It has been a little more than eight months since we lost Bailey. His sweet face greets me any time I check my phone. Stories about his absolutely weird and special life are more often happy than sad—like that summer he would get freaked out every time the air conditioner would click on. Who knows what it was. But the click flipped him out. It took all summer for him to get used to it.
And I suppose we’ll never get used to him not being around. I wouldn’t want it any other way; I like being surrounded by the memories. But there is also a very real, physical reminder of our loss: his younger/big sister Ceili. She was there when he died and she knew he was gone, but how she would act was anybody’s guess. The day after he died, Ceili experienced vestibular syndrome. She’s recovered, and we’ll never know if it was a coincidence or a reaction to her stress and grief.
Since the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays followed in the weeks after Bailey died, she almost always had someone with her. We dragged her out on Saturdays to run errands and tried to keep this otherwise laid-back dog engaged and happy. We would stop by the vet so she could see people she knew and who loved her and get plenty of attention.
By the first of the year, it was clear she was lonely and bored and sad. We didn’t have any real plans to go out and find a new sibling, but if that’s what she wanted well, she gets what she wants. So I started looking at the local rescue organizations. She has always been the alpha, so she has a very specific type: submissive male, tiny dogs need not apply. A few looked promising, but emails went unanswered so I suppose those dogs had already been adopted.
We’d gone to one adoption event at PetSmart and she had zero interest in anyone there. But another big event was planned for Valentine’s Day weekend. It was President’s Day, which meant we’d have a three-day weekend, so in the event she met someone we would have lots of time together.
That Saturday morning, we started out at a pet store event by the house, but it was kind of a mess and some lady tried to adopt Ceili so we booked it to the big event at PetSmart. There was a big crowd, all kinds of dogs. At some point my husband began talking to a woman with a beagle (as if) and after a while he nudges for me to look down. Ceili and this beagle are sprawled out on the floor next to each other.
Ceili is very quick to let you know whether you’re ok or not. So the fact that she was lounging with this little dude was nothing short of amusing. Also because he was a beagle. I was interested in someone a little smaller, but come on. We’re lab people, beagles never crossed our mind. Especially because of the really loud one that lives next door. I don’t want to listen to that in my house. But there they were, just hanging out.
So I suggested we get out of the crowd and go outside. We walked them outside and still, no big deal. Like they had known each other forever. We hung around outside and chatted for a while, then I took both of them back inside together and walked around the store to see how that would work. After about an hour-and-a-half of this, we decided what the hell, let’s take him home and see how it works out.
That was exactly five months ago today.
The first couple of weeks were a challenge. Hell, after the first 20 minutes we got him home he darted out the carport door, and Matt had to chase him down and corner him by a fence. Thank god for all that gym-going. So obviously he’s been microchipped now. He came with the name Larry, but was soon rechristened as Watson.
There were some skirmishes, to be sure, because dominance had to be officially established, even though Watson rolls over the second he sees anybody. One thing Ceili didn’t count on was Watson actually defending himself when she tried to take his treats. She spent years taking anything that Bailey wasn’t actively chewing on, and the first time she tried that with Watson, words were exchanged.
We were told that Watson was around three years old, but after a couple of months he seems far more puppy like, and we think he’s probably closer to a year and a half. The foster mom found him in a ditch. I think he was abused and abandoned for not being a typical beagle—he would much rather roll around in the grass and nap in a patch of sunshine than hunt anything. He’s afraid of everything. He’s so scared of storms and loud noises that he doesn’t shake so much as vibrate. “That dog don’t hunt,” as the saying goes. He yelps and howls when you pick him up, probably because he thinks he’s in trouble. Maybe he got yelled at a lot, or worse. We’ll never know.
Discipline has been a challenge. And I hate the word discipline, because what I’m talking about are basic commands and behaviors. And the breed is so different than what we’re used to with labs! Bailey and Ceili never really required much training. So teaching Watson to go lay down on his bed instead of standing next to the couch staring at us while we watch a movie was a grand undertaking. Mostly because we had to do it in a way that he understood he wasn’t in trouble and it wasn’t a bad thing. It took a couple of weeks, but he got it and I think he finally understands what “good boy” means.
