The first time I saw him, February 24, 2005, he was cowering behind a table at a BREW adoption day. I carried a list of available beagles and this guy was not included. He was four years old, two years older than the maximum age I desired. Still, I was inexplicably drawn to this little hound, a blue-tick with large round eyes. I sat down beside him and began to scratch his belly. He leaned into my shoulder and turned his head toward mine, his beautiful brown eyes reaching into my heart and soul. I was smitten and he came home with me that day.
I named him after Isaac Newton. (I was a math teacher.) He seamlessly settled into our pack, which included me and another beagle, Summer. Newton and Summer became fast friends, tirelessly chasing each other through the house and tearing around the yard. He loved his walks around the neighborhood and excursions to the dog park.
While Newton was the quintessential Good Dog, he did exhibit an odd affinity for clothes in the laundry basket, particularly my underwear. He never destroyed them, but he would confiscate a pair or two, carry them to his bed, and sleep with them. One day I found him with a bra on his head, the straps hanging down like an aviator’s helmet.
The vegetable garden was another source of enticement. Newton would seclude himself among the broad leaves of the squash plants and feast on zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Once, I caught him with half a pumpkin in his mouth; he looked as if he was giving me a bright orange smile.
Newton’s favorite activity, however, was far more sedate. Given a cold night and a warm fire, Newton loved nothing more than to lie next to me on the hearth, his body snuggled under my arm, his head resting on my chest. There he would remain for hours, lost in slumber, his snoring akin to a soothing waterfall. Occasionally his limbs would twitch and high pitched howls would emanate from his throat. I can only assume he was chasing rabbits in his sleep.
In 2007 our family underwent a change as we welcomed a new addition to our pack, my future husband, Wayne. Newton seemed thrilled to have another male with whom to bond, and several times I found them snoozing together on the floor. When we married in 2009, Newton accompanied us on our honeymoon to Nags Head, North Carolina where we rented a house on the beach. Newton had never before seen the ocean and he reveled in running along the shore, his finely tuned sense of smell delighting in the aromas of fish, seagulls, and hermit crabs.
We were a happy family but inevitably, with increasing age, Newton’s health began to decline. There were many visits to our veterinarian for a myriad of ailments, and each time Newton surprised us by bouncing back from the brink. I embraced these as precious gifts of time, as I knew our journey together was approaching its end. On August 8, 2011, Newton was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was having difficulty breathing and there was nothing that could be done. We made the heartbreaking yet merciful decision to release him from his suffering.
Newton passed from this world with a belly full of treats and with Wayne and me at his side. I bent over him, kissed his silken head, and told him how much I loved him, that I would always love him. He was not the dog I wanted when I went to that adoption event in 2005, but I will be forever grateful that he was the dog who wanted me.