April 25th marked one year since I lost Jefferson, beagle and beloved terror. I write to remember him. Doubtless some of you are thinking “It’s only his fourth column and he’s already eulogizing dead pets. Spiraling into narcissism are we? And isn’t this supposed to be a culture blog?” Fair enough. One defense: My dogs have been an education in politics and economics: When two dogs get new the exact same toy, each still wants the other’s; that a toy may be abandoned for months, but as soon as one rediscovers it, the other demands it; that the keeper’s love and attention are always a zero sum game; and that my basset hound, like a French royal unwary of the guillotine, can laze about while demanding my servitude. Another defense: Life is often hideous and crushing; appreciating its blessings softens its blows. Jefferson and I shared plenty of both, and I’m better for it.
Jefferson was a beagle’s beagle (with possibly a little foxhound mixed in): avid hunter, neurotic demander, chaos on four legs. A definitive anecdote: One afternoon, two dumb-dumb tourists picnicked in a favorite dog park upon ground perpetually befouled by urine and feces. They took a few minutes to retreat, but not before Jefferson indulged multiple drive-bys, snatching their food in perfect glee.