Teagle, the Bug-Killing Beagle

By Diane Stark

“Where are we going, Mom?” My siblings and I asked from the backseat of our woody station wagon.

But Mom just smiled like she had a big secret.

Finally, she stopped the car at a place called the Humane Society.  “Where are we?” I asked.

Mom smiled again. “You kids have been begging for a dog. Let’s go pick one.”

After much happy dancing, we went inside to choose our pet.

My siblings and I looked around, searching for the cutest, friendliest-looking dog. But Mom had a different idea. “Which dog has the least time left?” She asked the volunteer quietly.

The volunteer pointed at a small fuzzy dog with big floppy ears. Mom studied the dog. “Is he a beagle?” She shook her head. “He’s got beagle ears, but he’s fuzzy like a terrier.”

The volunteer smiled. “We’ve been calling him Teagle. It’s a cross between terrier and beagle.”

Mom nodded and then turned to us kids. “What do you think of that little guy?”

To be honest, there were cuter dogs in the shelter that day. But every time one of us kids tried to show Mom one of them, she just directed us back to the beagle terrier mix. “I really like that one,” she said about 100 times that day.

Finally, it became clear that when Mom had told us to choose our pet, she’d meant that we had to choose the one she liked. And clearly, the one she liked was Teagle.

Years later, Mom agreed that there were cuter dogs in the shelter that day. “But he was the one who needed us the most,” she said.

Turns out, we needed Teagle too.

One day, about six months after we’d gotten Teagle, my siblings, the neighbor kids, and I were playing hide-and-seek in our basement. At first, everyone tried to coax Teagle into hiding with them, but he was too rambunctious and gave away our hiding spots. But we discovered that he was actually very good at finding people.

It was my turn to be “it,” so I enlisted Teagle’s help. Together we found everyone but my older brother, Mike. We wandered around the basement, calling his name. “Sniff him out, Teagle,” I said.

We were just about to give up when Mike came flying out from behind some old boxes, crying and waving his hands in the air.

“What’s wrong?” we asked him.

“Wasp nest,” he screamed. “I already got stung once.”

Earlier that summer, Mike had wound up in the emergency room after being stung multiple times. He was allergic, but we hadn’t known until that day. It had been scary, watching him swell up and gasp for breath. None of us wanted it to happen again.

“Go upstairs and get Mom,” I told him. “And don’t you come back down here!”

As we devised a plot to get the wasp nest outside without being stung, Teagle took matters into his own paws. He started barking and then ran behind the boxes where Mike had been hiding.

We watched from afar as the little dog picked up a wasp between his teeth and shook it. His huge ears flapped in the air with his vigorous movements. After shaking the wasp, he’d toss his head and throw it on the ground. If it moved, he’d pick it up and shake it again. If not, he’d find another wasp to shake.

“Teagle is killing the wasps!” We said. “He knows Mike is allergic and he’s saving him!”

By the time Mom came downstairs with the insect spray, Teagle had killed most of the wasps. And he’d solidified his place as a hero in our family.

That was the first time I watched Teagle kill a wasp, but it wasn’t the last. In fact, he had a thing for killing all flying insects. Over the years, I watched him shake a housefly, a bumble bee and even a lady bug.

While deep down, we knew that Teagle couldn’t have really known about Mike’s allergy, my siblings and I bragged about that incident every chance we got.

“Your dog plays fetch? Well, our dog saved my brother’s life,” we’d say.

Teagle might not have been the cutest dog at the shelter that day, but he was the best dog there.

We saved him. And whether he meant to or not, he saved us too.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark

    Diane Stark

    Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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One Response to “Teagle, the Bug-Killing Beagle”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Diane, this was a very sweet story. It could be a children’s book.

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