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For most of my life, I have shared my living space with four-legged beasts. Most have been small, furry creatures that have caused nary a ripple in our household. Sure, there was the occasional piss on the china cabinet when the family stayed out too late or perhaps a bile-like puke on the couch when the pooch ate something disgusting outside, but none of the dogs I’ve lived with (six to date) can compare, in terms of sheer household destruction, to our fat, pink, pot-bellied beagle named Coltrane.

Coltrane — also known as Meatsack, the Beagalo, and our current fave, the Moose (don’t ask) — has eaten socks, underwear, and even the occasional pair of pants. The wife, Carrie, and I will briefly curse aloud whenever Coltrane tears into another garment, but then he’ll look at us with his old, cloudy-brown eyes, and we’ll shrug our shoulders, pet his head, and speak in a beagle voice for him: “Sorry, but those undies were soooooo tasty!”

As annoying as our slowly dwindling wardrobe can be, it pales in comparison to our daily battle with beagle hair. Now take a look at the picture above: Coltrane is about 30 pounds of solid beagle flesh. He has short, soft hair that, like contour farming, gracefully follows the many rolls of fat and flab that encase his skeleton.

You would never, in your life, guess that such a creature could shed so much hair. He has practically colonized “his” couch with hair. If we allow it, gentle snowdrifts of beagle hair will accumulate along the baseboards of our early 20th century bungalow in Takoma Park. We don’t even look under the bed anymore. I suspect that large clumps of hair have melded themselves together into something resembling a T-1000 Terminator or a Decepticon.

Should you try to pick up this sweet animal and hold him in your lap while watching TV, you will regret it the moment Coltrane flees the scene. Your pants, your shirt, your arms, everything will be covered in a thin layer of white beagle hair. Carrie and I have stopped using lint rollers. We just shake off the hair onto the floor until the next time we vacuum. There’s just not enough lint rollers in the world for this job.

The difficulty of cleaning up this avalanche of beagle hair proves itself almost daily. Sometimes when Carrie and I are having dinner in, say, New York City, we will look down at the black table top and see a small curl of white beagle hair sitting there. It obviously fell from some part of our body or clothing. One of us will pick up the little remainder of our hair ball back home and, once again, speak in a beagle voice for him:

“How dare you go eat meats without me?”