Millions of “thank yous” to all those who recently helped rescue 118 beagles (see USA Today). These beagles were laboratory drug testing dogs. Caged up they were destined to spend their entire lives as guinea pigs. But after the research facility went broke several rescue groups took custody of the beagles. According to the article, “dozens have already been adopted.”
This story brought back many fond memories of our own family’s experiences owning beagles. I’m convinced that there is nothing more entertaining than having a beagle as part of your family!
In the process of acquiring our first beagle, we received much more than a furry bundle of joy. We headed out into the country in search of a beagle puppy. It took almost an hour to reach our destination. The last five miles we traveled on a dirt road. We pulled up to an 1890s style, aging, blue-grey oxidized home. It had a steel roof and a nice covered porch which ran around three sides of the home.
Even before I stopped our car we could hear a chorus of beagles singing in response to “guests” arriving. Then a grey haired woman, Helen, opened the front door and waved for us to come inside. For more than 20 minutes she asked us a series of questions about our backgrounds, current lifestyle and previous experiences with pets. Then finally Helen led us outside to the “beagle village.” This meticuously maintained beagle subdivision was the size of a regulation tennis court. There we were introduced to a variety of beagle families. After deliberating for quite some time we selected a playful tri colored female. Once again Helen brought us back into her house and asked dozens of questions about our jobs and our daily schedule. It finally dawned on me what was taking place was not just the purchase of a beagle; it was the equivalent of an adoption. Finally, I told Helen that we needed to complete the purchase or rather the adoption. In response she explained her (and her husband’s) ways and means regarding beagles:
Helen: Well, I think I have enough information about you. I will share this with my husband when he comes home tonight. Then we can determine if you are “beagle people”. Call us tomorrow morning and I will let you know if you can have the pup.
Tom: Beagle people? We are beagle people! Can’t we take the puppy home right now?
Helen: Only once have we ever allowed a prospective adopter to take a puppy home without us “sleeping on it.” That was an exception. A priest came by one day. He wanted to give a puppy to a recent widow who was having a very bad time dealing with the loss of her husband. He vouched for her. The beagle brightened her day. . . she is beagle people.
Tom: How can you make a profit selling this way?
In response to my question (which reflected my frustration and insensitivity at the time) Helen said something that I have never forgotten. She said with a wonderful laugh, “Oh, we don’t depend on our beagles for our livelihood. . . we are forest farmers.” Not only were these people forest farmers, they were millionaires many times over. And today with the soaring market price of furniture grade hardwoods these people are likely to be in the same multi millionaire category as Jim, the Texas forest farmer, whom I profiled in Stop Acting Rich.
Helen and her husband taught me several things about the importance of accumulating wealth. The most obvious is that you will never have to sell your beagle puppies to prospective families who might abuse them or to medical science laboratories. Nor will you have to continue to sell your hard work to a miserly tyrant because you don’t have enough to live on for even a month without working.
By the way, our family was designated “beagle people.”