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   The Truth About The Beagle

April 9, 2003


Ralph the Beagle is an original piece of work by Canadian cartoonist Ron Leishman .

Order a Beagle t-shirt with Ralph in full color. Check it out.

There is no denying the Beagle's popularity. A stunning 50,000 Beagles are registered each year just in the U.S., making it the fifth most popular dog according to the American Kennel Club.

The Beagle is one adorable dog with its eternal puppyish looks, large eyes, compact body, and purse-sized hound ears. It is a natural for the visual media. In fact, the Beagle holds the national record for the most frequent appearance of a breed on posters, greeting cards, and calendars.

Dog lovers who select Beagles as their breed fall into two groups. The first set recognizes that this breed is a hound, a group of dogs known for receiving 99 percent of their input from their nose and, when given any opportunity, for following that input wherever it leads. They chuckle over their dog's selective hearing, stubbornness, and natural ability to clown their way out of trouble.

The second group of Beagle owners, on the other hand, forgot to consider that this breed was developed to hunt in a pack which requires a strong desire to chase small wild things at a distance from a hunter. They just thought the small-to-medium size, wash-and-wear coat, and gregarious natures would be a good fit for the family. Now they spend a great deal of time at work hoping that the gate was closed.

It is interesting to note that the Beagle turns up almost as frequently in the print media as it does on a Hallmark card. Rather than just tell you about the Beagle, I have clipped the following articles highlighting this breed from a variety of magazines and tabloid newspapers. For each I have provided a brief synopsis of the text with occasional editorial comments that cannot be repressed. I have clustered the articles to highlight the three distinct aspects of the Beagle:


Scientists Find Beagle Gene For Zooms
Tufts Veterinary Journal—In Corgis, this activity is called Frequent Random Acts of Play or FRAP. For Beagles, it simply called the zooms. This is the action of racing around in a wide circle as fast as possible. Scientists at Tufts Veterinary School report that they have identified the gene that causes many Beagles to run around a tree or yard as if their life depended on it. Tufts has received a number of letters asking whether they do not have more important work to do. An official spokesperson said that they didn't.

Beagle Horrified To Learn Truth About Obedience Trials
Front and Finish—Like many well-trained dogs, Lulu was trained in her obedience commands receiving food as a reward. At her first obedience trial this past weekend, she was horrified to learn that no treats were forthcoming until she had performed every single thing she knew. On the second day of the trial, when the time came for the recall, she decided to voice her opinion about this sad situation by leaving the ring and climbing into the lap of a complete stranger.

Beagle Sets Record For Distractions During Agility Run
Clean Run—A northern California Beagle recently set a new record in American Kennel Club agility when he wandered off the course 42 times to sniff. It would appear that he considered the obstacles as something in the way of a nice walk. Although this pup should have been whistled off the course, both ring crew and judge dozed off, leaving this pup to ignore his handler while she yelled his name repeatedly. Eventually, both dog and owner wandered off to the hot dog stand for lunch and the trial continued.

Fox Television Defends Airing Of "When Beagles Attack"
TV Guide—A Fox spokesperson defended their upcoming special that highlights the revolt of a colony of Beagles being held captive as experimental animals. The spokesman said that producers felt that while they might have maligned the Beagles' docile and adaptable nature, the show would serve to highlight the plight of many animals in research centers.

Deaf Beagle Learns Sign Language
Dog and Kennel—The Beagle is known for great yips and resounding bays when onto any sort of promising scent. This is a lovely sound in the field. However, it is less attractive in the suburban neighborhood. This situation is even worse for an aging Beagle who has lost hearing and imagines that he hears scary sounds that call for some noise. The owner of this old fellow, reports that she has taught him a variety of sign language phrases such as "Shut up or I will stuff a rabbit up your nose."



