We have two beagles named Buddy and Buster. We brought home Buddy when we were newlyweds. We loved him so much, we brought home his cousin, Buster, not six months later. He was with us two short days before we almost took him back. He barked. He cried. He terrorized. The Mister had a friend from work who loved beagles, and for a split second we debated calling him to see if he would take Buster. I started to cry.
“I’ve never given up on a dog before.”
“I haven’t either,” said the Mister. “Let’s not start giving up now.”
So we didn’t. Beagle puppies are a lot like babies. Both Buddy and Buster woke up every couple of hours the first couple of weeks, but Buster took it a step further and cried and cried and cried. The only way we could get him to calm down was to wrap him in a warm blanket and pace the room like parents to a newborn. I sang lullabies to him, which made the Mister roll his eyes…until it worked. Then he tried, but since all my lullabies are in Spanish, he ended up feeling stupid walking around our room singing to a dog, “Mmmm, mmm, mah mah, laaaa.” It was funny, even at 2am.
And then, maybe because of the lullabies, Buster became my dog. Like the Mister, Buddy is stoic, loyal, and calm. Buster is more like me, excitable, impulsive, and nurturing. Yes, Buster is nurturing. All that pampering and singing made our Bussie a full fledged mother hen. If someone is hurt or sick, he is there. When Nicholas cries, he is the first to show up for snuggle duty, unless Nicholas is faking, which he does a lot. I don’t know if fake tears smell different than real tears, but† Buster always knows the difference.
The school called me yesterday. Two hours and one pediatrician’s office visit later, Mikey stumbled into the house with back pain and a fever of 103. He was tested for the flu, which came out negative (yay!), but still needed to rest, of course. And Buster was right there to accommodate him. The second we walked in the door, there he was, sniffing Mikey up and down. When Mikey went to the sofa, Buster walked right next to him, glued to his calves. When I told Mikey he couldn’t watch TV and needed to go straight to his room to sleep, Buster trailed after a sobbing Mikey.
I tucked Mikey under the covers and looked at my feet. There was Buster, giving me a look that said the world would counter-rotate before he followed me out of the room. I sighed and waved towards the bed. “Okay, fine. Up you go.” I didn’t have to tell him twice.
Twenty minutes later, I came back to check on them. Buster didn’t move a muscle and ignored my camera. Mikey, hot with a fever, was sound asleep. I left them both alone, knowing Buster would let me know if things changed for the better or worse.
Sure enough, within a half an hour I heard a yipe behind Mikey’s door. I opened it and out came Buster, smugness oozing from every hair on his body. Had he nodded his head in satisfaction, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I heard him make his way towards the sliding doors and out into the backyard while I checked a sleeping Mikey for fever. He was perfectly cool to the touch, fever gone.