I thought about writing of my pleasant evening, or of the beautiful New England snow day felt today. The snow was white, fluffy, and falling softly since the early morning. As my mother returned home from a long shift at the hospital, the house was settling in.

Except for one family member, our beefy baby beagle, Tessie. Tessie is a little bit of a chunkster, her kitchen table gaze is hard for certain family members to resist. She’s a bit spoiled and a lot sassy.

When Tessie takes you for a walk – yes, you read that right – you go wherever she wants to go. Our first couple months with baby Tess we tried to use a collar leash, but she insisted on pulling the leash to the limit and basically derive herself of oxygen just so she could sniff another inch ahead.

Safe to say she is certainly a beagle, and she thinks with her nose.

I’ve been taking Tessie on long walks around midday where I speak to her for the length of the walk. She has started to learn what I’m saying and trusts my commands. This is a huge feat for me because this determined pup rarely listened and needed all types of encouragement.

I’m sure these tips aren’t out of the ordinary, but I really only thought training worked via reward. We tried that for a long time with small and low calorie treats, but it didn’t seem to work – she became fixated on the treat and exhibited bad behaviors to earn them.

Tessie is a bit of a badass. She is the resident heist master and will trick you to her benefit if she gets the chance. My girlfriend fell victim to a Houdini scenario acted out by our sly beagle.

My parents had ordered pizza and my girlfriend and I had just returned home. We sat at the table to eat when I realized I left my water in the car. As I went out the door to get it, I glanced into the living room and saw Tessie standing there, with a gleam in her eye and a sock hanging out of her mouth. She wasn’t trying to eat the sock, instead she gripped it like a bone and wasn’t going to give it up without a fight.

I stared at her for a second, seeing if she would try to initiate a chase (that way she could tire me out and get me to give her a treat as ransom). I said, “I’ll be back for you.” implying I would give chase and not give up.

Strangely, she winked.

Tessie winks and does it at strange emotional times. She must be in tune with our emotions.

I went out to the car to grab my water, this takes about a minute. Tessie has 60 seconds to make her move. She floats into the kitchen innocently.

My girlfriend is not fully accustomed to Tessie’s evil side yet. She is still in the phase that my family was one year into having her. Tessie strolls over to my lovely girlfriend and makes subtle eye contact. My girlfriend would later testify that Tessie appeared bashful and willing to give up the sock.

My girlfriend said, “Oh thank you, Tessie!” before getting up to give the sock back to my parents. While she left the table, she did not know to push her chair in (to her defense she has a very well trained dog). Tessie leapt up onto her chair and snatched the piece of pizza right of my girlfriends plate!

My girlfriend returned and shrieked at the sight of our cute little Tessie munching away on her pizza.

Quickly, back up arrived and informed our victim that, “Oh, she does that.”

Does this paint the picture of our precious beagle? If you have one, you’ll likely have a similar story.

This big personality pup of mine has gotten very close to me in this quarantine. While at school, I didn’t get to interact with her as much as I used to.

With Covid, work from home, and online school I get to spend most of my days with her.

So tonight with this beautiful weather, I set out on a stroll with my K9 best friend and enjoyed the weather. I emerged into the night triple layered with my thick winter coat, a beanie, hood on, glasses, and Nike sneakers.

I hadn’t thought to change into boots and felt it immediately. The snow had reached about three inches and my sneakers weren’t built for it. It was cold but not freezing and I was comfortable enough. We marched through, making our own set of tracks.

Tessie, always the line leader, led the way nose down through the snow. We tackled the perimeter of the parking lot quickly and continued up the little hill into the upper parking lot.

Awaiting was a beautiful, lightly disturbed layer of snow. You could see light tire tracks, but not much which gave the scene a sense of peace.

Tessie and I continued through the snow. She kept burying her head in the snow, sniffing rapidly. It is remarkable to watch this dog act in a machinelike manner.

Tessie will march along the perimeter nose to the ground sniffing and searching. She will not lift her head off the ground unless she is scanning the area. She will jump and look into my eyes for reassurance if a car barrels by or if there is a loud noise and she is startled.

A dogs trust in their human is incredible. What might be a typically dangerous behavior for an animal (Tessie is often unaware if another animal runs by and is 100% devoted to sniffing), Tessie does peacefully and naturally.

The love and trust between a family and their dog is one of the greatest loves in life.

While Tessie is in her machinelike state, it is obvious to sense she is looking for something. I don’t know if she knows something is in the distance or if by coincidence there is always a piece of trash somewhere along the road, but she will always find it.

She won’t always take the trash with her, but during the warm weather she loves to bring sticks home. We have a whole pile sitting on the porch that she builds up for herself. I’m curious what other quirks there are that dogs have. Tonight, she dug up a plastic water bottle and proudly pranced all the way home with it.

These behaviors are so human in a way. Is this something bred into dogs? Could it be the learned desire to find sticks for their owners fire or game for food?

I recently grew curious about the different types of dog species such as wolves and other wild dogs. I read through the Wikipedia on domesticated dogs and realized I’d never thought much about the history of dogs. In modern society, they’re pets you take care of with the exception of hunting and racing bred dogs.

You don’t think much more of these helpless without us animals. We have bred and domesticated these creatures into the way they are now. How much has changed in the way they act? Have they advanced as much as us?

Surely, living alongside the human race has led to some benefits of the dog, right? Or has the dog always shaped to the owner? When dogs were first used they were primarily used for work. Herding animals, hunting game, or performing other tasks.

Did we grow to love them more and more as time went on? Did we begin to appreciate the work dogs do and treat them as if a member of a family as we do now?

Or has the bond between human and dog always been the same. Do we love dogs more now or the same as then? I’d be curious to dig into finding accounts of early dog training and ownership.

Walking through the snow would not be as beautiful without my dog. Tessie brings life to every moment and defines the scenery. She brings me closer to nature through watching her. We don’t know what it’s like to be natural anymore, not since the Industrial Revolution. Pets bring us much closer to life and nature. My dog Tessie is a special dog and I’m happy to be one of her humans.

The hilltop with a fresh cover of snow

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went..”

Will Rogers

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