Bagel The Beagle: A Highland Park Story

Bagel the Beagle driving the car

We moved to Highland Park two years ago, and people often ask why. Our dog, we say. They nod with understanding.


Bagel, you see, loves to sit perched in the window watching for the neighbors and their dogs to walk by. He also adores chasing a tennis ball around the yard or in the field down the block. Suburban life certainly agrees with him, and since arriving on the North Shore, he has been magically healthy.

Bagel was the last of a litter of beagles born in June 2003 on a farm in central Illinois. His ears were so large and droopy they nearly covered his body. He was tinyójust 3 poundsóbut scrappy. No sooner did we walk up to these 9-week-olds than Bagel jumped over the pack and right into my husband’s arms. The decision had been madeóI was suddenly a parent.

My husband, Larry, says he had the name Bagel in his head forever, just waiting for the right beagle to come along. And Bagel is your consummate beagle: loving and playful, single-minded and strong willed.

I recently read Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” this year’s selection for “One Book, Two Villages” sponsored by the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District. Narrated by Enzo, a lab terrier mix that sees himself more as a man than a canine, the story takes a poignant look at the human condition and what drives people to make those ordinary and sometimes extraordinary decisions that shape their lives. As I read the book, I couldn’t help but think of my own dog and what he ponders all day. Do I have a philosopher in my midst? Does he understand me? Does every day seem like every other? And does he ever get sick of Science Diet?


Bagel the Beagle

Then again, I am amazed each time I take a can of tuna out of the cabinet. He knows the sound of that little round can. He salivates as I open it, giving me this look like it might be his last meal. I empty the contents and lay the nearly empty can on the floor. It’s clean within seconds. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and my grandmother made brownies. All I wanted to do was lick the bowl.

Maybe dogs and humans aren’t all that different.

Bagel turned 6 in June. It seems like only yesterday he was chewing up the furniture and pulling the fringes from the Oriental rug. Now he spends his days resting or sleeping or napping Ö stretched out on the sofa, in an overstuffed chair or on the leather couch. The artwork we hung above his food bin couldn’t be more perfect: “This house strictly exists for the comfort of our beagle.”

What will the next six years bring? Hard to tell. My reason for getting a dog was simple: Dog people seemed like happy people, and I wanted to be happy. With Bagel in my life, I get to experience that happiness pretty often, not to mention the mischief and mayhem that comes from having a dog with personality and no opposable thumbs.