First, I thought it might be a snapping turtle.Then, perhaps a large toad. Either one could have caused major drama in the life of Lilly the beagle up at the lake. Nope. Turn’s out it was just a very large, very ticked-off, June bug she was pestering.
I watched as she sniffed, then pawed, at the insect. She pounced and grabbed the beetle only to spit it out immediately. Even beagles must have limits where eating live, crawly things are concerned. She sat very still in the grass with her long ears drooping in front of her, sizing up the situation. She sighed. She let loose a couple of half-hearted ROO’s and gave the bug one last slap for good measure before proceeding to roll on top of it. A final attempt to eat the bug that she thought she’d crushed but didn’t ended with a sneeze (from the beagle, not the beetle) and the bug scurrying as fast as a beetle that has endured a beagle attack can scurry.
Okay, so Lilly is a terrible predator, I’ll admit it. She is the embarrassing result of generations of hounds who were bred to show hunters on horseback where the foxes and bunnies were hiding. It is not in her D.N.A. to actually capture anyone herself. When it comes to beagles, there’s a whole lot of ROO-ing and not a lot of DO-ing when it comes to hunting.
Our place where the river meets the lake is ready for one more summer. This will be its seventieth year. As I was getting rid of old paperwork up there this weekend, I came across another pile of old black and white photographs. For reserved, camera-shy, Scandinavians, my people certainly took their share of pictures back when the place was new. In addition to pictures of chubby baby cousins in sun suits and straight-backed women squinting into the sun with their closed fists on their hips (the way women in my family tend to stand) there were dogs in many of the grainy photos. Hunting dogs. Puppies and some gray-faced ones, too. Lake dogs who spent their happy lives retrieving ducks and rolling in dead pickerel, not June bugs. Fine, faithful, companions who waited patiently while old men pulled grape-sized wood ticks off their necks instead of yelping and trying to wriggle away, like Lilly does.
Our June bug terrorist doesn’t know it yet, but tonight she is going to be sitting for a tick inspection. And then she will get a bath because, well, insects aren’t the only things she rolled in up at the lake. Then, our tired little not-a-hunting-dog will go to bed.
Where she will, no doubt, dream of June bugs yet to hunt.