We met Annie on September 28th, 2003. We had gone with Bella to visit an eight year old beagle we were considering adopting to be Bella's companion. Bella was a spry eight, whereas the eight year old beagle we met was an old, old, slow, chubby eight year old beagle. We feared Bella would run over the other beagle, so let the foster mother know we wouldn't be taking him. "Wait," she said. "I have another beagle arriving shortly. Maybe she'll be more your style." So, we waited. And not very long.
As we started walking back to our car, a small girl was dragged around the house by a large, tri-color beagle with ears that were flap, flap, flapping, a giant grin on her face. She pulled that little girl up the sidewalk, up the stairs and sat on the front porch, happy as a clam.
"Huh. That could be Annie."
We took her for a walk around the block. Neither she nor Bella nipped at each other. They seemed to ignore each other, both sniffing away, so we let the foster mom know we'd like to adopt her. We then learned some of her history.
We would be Annie's third home in six weeks, though, the last one, the foster mother let us know, wasn't a good fit: even with a choke collar, the six year old girl walking Annie couldn't handle her, what were the parents thinking?
Annie had been a marathon runner's training companion, so could, and would, run long distances. Both Kris and I were confused by that part of Annie's history: why would you pick a beagle with short legs for a running companion over a larger dog? Oh, boy, did we learn better about this beagle.
Annie was large for a beagle. She was shaped well, but her fighting weight was 35 pounds (too big to be picked up, she wasn't my kitty cat), and she stood taller than 15" at the shoulders. Oh, she would not be a show dog, as we learned with her injuries over the years. She rarely howled, expect when a blimp passes overhead. Her coat was a fascinating wiry coat that was totally wash-and-wear. I think I bathed her maybe three times in her ten years with us, where Bella had a bath nearly every month.
Annie's favorite passtime was licking. Her air-lick was world famous. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Good lord, dog, stop the licking. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Lick, lick, lick. Stop with the non-stop licking!
Oh, boy, was Annie a smart little doggie. She used her paws as hands. We watched her open a peanut butter jar using her paws to hold the jar, and her teeth in the lid ridges, to twist open the lid. Of course, she ate all the peanut butter in the jar after that.
She figured out that by pushing hard enough on the door to the guest room, she could open the door enough to slip into the FORBIDDEN ROOM. Where, of course, she'd get stuck, but that was her way, the stubborn little doggie. She wanted things her way, in the forbidden room, on the forbidden bed, on top of the forbidden beagle Bella.
Annie was constantly surprising me. She knew how to run with a scooter, in front and off to one side, and staying in front and on the one side, unlike the stinky doggie, who thought running back and forth in front of the scooter at strangely slow speeds was just the right thing to do. Annie also loved running next to a bike, which we found out only in the past two years, when I rode my mountain bike next to her and Kris walking. She howled until I took her leash. She trotted gracefully around the block next to me on the bike.
Annie used her smarts well, and often in hedonistic ways. She soon became Demon Dog, as named by Kevin and Libby when they were watching Annie, returned home, and found her on top of their dining room table, surveying the room for the next batch of food she could score.
She later progressed to Bannie (bad + Annie) with her non-stop, food-addiction, bad behaviour. Take, for example, her first trip to the emergency vet.
As a wedding gift, we received four pounds of exquisite chocolate with a $100 bill inside. We didn't know there was chocolate in the pile of gifts sitting next to the fireplace. Annie did. When we returned home from an evening out, the living room floor was scattered with gift wrapping and strange wrappers. We found the card, called Kate, asked her if she had given us food. "Yes! Four pounds of chocolate! It's amazing!"
The vet later told us he had never seen a dog vomit up as much chocolate as our beagle had just done, two hours later.
We never did find the $100 bill.
For Kris' 30th birthday, when we were out at dinner, Annie pulled a casserole dish off the counter to get to the remaining lasagna in the dish. The dish shattered on impact with the floor, making shards of ceramic all over the kitchen. Annie didn't seem to mind that her feet were cut and her tongue was a bloody mess and she bled all over the entire kitchen, oh that lasagna was soooooooo sooooooooooooo tasty.
We did find out, a year later, that, when left alone, Annie would, yes actually would, stop after eating about half of a full bag of dog food. That's half of a 40 pound bag of dog food. The dog weighed only 35 pounds. Yes, that was another trip to the emergency vet for yet another make-the-beagle-vomit evening of fun.
Don't even get me started about the strawberries, peaches and the apples. Oh, god, the apples. Did I mention Annie was smart? Yeah, she'd eat the Fuji apples: the Granny Smith were too tart (good girl, Annie, smart dog!).
Annie was always bolting from the house when the front door was left over. Oh, the merry chase we'd have, running after her all around the neighborhood. I'm 100% sure she was thinking "Whee!"
