Our kids (ages 9 and 11) had been campaigning for some time for a dog, even crafting a faux dog from an old milk carton and dragging the plastic pooch through the kitchen on a yarn leash every night while I made dinner.
What can I say? Cat lady though I am, I was finally worn down.
Our daughters had grown up enjoying visits with their godmother's beagle, so it only made sense to us to consider adopting a beagle. If we were going to adopt a dog at all. Which we definitely weren't, my husband and I assured one another one sunny Sunday summer afternoon in 2003, on a "let's just visit" trip to a beagle rescue near Columbus, called Beagles RRRRRR Us.
Ten minutes after we arrived, this smart funny little 2-year-old beagle focused on the most reluctant-to-adopt-a-dog member of our family, my husband. The beagle hopped into his lap, gave my husband a big wet beagle kiss on the cheek... and an hour or so later, we were on our way home with the beagle.
Within a few days, we settled on the name Cosmo, as in Cosmo Brown, as in the hilarious character from Singing In The Rain who does the fantastic song-and-dance "Make 'Em Laugh," because our new beagle had already done just that... made us laugh at his antics and cuteness.
This morning, my husband and I made the decision to let Cosmo go peacefully at our vet's office. Cosmo has been suffering from congestive heart failure for over a half year now. He was nearly 14, The three medicines we had him on had worked for a time, but finally those stopped working as his heart enlarged and pressed against his diaphragm. Nearly every breath had become an agonizing gasp. The only other option left was to let him pass without assistance, but that would have meant up to another two or so weeks of suffering for him.
Our daughters, now 21 and 22, were able to call in and say goodbye to their family dog via FaceTime in Cosmo's last hour. It was tough and emotional, as letting go of a beloved pet always is.
But I don't want to memorialize Cosmo with only sorrow. For most of his life, he was funny and cheery and loving, and I think he'd rather be remembered that way.
So instead, here's a look back, with the first piece I ever wrote about him, in my Sanity Check column that ran from 2002-2012 in the Dayton Daily News:
A few days after we got our new dog, I laid down the law: a never-before-experienced, super-sanitized cleanliness shall reign upon our household!
This was because I discovered that when a beagle shakes himself, fur goes flying everywhere. Including onto the table and countertop.
So, I called everyone together and proclaimed: We shall clean and sanitize the kitchen countertop and table with disinfectant before cooking/dining!
We shall have color coded sponges—the pink one for cleaning the cat/dog food bowls, the blue one for cleaning countertop/table... and of course the sponges shall be sanitized in hot water after each use!
And we shall teach the dog the all-important commands—Down! and Sit!—so that said dog shall refrain from begging in the kitchen or at the table!
After I proclaimed these quite reasonable commandments, several things happened.
The kids and husband gave each other long, knowing looks.
The cats snickered.
The dog hid.
Still, I persevered.
And made it through an entire day, following my own rules. Then, as I stood in my kitchen, proudly surveying its sparkling clean, super-sanitized floor and countertop and sink, my 11-year-old daughter came in and said, "Mom, weren't we supposed to make deviled eggs for the church potluck tomorrow?"
As we boiled eggs, the dog came into the kitchen. I said, "Sit!" He did, on my super-sanitized floor. Then gave me a look that barked, "Lady, I'm not so sure about living here, you know?"
My daughter and I cut the boiled eggs in half (on our super-sanitized cutting block), and put the yolks in a small (super-sanitized) measuring cup.
My daughter started mashing (with a super-sanitized fork) mayo and mustard and seasonings into the egg yolks. The dog, licking his lips, stood on his hind legs. "Down!" I said. So, he lay down and heaved a weary, bedeviled sigh.
And for the first time that day, I could empathize with the dog. After all my cleaning and sanitizing, I was weary, too.
So I said to my daughter, with years-of-cooking wisdom, "Dearie, let your smart, ol' mama show you a little short-cut!"
I got out the mixer and put just one beater in the small measuring cup that held the egg yolk/mayo/mustard.
The dog stood again.
And I took my hand from the measuring cup handle to point at him and say, "Sit!"... just as I turned on the mixer... thus turning the little measuring cup into a madly spinning Tasmanian devil that wildly flung egg yolk everywhere—on the floor, the counter, the ceiling, my daughter, me, the dog...
Desperately, I yelled at the mixer: "Down! Sit!"
It didn't heed my plea, and neither did the dog, who happily jumped up and down in a little dog dance, while yipping a little dog song: Hurrah! Hurrah! At last, cleanliness is not reigning! But deviled eggs are—raining, that is! Doggy manna from heaven!
My daughter unplugged the mixer.
I picked up the blue super-sanitized sponge.
And the dog eyed me with a look that woofed, "hey, maybe you're OK after all!" then started licking up deviled egg yolks from the floor.
I'm so glad I sanitized it for him.
Hey Cosmo... turns out you were much more than OK after all. Here's to you, up there in Doggy heaven, running around, whole and sound, yipping up a storm, and enjoying all the Doggy manna your sweet beagle heart desires.