The Adorables, Week 3: Laboratory beagles not only cute, but smart

Moxie shows belly, Huck yawns

In their third week of freedom, Moxie and Huckleberry are starting to get housetraining and the good–or at least much better–life. (These two were freed after Peta effectively shut the skeevy North Carolina laboratory where they were used and abused.) They are now the Will Ferrell in Elf, naive and crazy enthusiastic about all the wonders of New York City. They chase leaves down the sidewalk, think every stick, bottlecap and discarded chicken bone is a priceless treasure and are delighted at how many people just want to be nice to them.

Some highlights from the last week:

Their fantastically emphathetic vet Dr. Jay Kuhlman pronounced them healthy and sweet. Dr. Kuhlman found that they have red, irritated skin between the pads on their paws–a consequence of the lab’s wet floor.  Huck gets interdigital cysts on one paw. Their teeth have a lot of plaque for their age, probably because they didn’t have bones to chew. Dr. Kuhlman says beagles have taught many people to be neat (though you wouldn’t know it from our chaotic apartment right now.) He says that they probably skipped a whole skipped a whole stage in their development by being bred and born into laboratory life. Peta just released the USDA inspection report, which lists exactly the symptoms Dr. Kuhlman found.

Some of the things they never learned were sniffing, peeing with a leg up, treats, bones, that metal and rocks are inedible, that other dogs don’t want to be swarmed in a greeting. Huck apparently never read any of the literature that says dogs won’t pee in their own bed or crate. It turns out that my initial joy at their picking up housetraining so quickly was misplaced. But he’s catching on. And getting over a weird phase of only going in the dog run.

Moxie is scarily smart. She not only gets housetraining, she seems to be working the system. They get a treat each time they eliminate outside. Moxie sometimes pees 10 times a day, often as little as a tablespoon. Moxie now resists walking away from our apartment. Our wonderful trainer, Garrett Rosso from Village Dogworks, has me offering her treats at set destinations on the block and in other places when she lies down in full protest mode. Moxie now will be walking along fine, then suddenly lie down–with her tail up and showing no body language of fear.

Huck constantly wants to visit Rosie, a goofy, loving dog in our building. Moxie dominates Rosie, who is four times her size. Yesterday she stole one of Rosie’s rawhides and was so proud of herself she carried it a half mile from the house. No need for treat bribery on that walk.

They both remember where they found delicious (and gross) bones weeks ago and keep checking to see if any more appear. Once you become a dog person, you realize that the streets of New York are practically paved with discarded chicken bones. They’ve never been on anything soft, so they both just love scratching their backs on the carpet (when they aren’t chewing the rug up). Huckleberry just loves running and starting a chase at the dog run. Moxie has learned to get up on the Tompkins Square Dog Run picnic tables and is so proud of herself she just goes up and down. She can jump the gate we use to keep her in the room with us. My favorite development in the last week is that Moxie, who is more aloof, jumps into my lap, curls into a ball and falls asleep.

They have become little dog celebrities of the East Village. People constantly tell us they’ve heard of these two lab refugees. They are also notorious goofballs. Moxie will refuse to move, so Huck will pounce on her and get her to play, then both will run happily.

It’s hard to imagine that just a few months ago they were just numbers in a grim lab when they are clearly so smart, so feeling, such individuals. All of it is thanks to Peta and their brave investigator. I can’t bring myself to watch more than a minute of the video she produced and she lived it for months.

The groups that helped bring the beagles to us:

Peta — a nine-month undercover investigation

In Defense of Animals — quickly dispersed the 50 cats and 200 dogs to shelters up and down the east coast

Associated Humane Societies of NJ — took 35 beagles, put Huck and Moxie together, where they became great friends

Where to Go See Goofy Dog Events that Don’t Have Anything to Do with Breeding

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