We have an almost-2-year-old beagle named Ralphie. The photo above is at about 2 months.
He’s a good dog, all in all. He gets me out every day to exercise — our favorite is mountain biking through a nearby canyon where he can run around and chase squirrels and sniff horse poop on the trails. He’s great with the kids, especially the 2-year-old who’s the only one that can pull his tail or smack his face without getting nipped at.
Raising a puppy has been. . . enlightening. My wife and I keep a shared photo gallery of his destruction — it helps us laugh about it. A little.
I’ve spent way too much money on him, even after declining to pay $2,500 for the 3 days of dialysis the emergency vet recommended after he ate a bunch of grapes. (“Can you do something cheaper that can get him through the night?” He threw up a few times and was fine.) He quickly lost interest in a lot of the toys and things I've purchased, so I thought I’d make a list of the products that have stood the test of time so far. Most of the links go to the Amazon product page (and I get a small commission if you purchase, which I will use to replace chewed-up things in my house and yard).
Beagles love to eat, any time, any place, almost any thing. Ralphie used to inhale his kibble in two gulps. This was frustrating because I looked forward to him being occupied for at least a few minutes during mealtime, precious moments when he wasn’t chewing on my belongings. I bought this KONG Wobbler and started putting his food in there. It’s like those blow-up punching toys of yore that wobble back and forth - he knocks it with his nose and paws and there’s a hole where the food falls out little by little. Meal time started lasting 5 minutes instead of 10 seconds and he seemed to enjoy the challenge.
Things to chew on
If you've raised a toddler, you’ll know that they are not interested in most things you give them. They prefer forbidden things like the TV remote, the iPhone, and anything that makes you tense up as they reach for it. It’s similar with beagles — they love to chew things, as long as they’re not approved chew toys. Here are the ones that actually kept his interest and were able to survive more than one session:
- Hooves - he loves these things! I give him about one a week and they last several days. If he loses interest in one he’s already chewed I can spread a little peanut butter on one.
- Kyjen long body gator - this worked well when he was a puppy, lasting about a month before he had it shred to pieces. There are tons of squeakers in it. For some reason, his main goal with squeak toys is to rip the squeaker out and destroy it.
- Kyjen fire hose squeak toy - once his bite got stronger, we tried this toy made out of fire hose material. It’s still not indestructible, but it lasted a couple of months. There are two squeakers buried deep in the fabric so it’s a long challenge to get them out.
- Empy milk jug with a milk bone inside. A mostly-empty plastic peanut butter jar works well, too.
- Meat scrap or other treat frozen inside a block of ice -- just fill a bowl with water, throw in a treat, and freeze it.
- Antlers - I recommend antlerchews.com
I had no idea I was signing up for so much poop cleanup. Between the puppy and the toddler, poop has been a much bigger part of my life than I ever anticipated. Here are a couple of things that help, at least with the dog:
- 700 Poop Bag Shop bags - these are thicker than the ones from the Dollar Store, so you don’t feel quite so much like you just used your bare hand. It comes with a little plastic holder, which I’ve attached to my bike so I always have them on hand.
- Nature’s Miracle Jaw Scoop - I can’t say enough good things about this. And I can't believe I'm at a point in life where I can't say enough good things about a poop scoop. It’s actually kind of relaxing for me to wander around the back yard scooping poop into a grocery bag without bending down or getting my hands dirty.
Yellow Dog Design bell. We hung this from the doorknob and it only took him a couple of days to figure out to ring it when he needs to go outside
FURminator — we tried a few brushes and this was by far the best. I give him a bath about every 2 weeks and do the Furminator just before the water comes on while he’s already in the tub. (Putting him in the tub is the only way to keep him still enough to brush him.) It pulls out a ton of hair that was going to fall out in coming days — it all sticks in the blades and you push a button to drop it into the garbage.
Roomba -- For Christmas one year, I bought my wife a cheap refurbished Roomba. I thought it was kind of a fun, gimmicky thing, but it ended up being her favorite gift ever. We're now on our second one (the first died after about 4 years) and we use it several times a week to clean up dirt, crumbs, and dog hair in the kitchen and living room. The older model tended to choke on hair and needed frequent cleaning, but the pet models are built without as many places for hair to get stuck.
Milk-Bone biscuits. They’re probably not the healthiest, but he will do almost anything for one of these. We used the tiny puppy ones when we trained him to roll over and sit.
Tropicana Fresh Breath Plaque Remover - I didn’t think this would do much, but it actually does make a difference. Just put a bit in his water bowl and his breath won’t stink. The vet says his teeth look great, so it might be helping there, too (it claims to).