The place: Atco, New Jersey. I know–where? We totally had to Googlemap it, use the GPS, and then still ask a man driving a snow tractor for directions.

We were looking for the New Jersey branch of SOS Beagle Rescue, Inc., the organization I told you about that rescues abandoned beagles in Tennessee, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and here, deep in the heart of southern NJ. We’d followed all manner of online, tech, and human directions, and now we were facing a dead-end full of lovely homes.

“Where’s the shelter?” The Hubbins asked. (A quick aside: The day I’d told The Hubbins that we had to rent a car to make a two-hour drive to get a beagle from Tennessee was the same day he’d had to cut a hole in our bedroom ceiling because it was flooding. And all he said was, “Okay.” That’s just one of the many, multitudinous reasons I love this man.) “I think that’s it,” I said, pointing at a house that had a large flag of a beagle flapping in the wintery breeze.

This is who greeted us:

This was Bob, our Beagle Ambassador. He’s one of the beagles who lives with Linda, the woman who runs the NJ branch of SOS Beagles. Linda had about ten beagles up for adoption that weekend, many of them who’d just ridden the Beagle Bus up from Tennessee.

“The ones from down south are mostly failed hunters,” Linda explained. “If they don’t bring in enough rabbits, they either get abandoned or shot.” I pray for people, I really do.

Linda introduced us to Stella, Janice, Tanner, and the whole Southern gang of beagles. One of the ones who came running up to meet us, albeit a little shyly, was Bella. When I sat down, she placed half her body in my lap and promptly went to sleep. Hey, if I’d travelled about 750 miles the night before, I’d probably fall asleep in a stranger’s lap too. However, in my dog-addled state, I took it as a sign that she liked me.

And if I’d traveled 750 miles by Beagle Bus in a crate, probably the last thing I’d want to do is…get back in a crate and into another car. Yet Bella did this without complaint, either because she’s a really good dog or because she was just too exhausted to protest.

So, this is who went home with us:

To be continued…