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Mornings With BarneyThe True Story of an Extraordinary Beagle

Dick Wolfsie

Copyright © 2009 by Dick Wolfsie

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Skyhorse Publishing, 555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, NY 10018.

Skyhorse Publishing books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Skyhorse Publishing, 555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, NY 10018 or [email protected]

www.skyhorsepublishing.com

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Wolfsie, Dick.

Mornings with Barney : the true story of an extraordinary beagle / by Dick Wolfsie.

p. cm.

9781602393530

1. Barney (Dog) I. Title.

PN1992.8.A58W654 2008

791.4502’ 80929—dc22

2008034295

Printed in the United States of America

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Beagle on the Doorstep

The First Week

Homeland Security

A Boy’s Life—or, Raised by Wolfsies

So You Think This Is Funny?

A Dog’s Life

Photo Ops

Beagles and Burgers

From Soupy to Nuts

Good Morning, Indianapolis!

The Escape Artist

On the Road Again

Taking a Dive

The Food of the Gods . . . er . . . Dogs

Is that a Wet Nose in My Popcorn?

The Rush of Radio

The Reality of Television

The Story in Brief(s)

Concerto for Four Paws

Contract Sports

Showing His True Spots

His Station in Life

Do You Look Like Barney? How About Your Dog?

Barney and What’s-His-Name

Funny You Should Ask

Fair Game

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Pup

Puppy Love

Touched by a Beagle

Travels with Barney

Walk a Mile in My Paws

Grow Old Along with Me

Heavenly Bed

Goodbye, Barney

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

End of the Tail

A Final Word

Acknowledgments

This book is dedicated to Mary Ellen and Brett. Without their patience with Barney—and their love for me—this story would have ended where it began.

Beagle on the Doorstep

Had I lost my mind? Why would a seasoned television reporter do something like this? I shuffled the beagle into the backseat of my old 1978 Chevy Monte Carlo, adjusted the rearview mirror to keep him visible, and hoped that this approach to solving the problem was only temporary.

For the past week the dog had been an intruder in our home. And all of us had been his victims. “Victims” is not the word I would have chosen, but my wife, Mary Ellen, and my three-year-old son, Brett, decided it was the appropriate label. It was hard to argue.

As I drove to work, I checked the mirror constantly. The little interloper had gnawed through his new polyesternylon-blend leash. Did I know at the time that this trip would signal the beginning of a television legend in Central Indiana? No, I wasn’t that smart. I had only one goal in mind: I wanted to save my marriage from this home wrecker.

The day I found the dog, I began my routine as I had every workday for the four previous months with the 3:30 AM buzz of the alarm. Even though I was a morning person, this new early wake-up time seemed contrary to the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

I opened the front door of our Tudor home to get a sense of the weather. A few of my television segments in the winter were shot with me outside, standing in snow and ice, telling people (as though they were morons) to drive slowly. I had great respect for our meteorologist’s overnight predictions, but there was nothing more accurate than getting smacked in the face with a frigid blast of midwestern January wind if you wanted to assess the current conditions.

It was bone-aching cold that morning, but before I turned back from the front door to retrieve still another layer of protection I had left on the sofa, a pair of soulful brown eyes stared up at me from the bushes. This was not the first time a beautiful pair of peepers had gotten me in trouble, but in the past, the glances had always been attached to a body with two comely legs, not four.

Then it began: a howl that I would hear on a daily basis for the next twelve years. That first time wasn’t just a howl, it was a plea to open my home to a complete stranger, one who had possibly lived a good deal of his life on the streets of Indianapolis and now needed to find a place he could destroy all his own.

On closer inspection, I realized the creature was a beagle. Black and white and brown. And shivering. Despite his disheveled look, he appeared well-fed, so I assumed he had run away from a neighbor’s home. But he had no collar. What he did have was a certain presence. For more than a few seconds, I just watched him as he vied for my attention. His head didn’t budge but his eyes followed my every move. Then he sat up on his hind legs and flicked his paw at me, like he was giving me a high five. I was captivated. At the time it struck me as odd, the effect he had on me. Now I understand.

I couldn’t leave the little guy out in the cold. I picked him up and was surprised he was so compliant. What a sweet dog, I thought. My wife and son were still asleep upstairs, and waking them seemed unnecessary. I placed the dog on the rug in the living room and he was content ... so tired from his apparent journey that I figured it was safe to just leave

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