Joey the Beagle was just a pup when he brought his family to meet us. The holidays were fast approaching, and he needed a home away from home to stay at while his family traveled. Joey was accompanied by his young owner, Ben, and Ben’s mother, Joanne. Ben held Joey’s leash protectively while I reassured them both that Joey would be left in a loving, safe environment. Joanne and I agreed completely about the evils of rewarding a begging dog by sharing food with him. During the course of our conversation, Dearly Departed Joe wandered into the kitchen, scooped up wiggling Joey, and introduced himself: “Hi Joey, I’m Joe,” and then offered him a bite of cheese. What the heck? Joe never shared his food with our pups. As Joe interacted with the excited Beagle pup, it occurred to me that Joe and Joey not only shared the same name, but that Joey’s young owner’s first name was Joe’s middle name. It was a sign of good things to come.
Joey arrived at camp. He howled goodbye to his family, howled hello to me, and raced off to find Joe—his namesake, pal and advocate. Joey became one of the family, and we all fell in love with his Beagle ways. Well, most of them, anyway.
It’s embarrassing to admit how many times Joey escaped with our food. We did become wiser and quicker over time, but his Beagle timing was impeccable. He had the reach of a longshoreman. The food evidence (wrappers and crumbs) would be left for another unsuspecting pup to discover while he took off with a pork chop, grilled cheese sandwich, or chocolate bunny. When I yelled, “JOEY!” Joe went into lawyer mode, always asking if I had caught him in the act. Joey was never convicted. We often ordered take-out based on circumstantial evidence. When I suggested that Joey might be putting on a bit of weight from plundering and pillaging counters and plates, Joe defended him by declaring him an oversized Beagle. Indeed, oversized by illicit grilled cheese sandwiches and pork chops. I tried to set Joey up once with a video camera and a hot dog, but all I got back was a video of him winking at me. I winked back.
It was known as the ear incident. Joey was contently sunning his Beagle bones while I was reading nearby when another camper walked over to him and latched onto his Beagle ear. Joey, as one can imagine, woke up with a blood curdling howl. I raced to his defense, but the other dog refused to let go. I was screaming, Joey was howling in agony, and the other dog continued clamping his teeth down on his ear. I grabbed a nearby glass of water and threw it on the other camper, causing him to release Joey’s ear and nail my finger with his teeth. Joey continued to howl in outrage and pain while I grabbed the offender and threw his tail into a crate. I gave Joey all my sympathy, cleaned his ear, put him to bed under a soft blanket. That night when Joe came home, the story was retold. He spent the entire evening patting Joey’s ear, saying, “Poor, poor Joey.” If you are wondering about my finger, thank you. It was fine. Until the day Joe died (many years after the ear incident), he would look over at Joey during one of his visits and say, “How’s your ear, Joey?” and I swear Joey would whimper a bit as Joe once again patted it and murmured, “Poor Joey, poor, poor Joey.” The offender never came back to camp again. You didn’t mess with our Joey.
Dearly Departed Joe took Joey and his golden brothers (who had joined Joey’s family) home the day he died. I have always been comforted knowing that Joe and Joey were able to say goodbye to one another. In the years following Joe’s death, Joey never once looked for him or howled for him. He simply insisted on sleeping under the covers on Joe’s side of the bed.
In April, I picked up Joey and his brother, George, for a camp visit. Their family usually brought both boys to camp, but I would be in the neighborhood and could offer them a ride. But then life got crazy and I ended picking them up the evening before their family left town instead of the morning of the same day. When we pulled up, Joey said goodbye to his family and greeted us with his usual howl before he jumped into the camp van with his brother George. After dinner, he feel asleep in a comfy chair on Joe’s side of the bedroom. I found it a little odd that he didn’t want to sleep on the bed, but he sighed happily when I covered him with a soft blanket. Joey liked to be under the covers. Sadly, the next morning, Joey did not wake up . . . he died peacefully in his sleep. The Beagle that shared Joe’s first name, while his owner shared Joe’s middle name, said goodbye to Joe the day he died and would now be greeted by Joe’s silly little made-up song for him on the other side of the rainbow bridge . . . Joey, Joey, JOEY! JOEY! The Beagle!
Joey had the best forever family a Beagle could have. He was Ben’s first dog and was showered with boyhood love the moment they met. He had a very special place in our home and our hearts. I can’t say it any better than Joanne did: “Joey was a very special Beagle.” We are so grateful his family shared him with us.
Rest in Peace, Joey. May the bacon bones be with you.
Odd Loves Company,
Joey paw prints are forever embedded on our hearts.
Always a good sport with excellent balance!
Joey with his brothers Max and George. Sweet Max died the summer of 2009.
Rascal’s serious face. Joey suffered her well.