Monty beagle

The Home , 9 November 2016

How To Weather Life’s Storms, by Monty the Beagle Pointer

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There is a German word that perfectly summarises what I currently feel when reading the news. Weltschmerz. Translation: despair caused by the state of the world. Trump, Brexit, Syria… Sometimes it seems as if a series of hideous things are happening to good people and good things to the hideous.

After last night’s news, I decided to hold off on further Mayr coverage for the day and instead, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, to focus on the cracks that allow light to seep into this deep dark day. To step away from big ideas and politics and remind myself of the good people, being kind, loving one another. To let small gestures of goodness settle slowly, tenderly, blanketing the bad and resetting to a clear vista, so the possibility of what might be returns.

I thought finding material for this would be a challenge – after staying up until four am (when it became apparent that Trump would triumph), and then retreating to bed exhausted and world-weary, I wanted to devote this morning to misery and sloth before trying to recalibrate and write something cheery. But then Monty started to whine and moan and tap dance (truly – put a beagle on a wooden floor to experience something akin to living with Fred Astaire) to tell me that he was blithely unaware of today’s news and would like a turn around the park followed by a Dentastix, please.

Walking with Monty in the drizzle, I was unable to wallow – he was overjoyed to be in the park, to chase squirrels, to run unfettered with other dogs before racing back to check I was still there – despite the hardships he’s endured. And that’s when I dreamt up this post – life rules, by Monty (as imagined by me – try though he might in a series of seal barks, he hasn’t yet mastered English) //

Lessons by my dog Monty

Assume People Are Good Until You Learn Otherwise / Monty the beagle hasn’t had the best run of things with the human race. In his ear and knee, he has pellets from having been shot at. He was abandoned by his first family and left to starve. He had clearly been abused and wouldn’t mount steps when we first got him. Despite all this, he adores and trusts humans – even when one he just met is poking around in his eye or ear, as recently happened at the vet. I think he’s happier for this – and I think I’d be happier if I adopted his mentality.

Push Fears Aside / Aforementioned abuse has given Monty an abiding fear of small spaces, and it’s tricky to coax him into cars or corridors. That said, Monty doesn’t let this put him off when encouraged by a loving human, hopping into a car that held potential terrors after only a couple of minutes of encouragement shortly after we got him. This turned out well for Monty – we were driving to the country, where he unleashed some mighty displays of joy as he ran around the fields. Lesson for humans: embrace fear – it may end up taking you to lovely places like the Cotswolds or even the far reaches of Cornwall.

Address Your Attitude / Admittedly, Monty is not born to lead in any sense – he’s a bit wimpy on occasion and often will tug me along only to then double back to make sure I’m following – but in attitude, Monty is a shining beacon. When pouncing, boisterous puppies/babies approach him, he’s magnanimous and lets them play, looking on all the while like a wise philosopher, without getting upset or ruining their fun. When fireworks scared him, he didn’t bark or whimper, but chose to look to us (see Monty rule one) for reassurance, before deciding not to bother himself over them. When on a diet, Monty accepts the reduction of food and assumes it must be for his own good (it is, he has to lose a kilo before Christmas for the good of his health). To borrow from another legendary song, Monty, like the Pythons, looks on the bright side of life, and I think that’s the way to go, today more than ever.

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