Three weeks ago, The Hubbins and I adopted a Bella, a beagle who’d been abandoned in Tennessee. Around that time, I was hell-bent on adopting a dog, and our experience with our neighbors’ beagle, the petite and charming Isabel, prompted me to find a pup of almost the same size, temperament, and even name. Holy doppelganger, Batman.

I can’t even remember why I needed to get a dog so badly, especially now, when actually having one has almost driven me crazy. Not that Bella makes me insane; she’s a very well-behaved dog. But I’m used to having cats, among the lowest-maintenance creatures on the planet. You open the can, they eat, and then they sleep for the rest of the day–until the other can is opened. Then they rub up against you, purr, and go back to sleep.

The dog, though, required almost constant maintenance at first. Where was she? What was she chewing/eating/destroying? Did she know that we were going outside for a reason other than stretching her beagle bones and taking in the air? Did she understand my point about rugs being decorative and not functional (ie, a rather large beige toilet)? Did she realize that I was begrudging her chicken bones because they might cause her serious internal damage, and not because I was just being a puppy party pooper? She most definitely not get the fact that whatever she found on the street was edible. She looked very confused when I repeatedly pulled whatever thing–sometimes identifiable as food, sometimes completely unidentifiable–out of her mouth.

And yet, three weeks and many walks later, I’m slowly learning that Bella is a teacher. While I’m busy rehashing the past, chewing it the way Bella attacks her Nylabone, and forecasting the future with nearly zero accuracy, Bella is very much in the moment. She brings me back to the present, this little flappy-eared Eckhart Tolle, by snacking on street yucks; either I pay attention, or I pay for a trip to the vet for emergency chicken bone extraction.

Unlike me, Bella does not spend her days fretting. Witness a week in the life of a beagle:

Striking a glam pose.

Monday.

"I refuse to give up all worldly possessions. I am a beagle, not a monk."

Tuesday.


"'Cat' bed, you say? Not when there's a dog in it. Then it's a 'dog' bed. Specifically, my bed."

Wednesday.

You get the picture(s). It looks like this for a few hours a day in between walks every day.

I’m trying to take a cue from this Zen master, who seems to have only a few desires in life–kibble, toys, a couch, and to walk without me pulling on her and constantly saying, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Go where? That’s what I realized this morning: If I’m walking Bella (or, to be more accurate, she’s walking me), is that not her walk, her time, on her terms? Where is it that I need to go? If she wants to stop and sniff the pee on the roses, shouldn’t I let her?

So, I’m learning from my little tri-color teacher. Zen master or not, though, I’m drawing the line at those chicken bones.

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