Monroe Passes the Torch

Published: April 16, 2011

On October 29, 2001, our friend of 14 years (a beagle-mix named Monroe), passed away quietly in his sleep after having suffered failing health for the final two years of his life. Almost totally deaf and physically impaired by arthritis and age, Monroe was not the same dog my wife, and I had known when we adopted him as a puppy. Gone was the vibrant, curious and happy companion. Instead there lay a quiet, sullen animal suffering from the affects of old age. And so it was with very mixed emotions that we that said goodbye to our friend.

It pained us deeply to let him go that day, but we knew that at last his suffering had ended. Our kids were uncontrollably distraught when they came home from school to learn of Monroe's passing. While he was never an agile, energetic friendly companion to these kids, he was their dog and it was a special and defining moment in our family as we dealt with the death of a family member. Our youngest (age 6) wanted to know where Monroe's body was and our oldest (8) wanted to see him again to feed him once more. Each wondered why he had died. Between her tears, our daughter asked longingly, "Maybe he just needed a good long nap and then he'll feel better?" at which point, both my wife and I forced back tears at the loss of our companion and our first baby.

You see Monroe was acquired before we had started our "human" family. He was found in a "Pennysaver ad," bought for $50 and saved from certain death by immediate veterinary care. He was our surrogate for a human baby. He was our source of enjoyment together. And he was our pride and our joy. And as the years went on, the human babies came. Monroe took a dignified backseat to these human interlopers. As a toddler, our son rode Monroe like a horse and Monroe never once seemed to "argue". When our daughter would investigate Monroe's food as he ate, Monroe simply stepped back and waited for the inquisitive hands to be out of harms way. His sense of maturity grew as the years passed.

So, as we dealt with this loss, we assumed that we would give ourselves a good long period to decide whether we really wanted another dog. But not our kids -- they were convinced that they wanted a dog and they wanted one as soon as possible. As we discussed different breeds, it was clear that Monroe had paved such a strong emotional path in our hearts that a beagle or a beagle-mix was to be our unanimous choice. But we insisted to our young children that dogs are not gifts that Santa Claus brings for Christmas. We, as a family, agreed we would wait until after Christmas to begin our search for a dog.

And in typical form for this family, just days after the Christmas holiday we found ourselves at the local pound and on the Internet, finding the BREW homepage and then reviewing all the beautiful animals available for adoption. On New Year's Eve we spoke to Laura Johnson and within days, we had spoken to three BREW foster families, scheduling three visits. On January 4, 2002, we met Butch. The moment we saw Butch we knew we had met a very special dog -- he looked us straight in the eyes and he stayed close to my wife throughout the visit. In a sense, he really picked us more than we picked him. We expressed our desire to adopt Butch days later and he was in our home very soon thereafter.

Now as my wife and I see our kids hug, wrestle and cuddle with Butch on the floor and on the couch, we are certain Monroe would be pleased to know we had selected (and saved) another beagle. In Butch's eyes, we each see a little bit of the "human" spirit we saw in Monroe and a knowing twinkle that must be genetically inherit to the beagle breed. I even have to catch myself calling for Monroe instead of Butch. There will never be another dog to touch us like Monroe did, but we think Butch is now carrying the torch quite high on Monroe's behalf.

Thank you BREW for filling our family's void and for saving these beautiful animals for families like ours. You are doing valuable and charitable service to this breed and to lover of beagles everywhere.

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