Been down a lot lately, for various reasons. Janie's abrupt departure from my life is the obvious one, of course. There's also a particularly soul-depleting presidential race which will continue to play out through what promises to be a very long fall. And most recently, the death at age 85 of comic book legend Joe Kubert, whose absolutely brilliant work on DC's vintage war comics taught be everything I needed to know about the art and craft of storytelling, all before I was even able to read.
Still. No matter how bleak things may get, I do know that several times each day, I will be reduced to fits of helpless laughter, and my mood will lighten. And what brings this life-affirming gift?
Isabella T. Beagle, of course.
At first, she was as bummed about Janie's absence as I was. She'd leap into what was once Janie's chair, where she used to curl up in her friend's lap, and stare at me helplessly, her bewildered head tilted. Poor little dog.
Beagles, though, are nothing if not upbeat. She rebounded and, sensing my still-morose mood, set about cheering me. The adorable behavior suddenly ramped up to previously unimaginable heights. It was no longer enough to come sit beside me when I'm on the computer; now she has to leap over me as I sit here, like she's Evel Knievel and I'm a row of semis. She can't just jump up and down to tell me she wants to go outside; now she grabs the leash in her mouth and brings it to me. And stealing one sock isn't enough anymore, not when she can root through the hamper and pop her head back up with several socks draped over her snout, because overkill is always funnier. Swear to God, if she could figure out how to do the "Sideshow Bob steps on the rakes" bit, she would.
Obviously, she knows she has an appreciative audience. Like any comedian, she'll do anything for a laugh. But I think, as her vet once told me, she also has a good heart, and genuinely wants me to be in a better mood. (In this, she's in sharp contrast to the cats. Staley's new thing is to perch on the highest places she can find--the top of the refrigerator, top closet shelves--apparently just so she can look down on the world from a godlike perspective. And Delmar...well, God bless him, he's showing more affection for me than he ever has, but it's wildly misplaced. Wrapping all four legs around my arm as I'm sleeping and squeezing tight doesn't make me feel loved, it just makes me wake up thinking I'm having a stroke.) Life may, as Dawn and Wilbur Weston observed in the current Mary Worth storyline, be brutal, but it can also be wonderful, as long as you have a friend.
And if that friend has four legs and a wet nose, so much the better.