One week with The Adorables, beagles rescued from a research lab

Moxie pulls Huck's ear

The beagles we adopted a week ago are settling in to life in the city and outside an institution (they’re originally from a research lab). As they get more comfortable, they display their personality–and what seem like nasty habits they picked up in prison yard. They’re also learning about the confusing world–of stairs, toys, bones, names, housetraining and people who shout out BEAGLE! and want to say hi.

As they show us who they are, we realized the 2-year-old girl needed a stronger name than her original Pop (for the Popcorn Park Zoo where we got her).  She’s now Moxie. When they’re comfortable at home, they’ll both grab each other by the ears and rassle. Moxie dominates; she humps Huck and, if that isn’t bad enough, bites his back, hard enough to pull out fur. I expect her to pull out a shiv next.

They mastered the stairs after a few days, but both are terrified of buses, fire trucks and street sweepers. Moxie has learned to distinguish between New York’s busy avenues and quieter streets. She sometimes just lies down, something my dog Jolly did when he first moved here after two years at Mighty Mutts. But if a dog comes by–the bigger, the better–she’ll snap out of it. Sometimes the ball I now carry works, too.

Huckleberry is less worried and more flirty. If a woman stops to say hi, he’ll climb over or under Moxie to get some love. Because of Huck’s charm, our history with Jolly and the spectacle of two beagles, these two are becoming quite well known in the East Village. We keep running into people who say they’ve heard about us and the beagles. We certainly feel like we’ve told their story 100 times. Because of my handsome Jolly, I’m used to getting dog compliments on the street. Beagles just melt people. New Yorkers suffer from a kind of dog breed Tourette’s syndrome and just shout out BEAGLE! when they pass.

They both get the idea of toys; they’re having a harder time distinguishing non-toys that aren’t supposed to be chewed. I talked with a wonderful woman on Facebook, Jeannie, who adopted a border collie now known as Grace. Jeannie had to leave lights and TV on at first to get Grace to go to sleep. She is picking up rawhides in bulk because it’s as if Grace, who is about seven, is teething.

Huck and Moxie are a lot like puppies. They certainly greet other dogs a little too enthusiastically. They are learning their names. Moxie has had no exposure to manners has no qualms about jumping up and eating food directly off my plate. They are learning housetraining; we had a three day streak going, but there was an accident yesterday. Best of all, they cartoonishly play and romp once they’re comfortable.

They’ve clearly never heard of bones and rawhides. These items are so fantastically delicious they provoked a fight between these two close friends. For Moxie, it isn’t enough that she has a delicious treat; Huck has to not have one. I’ll have to much more carefully manage bone dispersal and convince them that these amazing items are not the only ones of their kind. We’re keeping the existence of meat a secret for now.

We’re doing tethering exercises and crate training to ward off separation anxiety, which shelter dogs are especially vulnerable to. Sometimes they wiggle and wag behind a gate as I approach. I anticipate a great greeting. And then I open the gate and they run right past me.

I wish I knew what the other 200 beagles from the lab are doing and what works for them.

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