For the love of beagles

It's beagle mania as 9-year-old Wesley Braddock attempts to handle rambunctious beagle puppies during a recent reunion of the five beagles adopted by Terry residents. The puppies, pictured from left, are Cash, Cinder, Buster and Oliver. Chloe is not pictured.

 By Kay Braddock

Montana Best Times
A publication of Yellowstone Newspapers


There’s no better medicine than a good dog.

That therapeutic principle can be doubled when referring to a first-class hound dog ... in particular, the beagle.

Now mind you, this piece isn’t written under any pretense of mumbo-jumbo journalistic objectivity that you’ll find in other news reports. Nope. This account is unabashedly pro-beagle. And if you don’t like beagles, you might as well stop reading this. The next several paragraphs are going to be pretty ugly for any of those dastardly beagle-haters out there. For the rest of us, the following will likely appear as pure poetic prose.

Now let’s move on to the beauty of beagles and how five families in the small eastern Montana town of Terry, population about 600, came to discover their distinct and attractive splen­dor.

Consider the beagle’s amazing sense of smell or its magnifi­cently smooth coat. How about those irresistible floppy ears, warm brown eyes, and that white-tipped tail that briskly wags back and forth as the beagle buries his nose to the ground chas­ing after distinct scents only a beagle’s snout can detect? Although believed to be around for 2,000 years, the beagle’s modern breeding is credited to have taken place in Great Brit­ain around the 1830s. Their keen sense of smell makes the bea­gle a great tracker, but it’s their average-size build and gentle disposition that has made the breed a popular and favored pet.

It’s true the beagle may have a few minor annoyances. Some may complain of their constant sniffing and incessant baying. The two usually go hand in hand. Of course, with that well-developed sniffer, they’re terrible trash hounds. A beagle has yet to find a trash can it didn’t like. They’re also not the kind of dog recommended for a leisurely walk without a leash. One good whiff, and the beagle is gone. A fenced yard is a must, and even then you won’t be assured the beagle will stay put. The enticing smell of a rabbit or other small varmint can pro­duce wonders in the beagle’s digging abilities.

But setting those flaws aside, the beagle is about as perfect as a dog can be — something five families in Terry can attest to.


 Making their entrance

On Dec. 29, 2010, beagle parents Mylie and Murphy wel­comed six puppies into the world — four males and two females. According to the pair’s owner, Dawnya Kirkpatrick, 4-year-old Mylie proved to be an attentive and caring mother.

Dawnya was not only surprised at the number of pups pro­duced in Mylie’s first litter, but how quickly they were adopted in Terry.

“I still have a list of 11 people,” Dawnya admitted, referring to those interested in buying the pure-bred puppies. “I really thought we’d have to go out of town and advertise in Miles City.”

Word got out quickly and within two weeks, five of the pup­pies had definite homes in Terry. Two families backed out on buying one of the male puppies, earning him the unflattering nickname, “Homeless.” Soon, though, “Homeless” was renamed “Bentley” and, after Dawnya took him on a trip to watch a Miles Community College Pioneers basketball game in Miles City, he was quickly adopted there.

By the puppies’ six-weeks birthdays, families were stopping at the Kirkpatrick home to claim them.

Buster, originally the biggest of the litter, was adopted by Greg and Jody Huber, a couple with three children. Although the children, ages 7 and younger, adored their new addition, the feline element in the home had some adjusting to do.

    “The cats are getting a little bit better,” Jody shared.

    She admitted the cats had relegated themselves to the base­ment quarters of the family’s home.

   “They don’t come upstairs anymore,” she smiled.

   But for the couple’s oldest son, Buster has been a godsend.

   “Shawn just loves him,” Jody said. “It’s just been so good for him.”

   Chloe was welcomed into the home of Lucinda Plaisted, a woman who offered a quiet dwelling free of other pets. As the smallest of the litter, Chloe is doted on and affectionately referred to as “dainty.”

    Even decorated Vietnam War Veteran Jim Burdette, who recently moved to Terry after retiring from a 38-year career in law enforcement and corrections, softens when he speaks of his new beagle, Cash.

   “I love him to death,” Jim shared.

 Jim and his wife, Sharyn, are not new to pets. In a home that includes one cantankerous cockatoo named Sybill, two cocka­tiels — Pee Wee and Bones — a Senegal parrot called Peanut, an old black cat and Annie the basset hound, adding a beagle pup to the mix might not be a decision most would make.

“My husband always wanted a beagle,” Sharyn explained.

Playing with Cash has been added to Jim’s list of hobbies, which includes activities like painting, metal detecting and col­lecting guns.

Lemon-colored Cinder was adopted into the home of Jared and Patricia Davis and their three children. Cinder joined an English springer spaniel named Wiggle-butt.

And Cinder’s brother Oliver ... well, he was adopted into my home. He joined joins three rambunctious boys — and two aloof felines. Oliver was welcomed into our arms and laps, as well as into the beds, couches and corners of our home.

Inspiration for story

Oliver was actually the inspiration for this story. His uncon­ditional love has unwittingly produced an enormous amount of joy in our family, and his happy-go-lucky beagle nature is an everyday encouragement. It’s true — he’s just a dog — a flop­py-eared, long-nosed hound dog. But my, the lessons we can learn from a dog, especially a beagle. Such as:

    • Trust your initial senses — they’re usually dead on.

    • Lavish your loved ones with affection, even if it’s a little sloppy.

    • Howl when the sensation to do so hits you — who cares what the neighbors think?

    Maybe my dad was right: The last thing my budget needed was the additional expense of caring for one more being. But what he might have forgotten is the added benefit sometimes only a dog can give — healing love. 

Published in September issue of Montana Best Times

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