visits a top secret mission.
City life was starting to wear on both of us, and not just because we weren’t allowed to have pets in our apartment. My husband and I were both from small Nebraska towns, I was from Ogallala and he was from Gering. We lived in Lincoln for a couple years while he finished going to school. We missed the feeling of home that a small town gives you. We were tired of all the traffic, noise, and high cost of living. A movie ticket cost almost nine dollars! We had to take out a small loan to buy popcorn and sodas. After he graduated, we made a mad dash for Western Nebraska moving to Scottsbluff. We were home at last, well almost.
We had to rent another apartment when we first arrived to Scottsbluff that, you guessed it, didn’t allow pets. But we had a plan to move out as soon as humanly possible. We were on a mission; buying our first home. Two months of searching led us to the perfect house just outside the city limits, a place we could call home, and more importantly, a place a beagle could call home. There was a huge yard for a puppy to run around in, it was perfect.
I immediately began searching the classifieds and visiting pet stores in search of my much anticipated beagle puppy. One Saturday morning, I walked into the Ogallala pet store looking for a beagle. The owner said he would keep an eye out for me and talk to the breeders he worked with, but that it could take up to eight weeks to find a male beagle. (I wanted a male, just like our family dog T.J.) I walked out of the pet store disappointed I would have to wait that long.
Two weeks later I got a call from the pet store owner. He had found my beagle! I nearly hyperventilated as he was giving me the news. My beagle was a male, he was 10 weeks old, he was tri-colored with white feet, and I could pick him up in a week! I was bouncing off the walls and called everyone I knew spreading the good news. Once I had calmed down and returned to earth, I realized I wasn’t ready for a puppy!
I thought I would have eight weeks to prepare. I needed dog dishes, toys, food, a leash, a collar. I rushed to the store and have never had so much fun shopping. During my secret pet store visit days of the past, I would also sneak away to the pet aisles of any store and dream of the day I would actually need to buy squeaky toys and puppy shampoo. The day had finally come and I stalked up on anything a puppy could possibly want or need.
We puppy-proofed the house as much as possible and bought carpet stain remover in anticipation of his bladder control mistakes. I had read enough beagle books to know that these mistakes were inevitable with a young puppy. We were ready.
The pet store opened at 10 o’clock Saturday morning, and that’s when my husband and I arrived to pick up our new furry bundle of joy. I was so excited, I was shaking. What would my beagle look like? What kind of personality would he have? Would he like me? Can I take care of another living thing? The pet store owner told us our beagle was in the back room, so she left to go get him. The anticipation was killing me.
And then there he was. The owner placed a sleepy beagle puppy with a milk tummy in my arms. He looked up at me with big brown eyes and a freckled nose and I was instantly in love. This was the beagle I had been dreaming of for all those years in cramped apartments. We named our puppy Snoop because we quickly found out he loves to snoop and get into everything, and he has to be in everybody’s business. We now have a new beagle-shaped shadow.
Snoop brings back good memories of my childhood dog T.J. Like T.J., Snoop will welcome us home not just by wagging is tail, but rather his entire body. And Snoop is always up for a game of tug of war, fetch, or keep away with his toy duck.
When we first brought Snoop home, he was fascinated by the great outdoors. Like us, he had been cramped up for the first weeks of his life at the breeder’s kennel, and he thrived at the chance of being able to be out in the country at his new home. He runs, he rolls around in the grass, he digs holes, and he munches on grass.
I’ll never forget his first encounter with a cow. Our neighbors to the south have cattle that had just had their calves. One big mama cow let out a thunderous moo, and Snoop froze like a statue. He just sat there staring at this enormous black and white giant trying to figure out what it was.
Then there was his first meeting with a toad that created an hour of entertainment for Snoop and for me. The toad would hop, Snoop would jump back and then build up enough courage to jump forward and stick his nose on the toad and bark causing the toad to hop again. The process repeated until I started to feel sorry for the toad who just wanted to be left alone to eat bugs in peace.
Snoop didn’t waste any time taking rein over his new backyard. He proudly trouts around like it is his own kingdom, and our back porch has become his castle. An old-tattered blue lawn chair serves as his throne where he likes to sit and oversee everything that goes on in his yard. If nothing is going on in the yard, King Snoop will chew on his throne to keep entertained.
Snoop has grown to love his big yard in the country as much as we have. My one dream had come true. I had my beagle, my first house, and a place to call home. There’s no place like home in small town Nebraska.
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