Friday, July 9, 2010


Ripple was one of those beagles that knew few bounds. He was "rambunctious" says his owner Linda Sugars. I think that's the understatement of the year. He had limitless energy and was always full of fun and ready to go.

Ray and Linda got Ripple as a puppy from people who bred hunting beagles... he was different from the get-go with a reddy-tan coat and blue eyes. Though the Sugars worried he might be blind, instead they slowly turned a warm amber colour. He got his name because Linda's cousin thought he looked like butterscotch ripple ice cream  - (she'd been involved with a dairy). He never developed a black/rust/white coat as most beagles do but remained caramel and white throughout his life. Apparently some female beagles will throw an all rust coloured pup every fifth litter... he must have been one of those.

I met Ripple early on in my adventures in this beautiful countryside. Ray and Linda had a small boarding kennel in addition to being the Invisible Fence reps in my neck of the woods. My dogs Coffee and Herculese would stay at the kennel when I was travelling. Ripple kept them in line. He was truly a big Alpha dog - "My way or the highway," says Linda, that was Ripple. Coffee really enjoyed Ripple and would romp with him. The beagle was the first to tell the Sugars they had company, I still expect to hear it - that clarion beagle bugle calling through the bush announcing our arrival at the driveway.

 Ray and Linda quickly crate-trained the puppy, using a bunny cage. It had to have a blanket over it. When he got a bit bigger, they put him in a larger crate. Ripple howled - you know that kind of beagle howl that says: "I'm not happy get me out of here!!! NOW!"? He was quickly returned to the bunny cage.

A neighbour looking after him when Ray and Linda were away for a day or two, worried terribly when the pup would not stop howling when put in his crate. She didn't know about the blanket. Ripple tried hard to tell her, but his people speak skills hadn't developed well yet. He howled until Ray and Linda returned, much chagrined they'd neglected to mention it.

He was a pretty smart dog I figure, obviously connecting the smell from his cage with the bunny that came home from school with Linda (who was a teacher at the time) on weekends. He looked after the tiny creature during its visits "home" instead of trying to hunt it.

While he was still very young, the Sugars lived in a beautiful new home - pristine even, champagne-coloured rugs and kept immaculate until one day when Linda was busy looking after other things not realizing that silence meant trouble.

She finally saw that Ripple wasn't around and went searching arriving eventually at the guest room where her mother's things had been placed. The beautifully decorated room looked like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre had taken place. Ripple had found Linda's mother's "Love that Red" lipstick and dug in. Literally! The walls were red, the bedspread was red, the champagne carpet? - deep red. Everything was covered that was within beagle-reach. The dog came close to death that day.

Linda grit her teeth and marched him to his crate, muttering to herself, then returned to survey the damage. Standing in the doorway she wasn't sure whether she was going to cry or get a gun! Then she remembered a product she'd heard about that was supposed too "remove even lipstick!" or so the ads had claimed. She cleaned out the shelves of the shop where she found it.

After several hours and lots of elbow grease, Ripple was finally allowed out of his crate. The guest room was restored. He'd been saved by DD7.

Ray told me that the dog had a great sense of his limits - but was always testing them. He would run at full tilt to the very edge of the Invisible Fence radius, swinging his backside around at the last second so it hung over the edge of the line, but his head and the collar with the receiver in it stayed within the safe field... clever dog. He'd hear the beep and scramble back only to try that trick in another spot.

Determined? I'd say.

All his friends - two- and four-legged have missed his big personality since he's crossed "the rainbow bridge" - he seems determined to stay in our hearts.

(Photo courtesy Ray and Linda Sugars - and the stories too)

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