And then came Tillie

It was such a long two months.

We said goodbye to the sweetest little dog we’d ever had, a beagle who went on our honeymoon with us, traveled on vacations, went on picnics, took us for walks, made us laugh. I wrote many a blog about Lady, and then I wrote her eulogy.

That was in September, and I haven’t written a blog since. I won’t say it was grief that dammed up my usual flood of words, but it was a big part of it. The loud silence, the one without a beagle bay or a jingling collar, seemed to fill my head and sap any desire to write about other ordinary things.

Two months later, six weeks ago, that all changed. In mid-November, Tillie arrived. Our home, named BeagleSong, once again lives up to its name.

Tillie came to us through Midwest BREW (beagle rescue, education and welfare).


I know there be a squirrel up there!

We had hoped to find another beagle through our local humane society but were having no luck. Then a friend sent us a photo of a beagle available through BREW. It wasn’t Tillie, but it made us aware of this all-volunteer organization that does a fabulous job of rescuing beagles from high-kill shelters and other precarious situations, and fostering them until a home can be found.

We knew we wanted an older dog. What would a couple in their 60s do with a bouncy youngster? And how could we, a couple of oldsters ourselves, see no value in a senior dog? So, it was easy to head to BREW’s online page of seniors and fall in love with every one of them. Tillie, however,


Tillie’s furrowed forehead seems to hint at hidden worries.

caught our eye right away. We were delighted when, after the application process, the phone interview and our approval, Tillie was still available.

Tillie’s foster family met us halfway between their Illinois home and ours in Sturgeon Bay. At a PetSmart in Grafton, Wis., we watched our photo images of Tillie turn into real life as she jumped out of the car with the family who had given her respite for a few weeks, and was transferred to our family.

Since that day, we’ve been falling in love. Tillie is sweet and funny, and full of way more energy than we expected from a 10-year-old who needs to lose quite a few pounds. Her wrinkly forehead gives her a worried look; her long body and


George couldn’t possibly practice guitar without a dog on the bed.

shorter legs hint at basset somewhere in her ancestry, and her bugling bay is like an eruption of sheer joy. And Tillie figures every squirrel in the neighborhood is fair game.

Tillie has a big bed in our bedroom that she won’t use. She sleeps with us, straight down the middle, tucked up against one or the other of us, hogging all the covers. But that’s later. When she first gets into bed, ahead of us, she flops down on our pillows and hopes against hope that THIS night she’ll be allowed to stay there. It never works–oh, but it’s tempting!

“You have to move, Tillie,” George says, and she immediately gets up,


Are you going to make me move, Mom?

moves toward the middle, and flops down with a sigh. Humans! she seems to think. They’re SUCH slow learners!

Tillie is learning to be left alone now and then. As retired people, one or the other of us is usually home, but we do have to grocery shop, get hair cuts, go to Mass or choir practice. Her big test was last night, Christmas Eve, when we sang for the late Mass and had to leave her for two hours. It was a test that was announced right in church.

Before Mass began, Fr. Carl complimented George on his solo during the choir’s prelude music, and then expressed surprise that we were at the same Mass at the same time with our dog at home alone.



Just let me lie here a little longer, please.

“They have a new dog, you know,” he explained to the mystified congregation.

But even earlier, at the Thanksgiving Day Mass, as he announced various things for which we could be thankful, he added, “Some people are thankful for a dog named Tillie.” It had begun even then.

Last night, our return home was greeted, as always, with a wildly wagging tail and wriggly body, and loud beagle yelps–which subside as soon as she sees one of us head to the treat cupboard. She always gets rewarded when we get home–and why not? She’s a very good girl who is never destructive when we’re gone, and who politely holds her functions until we take her out.

Her frog-leg stance when on her belly in the house, frog-dogher wildly flapping ears as she races through her walks, her thrashing body, legs in the air, when she rolls exuberantly in a snow pile–all are part of her endearing personality that emerges more and more every day. We’re teaching her our ways, she’s teaching us hers, and each day we all bond just a little bit more.

I think it’s safe to say, with this kind of motivation, the blogs will begin again.





About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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6 Responses to And then came Tillie

  1. blb1 says:

    So happy for you two and Tillie. Some of us had to be satisfied with only cats when our dogs left. Then came the birds and now cats also are gone. Wil says when the birds go no more pets. Something I find hard to settle with.

  2. Julie says:

    I love this, and welcome to the BREW family (we have two of the rascals from BREW). I think you would like my daughter’s blog entry that she wrote back in February. Oh, what a legacy our fur babies leave with us. Stephie is much more eloquent with words than I am. So happy for you and for Tillie!! (Her latest entry explains ever more why it’s ok to take a break from blogging now and then. Life happens). Welcome back and enjoy your new baby. 🙂

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      I love meeting another BREW person, even if it’s through my blog. Just as beagles are wonderful, so are the beagles they rescue. Tillie is our third beagle, and I wouldn’t have any other breed. And thanks for giving me your daughter’s blog link. I’m going to look it up right now. 🙂

  3. What a sweet tribute to BREW! Everyday I am so proud to be just a small part of what BREW does for the beagles! Adopting two BREW beagles and becoming a BREW volunteer are some of the best things I have ever done! I will be following your blog….

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