Beagles Prove Ideal As Sniffer Dogs At Airports
Beagles have become the primary breed in the effort to find contraband in shipped items. The Beagle has agreed to this work for two reasons:

Beagle Hired As Blanket Quality Control Tester
A Beagle has crossed the threshold into a new career field, hired to test the quality of wood blankets at a large plant in the Northeast. This decision was based on two factors:

Termite Dogs Unionize
Teamsters International-Beagles that have been trained to sniff out termites in wooden structures, have joined the Teamsters Union. Beagles have grown increasingly concerned about the lack of positive reinforcement for their work. Teamsters Officials said that they will seek 6% raise for Beagles this year and hoped a work stoppage would be avoidable.


To Beagle Or Not To Beagle
The American Beagler-This article was written for an audience of Beagle owners who keep their pups primarily as pets. It provides information and encouragement to get off their duffs and join the subculture that flourishes around hunting with Beagles, an activity with more than five hundred years of history.

So what in the world does it mean To Beagle? Beagling, in its simplest sense, means assembling a group of this breed and allowing them to do what they do naturally - chase hare or rabbits as a pack. They can do this in a pair that is called a brace, in small packs of four to nine dogs, or in large packs with 30-60 dogs. The author states that there were more than five hundred opportunities to Beagle last year at licensed activities at which Beaglers came together.

The article ended with a list of strategies for Beagle owners to locate regional Beagling activities and the caution that Beagle owners must recognize and accept the breed's heritage as a pack hunting hound or be forever out of sync with their pup.

Pair Of Beagles Set Incredible Record For Failure To Move
Better Beagling International-In a recent record, two beagles worked an area the size of a postage stamp for over four hours. This brace made it clear that they would rather talk between themselves about the rabbit that might have been there than do any serious running.


Beagling Crowd Turns Out To Watch Local Rabbit Hunt
North Gap Sentinel—
It was a lovely day in North Gap, Georgia for the annual Beagle Trial. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, hares tend to circle bringing the dogs behind. Thus one can go Beagling, sit in one spot all day, and see the dogs go by multiple times. Noted Beagler Liam Thom writes, "If the hare, hounds, and huntsman have all read the script correctly then the well-situated follower can witness the day's sport from the safety of his shooting stick." On this particular day in North Gap, things went perfectly and the Beagles came by 32 times. One spectator who was attending his first trial said, "This Beagling is like a day at the car races without all the noise."

Fall Line Of Clothing For Beaglers Shows Few Changes
Fashion and Style—The fall line of plaid wool jackets and baseball caps with truck logos was rolled out in New York. The more formal wear often worn by the hunt staff, white pants, dark jackets with whip and trumpet were also shown. Lines were simple, clean, and traditional. The only notable change is that whips will be available in a variety of designer colors.

Decline In Local Hare Population Concerns Beaglers
Cotswolds Beagling Club—Beaglers are noted for their understanding of the subtle distinction between different kinds of rabbits — hares that like to run, cottontails that prefer to dive into their den, and swamp rabbits who just want to avoid the jaws of alligators. Recently, Beaglers around the world have been concerned that hare populations in many countries are declining. This, along with the fact that Millicent Woodcock was just named the Drag Hunt Secretary, sounded like a good reason to drop in for a draught at the local Hare and Hound.

In Conclusion

Most breeds of dogs are just that — a specific type of dog. Beagles, however, are a mindset, and for some, a lifestyle. Once one owns a Beagle, there is the eternal possibility of becoming a Beagler who goes Beagling. In fact, I would not be the least bit surprised to stumble upon the word conjugated as a verb: I Beagle, You Beagle, They Really Beagle.

I must confess that I was initially jealous of the Beagle world in which there is a possibility of such personal identification. However, as a Papillioner, I realized that it was up to me to correct this situation. I loaded my pups in the car and took off to go Papilloning.

I would like to thank three Beaglers who sent me stories about their pups. Dog kisses to Shari Kolding, Rachel Harris, Casey Haynes, and Sharon Harper who kept continuous pressure on Laughing Dog to "review" the Beagle.. In addition, I have drawn on three excellent books: The New Beagle by Judith Musladin MD et al., The Beagle by Richard Roth, and Beagles Today by Andrew Brace. Lastly, the following website is a wealth of information:



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