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My beagle summer

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JONAL ENTRY 1246 | August 13 2012

It's hard to believe my once-in-a-lifetime summer has passed the two-thirds mark. A day or so after Labor Day it will all be over. I haven't had the time to keep a journal, but it has been a summer of many high points. One constant since my arrival in Loretto (my overnight place about 13 miles' commute from my volunteer work in Nanty Glo) has been my daily walks with Fred Beagle. Fred, or "Frederooni" as Jim's nephew Joey liked to call him, is my host Jim Toth's recently acquired animal companion. He has dragged me up and down the three actual streets of Loretto more times than I've kept count, and across the length and breadth of the adjacent Saint Francis University campus and the cemetery of St. Michael's Basilica a few times to boot.

Fred Beagle, looking regal.

At an estimated age of six years, Fred was beyond the most popular ages for animal adoption and his time at the rescue shelter that had taken him in when he was found running out of the woods in the company of a goat (with whom he seemed to share some sympatico), had almost run out. Jim saw Fred's sad tale in a news report and decided this was the next dog for him, despite the fact that the rescue shelter was at a distant town in another county.

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Fred was so fat when Jim took him out to his truck from the shelter that he had to lift his back end up to help him get in. He reminded Jim of Snowman's dog, Fred, in the movie Smokey and the Bandit, hence the name (click here for a clip from the Smokey movie). And hence my daily walks with Fred. There's no gym in Loretto where I could continue my usual workouts in San Jose, so letting this 50-pound hound drag me around town on a six-foot leash while he gave chase to every rabbit and groundhog in the bushes, would have to suffice. Fred's belly no longer drags on the ground, though I'm not sure I can say as much for my own. But for certain, it has been a workout.

The weather here has been hotter than I'm used to in San Jose (though I gather it has been a hotter-than-usual summer there, too). So Fred and I are usually overheated and thirsty by the time our evening walks end. My favorite clip of him is his plunge in the Prince Gallitzin Spring just up the street at the climax of an especially hot walk (or pull) one day last month, which you can see above, along with one of Fred's characteristic howls.

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