Watson and I bonded fairly quickly. He’s become my little shadow. He and Matt took a little longer, mostly because Matt was so concerned he would alienate Ceili. She is definitely daddy’s little girl, and he couldn’t help but overthink the whole thing. She knows how much he loves her, how much we both love her, and that Watson wasn’t here to take Bailey’s place or to steal our attention from her. But luckily Matt finally realized he could love this little guy and not make Ceili feel like she was second place. I understood to a point, but the reality was that if she didn’t want Watson around he wouldn’t have made it a week.
Watson isn’t especially affectionate, and it seems like hugs and kisses are lost on him. He will come to you and hop up onto the couch or jump up because he wants attention. He gets that. He wants to be petted and loved on, but he’s just as likely to have a look of horror on his face the entire time, even if his tail is wagging like crazy.
But he has his own ways of letting you know he likes you. Besides being my shadow, he’s also my snuggle buddy. No dog has ever been so down for a nap as this guy. He has no concept of personal space. Sometimes he’ll curl up next to my legs or at the foot of the bed, but mostly he wants to be a living stuffed animal and wiggle up under my arm and snuggle up against my chest. Which is sweet until you wake up, as I did last night, to find yourself cheek to cheek, his dog breath muzzle mashed up against your face. There was also the time I woke up and he was curled up on my pillow, sniffing the back of my head. He’s so very, very odd. Which means he fits in perfectly.
He and Matt, well, they have their own weird little thing, too. Watson makes all kinds of strange noises, squeaking and honking and whatnot, and he really gets going when someone comes home. It’s how he communicates. But he goes a little farther when Matt gets home, and now we have an after-work activity we like to call squeeze the beagle:
So I guess that’s where the story is. Ceili has a new buddy that she’s pretty fond of. We came home from dinner Friday night and discovered we had interrupted a session of “chase the beagle.” But they soon got back to tearing through the house, him spinning around and jumping on furniture, her nipping and swatting at him every time he zoomed past. Watson’s managed to bring out the rambunctious puppy that still lurks in 13-year-old Ceili, she loves to play with him as much as she loves to take his treats. But don’t mess with him. Because that’s her brother, she can smack him around all she wants, but she’ll protect him from everyone else.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time writing my ode to cardigans for this piece, but I realized how ridiculous it got, so I’m just going to cut it down to these few thoughts.
For some sad reason, I was never a big fan of cardigans until my early 20s. I’m sure it’s partially because they weren’t as prevalent as they are now; back then you might walk into the Gap or Banana Republic and see one or two cardigan styles—at least always a twin set—but now there are seemingly endless cardigan options, and I love almost all of them.
There are no less than six cardigans in my closet right now, mostly all black, and all for a different occasion. There’s the thick but faded oversized Gap cardi that has become a regular part of my weekend loungewear, and the lightweight Old Navy one with the three-quarter sleeves that is perfect for layering over a long-sleeve shirt in spring and fall, and for keeping cool and covered in the office during the summer. There’s the cropped Calvin Klein one with elbow-length sleeves that serves as what I like to call a “modesty cardigan” in my office—I’m only wearing this to cover up the otherwise inappropriate for the office dress I’m wearing, and I’m only wearing it when I leave my office, because it’s hot y’all. It’s a summer necessity when anything is showing too much skin, too much tattoo, too much whatever.
I have a great blue-gray Sparrow cardigan from Anthropologie a few seasons ago that is just the best for wearing over a denim mini, leggings and boots in the fall and winter, or just for adding another cocoon layer over a t-shirt and jeans. Its oversize proportions keep it decidedly cool and casual, with a touch of Olsen twin boho. There’s also the gray cashmere one that’s very proper and twinset-worthy, and the long black one with the ruched sleeves that I probably need about four of because I tend to wear it a lot.
The point is, I can’t imagine fashion without cardigans of some sort. They’re almost like accessories, with their ability to transform a pretty lazy, thrown together outfit into something office appropriate that at least appears you out some thought in.
Long live the cardigan, in all of its endless styles. Even the really awful ones, because I’m sure they at least make someone happy.
I’m getting super-excited about seeing Eddie Izzard again this weekend at The Orpheum in Memphis! We first saw him in 2008, after years of watching DVDs and listening to albums on road trips. Needless to say, his Stripped show did not disappoint, and I’m pretty sure the same can be said for Force Majeure. See you on the fifth row!