The Daily Digital Photo
Clayton, Spenser and Scooter: then and now.

May 27, 2009

Spenser arrived in our lives in the summer of 1996, at age one and a half, one year after we got Clayton, and three years before Scooter. Spenser experienced abuse as a very young dog and was taken in by Caroline of the then Massachusetts Beagle Rescue where she rehabilitated him. It took several months. She refused to give up. From there he went to a very loving home but a year later when the couple moved to England they returned him to Caroline because they could not bear to put him through six months of quarantine. (By the way, they changed his name from Martin to Spenser so he would have no memories of his past. I honestly don't believe that he did.) I'll never forget the day we got him. We all met at Phillip' s mother's in Connecticut, sort of halfway between Baltimore (where we were living) and Massachusetts. I remember sitting at the dining room table and seeing Spenser for the first time as he walked by the window. I couldn't believe he was a beagle, he seemed about 3 feet tall! (Actually he was a 17-1/2" beagle.) We brought him home to our meager 4 foot fence which was rapidly re-engineered by Phillip once Spenser embarked upon his nearly lifelong hobby of escaping.

We moved to New Jersey in 1998 and made acreage and central air our two priorities in buying a house. Luckily we stumbled on a house on 5 acres adjacent to hundreds more of undeveloped land. We built a new fence around the yard (about 1 acre) and prepared for Spenser's first escape. The fence was 5' but Spenser quickly got out, so we attached chicken wire all around the bottom but Spenser didn't care. Then we laid bricks and the next day he escaped. Finally we put an Invisible Fence around the outer perimeter and finally that kept him home. The woods also had an Invisible Fence but he quickly learned that the shock was brief and more than worth it for the opportunity to chase deer. So we acquired new collars and pretty much his own GPS system. Phillip thinks there was about $1,000 worth of equipment around his neck. Still, he got loose with some frequency and Phillip spent a lot of time retrieving him. The two would eventually return, muddy, with ticks and scratches or worse, like the time Spenser got tangled in barbed wire and when they were both both gored by a deer. Spenser didn't care! He had the time of his life out there, he just loved it.

Phillip and Spenser started to take their Special Walks™ in 2007. Sometimes Clayton and I joined them on but usually it was just the two of them. It's hard for me to describe how much Spenser was Phillip's boy. I loved him no less but he and Phillip had a very special bond. It was a blessing that Phillip was able to take his Mr. Man out to the woods right until the end.

Mr. Man was an incredibly smart dog. We called him Spenser the Mensa beagle. Nothing got past Spenser. He'd figure out just when he could use those long legs to get something off the kitchen counter, and when we tried the laser pointer game with him the first time he looked at us with a "you have got to be kidding" expression and laid down. I don't know when we started calling him Mr. Man. Phillip says that I was the one who came up with the name, but I think maybe it was him. Anyway, we called him Mr. Man more than we called him Spenser, we used to sing it to him and he'd make his happy noises and thump his tail. We are going to miss our Mr. Man more than I can say. Thank-you to all of you who has followed his life over the years, Phillip and I know how very much he was loved. It's hard to believe that two of our three boys are gone. It's not the end, though.

Laurie, Phillip and Clayton