Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mr. Minchy Spampobello

Yes, that's my dog's official name. No idea where any of it came from, but it seemed to fit him.  We learned a little later that Minchy (or some spelling of it) is Welsh for Monkey, which is fitting.

We adopted Minchy on September 1, 2003.  We'd moved to Ithaca in May 2003 and chose our apartment specifically so we could get a dog.  By the time September rolled around, we were settled enough to start looking.  We checked out the SPCA's website first (they were closed for Labor Day) and no one really appealed to us.  We figured we would stop by when they opened the next day, but in the meantime, we thought we might check the "free to a good home" listings in the paper.  There he was- beagle/ jack russell mix puppy.

We did not know what we were getting ourselves into.  Minchy (formerly named Rascals-- Rascals??) and his brother were born because a student in town thought it would be 'fun' to breed hunting dogs.  Once the boys were born, he realized what he had created and that he couldn't handle them.  A good friend of his took the brother but couldn't take on both.  So Minchy was passed around to about 3 or 4 different homes for the first 1 1/2 years of his life, never spending very long anywhere. So in addition to the extreme energy and intelligence (and deviousness) of the Jack Russell Terrorist in him and the beagle stubborness, he had also had no training, had never been to a vet (!) and had a severe case of separation anxiety that caused him to go crazy and destroy things in a bout of panic whenever we left without him.

But in spite of all that, we loved him completely and immediately, and we knew he had a good, smart boy inside him somewhere. He learned his name that first night we brought him home, as Brett ran into the store and frantically picked up the things we'd need for him (as we hadn't really planned on bringing a dog home that night) and I petted him in the car and repeated his name to him.  Neither one of us had ever had a dog with problems like this. But it never even occurred to us to give up on him. Fortunately, a few months after we brought Minchy home, I got a job as fundraising director at our local SPCA, and I shared an office with our dog trainer.  She helped us understand why he was doing the things he was doing and gave us great ideas for helping him getting over his fear that once we left, we would never come back.  Kongs were an absolute lifesaver.

He was still a troublemaker.  He was a terror when I took him to my grandmother's to visit. He did everything from shredding ornaments to pulling the branches off her artificial christmas tree, to jumping in bed with her.

I should mention that she had a soft spot for troublemakers and enjoyed the weekend immensely. I was a wreck by the time I corralled him in the car and drove us back home.

So now, seven years later, he has calmed tremendously. Obedience class helped, as well as getting him a sister, our beagle, Frances. He's still a maniac and can never ever be outside off-leash. He's a pretty good pest-remover, having killed five possums in our yard, as well as a giant garbage rat near a dumpster by our old apartment. He also vanished a snake from our yard earlier this summer.

He has very human emotions, and I honestly keep waiting to find out he's just a little man in a dog suit, or a real boy cursed kinda like Pinocchio. He gets depressed easily and feels slighted. He's also the sweetest, snuggliest, affectionate dog. He knows when you're upset and does his best to make you feel better. In his early years, he tested his killer instincts with toys.  He'd eviscerate them- very neatly, almost surgically- to get the squeaker out. Sometimes even when a toy didn't have a squeaker, like the cheetah. A friend of ours who was visiting brought him a very cute Santa dog toy. I remember his standing there in horror as Minchy slit the toy's throat, ripped the head almost off, pulled out the squeaker, then tossed the body aside in a pile.
The only toy he has NEVER done this to is Julius. I don't quite know what Julius is supposed to be, a bug, perhaps? Anyway, Julius is Minchy's pet. He takes care of him. He shows us that he takes care of him. He tucks him into his bed, or props him against his food bowl. Sometimes, when danger is nearby, Julius will get buried in the backyard for his own safety. We made the mistake once when Minchy brought us Julius of thinking he wanted to play fetch, so we threw him. Minchy gave us a look of such DISGUST and HORROR. Then he went to get Julius where he was thrown and neither of us saw Julius for days.


  1. 2 little WOOBIES! Omigosh, I just adore the little beagles. NOT angels, but just sweet and adorable. Thanks for this story, geez they are awesome :)

  2. OH GOD! He has his own pet! That is the cutest thing in the world. What a great story!
    Every picture here is so freaking great! Awww. That's all I can say.

  3. Thanks! My boy is very photogenic. I love the pic of the two of them tucked in like babies. It lasted all of 30 seconds.
    Most people fall for Frances when they first meet my dogs, but Minchy is my special guy because I think he needed me more.