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Dog of the Day
Today's Dog of the Day
Vishnu the Beagle/Terrier mix, the Dog of the Day
Name: Vishnu
Age: Male
Gender: Male Breed: Beagle/Terrier mix
Home: Chicago, Illinois, USA
   This is an ode to a difficult dog. We got Vishnu at a shelter in 2004. Vish doesn't possess the classic dog-like qualities. Sure, deep down he's loyal, and I'm sure he loves us, but Vishnu isn't one to parade his emotions like the typical doting dog. This dog's actions seem to say, "I have my pride." If you want a mental picture of Vishnu's attitude go watch a YouTube video of the cartoon "The Bullwinkle Show." Vishnu IS Mister Peabody, a beagle who thinks he is the smartest being in existence. (Vishnu is part beagle.)

     Why name him Vishnu? We were reaching for a name that was original and descriptive of the kind of dog we wanted him to be. So we named him after the protector god in Hinduism. But it was also because of his beautiful eyes, which looked like they were rimmed in charcoal like a Bollywood star. The name the shelter gave him was Digs, because he dug anxiously, relentlessly at everything, even his bed. It was as though he wanted to make holes in the world to escape out of it.

     Yes, Vishnu is an escape artist. We have been on more heart stopping chases with this boy than I care to remember. Like the time he slipped away and crossed the four-lane, busy intersection near our house. We didn't even know he was gone until we got a call from someone who recognized him and called the number on his tag. We collected him at the tennis court where we would take him regularly to run free in a secure area. He was waiting patiently as if to say, "What took you so long, my dears?"

     Vishnu whines a lot. It's his way of telling us what he wants, and he's exceptionally good at getting his message across. Over the years my husband and I have put together a checklist of reasons he may be whining. If it's not food or a potty break, a neighborhood stroll or a request for us to move from his favorite chair so he can occupy it, it's probably just Vishnu wanting to be entertained. We call it his "what's next to do?" whine.

     Right about now you're thinking this dog is one selfish so and so. But you'd be wrong. A year after adopting Vishnu we found Nelson, tied to a chain-link fence in the park. He was just a puppy and clearly had gotten away from something bad. Emaciated and on the verge of death we took him in. And when we did we were privileged to see another side of Vishnu, the side that was the best big brother a puppy could want. Sure, we fed, cared for and sheltered Nelson, but it was Vishnu who actually taught him to be a dog. Some lessons were sweet, like learning to shake rain off, a complete mystery to this puppy until he watched Vishnu do it and modeled the behavior. Some lessons were necessary, like learning how to be less passive in the face of his strong-willed brother.

     Over the years the charcoal has faded around his eyes and so has his lust for freedom. But otherwise he hasn't changed much. He still loves to swim, though these days it's to soothe his arthritic bones; and he can still sing along with an ambulance's siren in the purest dulcet tones. He's now, as they say, in his golden years and may be showing a few small signs of the onset of dementia. I look forward every day to gently shepherding our boy through his dotage. He deserves that and more.

     So what has Vishnu taught me personally? Humans spend so much time trying to live up to others' expectations of them. Vishnu has taught me a thing or two about being more authentic. "Take me as I am," is Vishnu's philosophy, and one we humans would do well to emulate. So here's to a dog that's one of a kind. Vishnu, you are your own little man!

Vishnu the Beagle/Terrier mix, the Dog of the Day Vishnu the Beagle/Terrier mix, the Dog of the Day Vishnu the Beagle/Terrier mix, the Dog of the Day Vishnu the Beagle/Terrier mix, the Dog of the Day

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