From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul


Our beagle, Samantha, was a real clown. She kept us laughing all the time, making it hard to scold her when she got into mischief. That dog had us wrapped around her finger—or should I say paw?

Samantha was really my husband Al’s dog, or more accurately, he was her human. I was the one who fed her, walked her and took care of her, but as far as Samantha was concerned, the sun rose and set on Al. She adored him. The feeling was mutual; when she gave him that soft beagle “googly-eyed look,” he melted.

We lived in a place called Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, three hundred miles from the Arctic Circle. Al was in the army and away a lot. I managed on my own and was thankful for good friends, an enjoyable working environment and, especially, Samantha to keep me warm at night. She would crawl under the blankets and curl around my feet—what bliss.

It had been a long arctic winter and Samantha had waited patiently for the sunshine and warm weather to come and was raring to get out and about. A typical hound, she loved running, chasing rabbits and squirrels, and swimming in the lake. When the first warm day of spring finally arrived that year and we went out for a walk, in her exuberance, Samantha overdid it—running at top speed over the rocks that are the landscape in Yellowknife. By the time we reached the house, she was limping quite pronouncedly and appeared to be in significant pain. Her injury was diagnosed as sprained ligaments, and she was ordered to keep still: no running for several weeks. It was not welcome news for this beagle. Now she was confined to the porch while I was away at work, and then took short, quiet walks on a leash when I was home. As the weeks passed, her limp slowly but surely diminished; I was pleased with her progress.

During that period, Al was away from Monday to Friday. On his return Friday evenings, there were hugs and kisses all around, and Samantha would be plastered to his lap. She followed him everywhere all weekend, lapping up the attention she received because of her “hurtie.” It was clear to me that her limp became even more pronounced when Al was home.

By the end of the summer her leg was all healed and she was back to normal. She ran and played and chased her ball for hours on end—during the week. When Al came home, her hurtie mysteriously came back, and she was placed on the sofa for the weekend with lots of hugs, a blanket and treats.

I told Al that this was just an act for his attention. “Of course it isn’t,” he said. “Can’t you see her leg is still bothering her? How come it’s not healing like the vet said it would?”

I sighed but let it drop.

The following weekend when Al returned, Samantha’s limp was as bad as ever. Friday and Saturday, Al pampered his little injured princess while I tried not to roll my eyes.

Like most people, Al and I love to sleep in and snuggle on Sunday morning. We chat about the events of the past week, reload our coffee cups, chat some more, nap and generally laze around. Samantha lies at the bottom of the bed enjoying this special time as well. Eventually, we get up, shower and head to the kitchen to start making breakfast. It was our routine to cook an egg for Samantha, too. She usually waited on the bed until it was ready and we called her to come and eat. That morning when breakfast was ready, Al started down the hall, intending to lift Samantha off the bed and carry her into the kitchen because of her hurtie.

“No,” I told him. “Stand where she can’t see you and watch what happens next.”

I called Samantha. We heard her jump off the bed and run down the hall. She was running like there was no tomorrow, and surprise, no hurtie—until she saw Al. She stopped on a dime and immediately began limping. We watched as she took a few steps. You could see the wheels turning in her beagle brain: Was it this leg or the other? Then she started limping on the other leg. Caught in the act!

Al and I laughed, both at Samantha and at each other, over what we called the Academy Award performance of the summer. In Hollywood, Samantha would have been given an award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role.” Instead, we wrote, “The Best Beagle in the Northwest Territories Award” on a piece of paper and gave it to her. She seemed so proud of her performance and the award. Actually, we knew that she was the only beagle in the Northwest Territories, but we didn’t tell her—we didn’t want to spoil the magic.

Lynn Alcock

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