On our first trip to Water Dog Lake, Kris took Bella and I took Annie. We walked up a ways. When we were far enough along the trail, I let Annie off-leash. She bolted into some bushes on the right of the trail. I told Kris to go on up the trail with Bella, we'd catch up. I waited for that dog to come out of the bush, but she wouldn't. I feared the dog would escape on the uphill side of the bushes, so I climbed up to the top of them and waited. And waited. She didn't arrive, so I climbed down and waited. And waited. I couldn't flush the dog, she didn't respond to her name, I was completely frustrated. After 20 minutes, I gave up and started stomping up the trail. Kris was coming back down with Bella, confused where we had gone. "That dog is still in the bushes. YOU get her out," I responded, grabbing Bella's leash from him. I immediately understood why Annie had three owners in six weeks.
Subsequent times at Water Dog Lake were much better. We had one adventure where Kris was on one side of the lake with Annie, and I was on the other side. When I called to her, she looked for me, spotted me, took four hard strides and bounded over the lake in three steps on her way to me. It was a sight to behold. I think Kris' eyes were as wide as my head after that feat.
Annie loved to run. She loved to be moving. She had this funny start, totally cartoonish, where she'd lean way back, then rush forward. Yeah, actually, her starts were hysterical.
Because she was a bigger beagle, she managed to squeek just over the minimum weight for Smiling Dogs, an off-leash, full day, dog playing on a 750 acre playgrground, er coastal ranch park. If you have a high-energy dog over 25 pounds, I cannot recommend their service enough. Annie would jump into the doggie van in the morning and flop out in the evening, and come back fully exhausted and incredibly happy. The idea of Smilin' Dogs is that a walker goes out on a 5.5 mile loop with a pack of dogs who run off-leash, nominally with the walker. Nominally, because Annie frequently walked with the next or previous group. She knew to come back, always come back, there's a treat in the van and home at the end of the ride, but did she ever push the boundaries of that arrangement.
Eventually, she wore out her hip and we had to cancel the all-day hikes. That was a sad day. She loved those hikes.
She also loved hanging out and going for hikes with Andy, Blue and Shadow. Oh, boy, the hikes with the three of them were always the most fun!
Mission Peak is one of the hikes that stands out in my mind. We let Annie off-leash after we knew she wouldn't turn around and bolt out of the park. We started walking up the switchbacks of the mountain face, letting the dogs run around as they wanted to. We quickly lost Annie, but didn't worry about it much until we arrived at a gate that she wouldn't be able to get through without us. We turned around to look for her, and eventually spotted her. She was a small dot moving up the switchbacks, checking out each group of people on her way up: "Are you my family? No. Are you my family? No. Are you my family? No." I called out to her, and she perked up, ears twitching, then turned to look up the hill. Kris and I called out to her, and screw those switchbacks, she sprinted straight up the hill to us, happy as can be.
She wasn't done with her surprises that day. We lost her again after we started descending the peak on the far side. And by, "lost her," I mean more like Andy asking, "Is that your dog?" pointing to a tiny speck about a mile away from us in the high plain. "Yup," as we kept walking.
She caught up.
Caught up and kept running. That was the day of one more squirrel, just one more. She was so tired she couldn't walk straight, she kept falling over. As she fell over, she'd see a ground squirrel in the distance, straighten, and try running for one more. Just one more squirrel.
Fort Funston with Andy, Blue and Shadow was also a favorite. She would run down the hill from the parking lot, hit the beach and ZOOM to the left, ZOOM to the right, ZOOM back to the left, ZOOM back to the right, LOOK AT ME! ZOOM!
None of us ever grew tired of Fort Funtown.
Annie hated the vets. She had the worst anal sacks. What, you may ask, are anal sacs? Yeah, before Annie, I didn't know about them either. Dogs have scent glands in their butts. Annie's were always full, and she was always licking her butt (then, of course, trying to kiss you with her licks). I didn't particularly want to learn how to express the sacs, so Annie visited the vets nearly every six weeks: nail trim and butt express.
Annie had three techniques for combatting the vets. They were: butt firmly in the corner, wet noodle, and HOWL! Upon arriving in the back room of the vet's office, boom, butt in corner. If she was approached by not-Kris and not-me, she'd go totally limp and wet noodle the vet tech trying to pick her up. When she was in the back, getting those sacs expressed or nails trimmed or fluids added, oh boy did the WHOLE OFFICE KNOW IT. You could hear her at the Starbucks, two doors down.
Blimps and vets. Those were howling triggers.
This is the last picture we have of Annie:
She was a good looking dog.
As anyone can probably tell by reading the Annie posts here, I didn't like Annie in those first years. Kris did, and parried every attempt I made to get rid of the dog. I'm glad he did. He loved her. Eventually I understood why, and, yes, also eventually loved that annoying, butt-licking, stupid, smart dog. We'll miss her.
I'll miss her a lot.
I'll miss her bunches.