Owner: Frank Daly aged nine, from Bray, Co Wicklow
Animal: Fred, his one-year-old cross-bred beagle
Background: Fred has the classic characteristic of the beagle breed. he's prone to wandering
Fred is just over a year old now. Frank's family took him on as a puppy from a man who breeds beagles. Fred was "free to a good home". He is not a pure-bred beagle and he's bigger than a pedigree beagle, but he has the intelligence and good nature of the breed, which is why the Dalys were happy to take him. They already have two dogs -- a Hungarian viszla and a cross-bred labrador. Fred settled into their household well. He gets on well with everyone. Fred wants to play all the time, pestering the other animals until they join in with him. He even grabs their collars, chewing them to shreds so that they need to be replaced often.
The three dogs have their beds in the kitchen, with a dog door (like a large cat flap) giving them constant access to the enclosed back garden. This system has worked well over the years. The dogs are taken for a one-hour walk before breakfast, and they are then left on their own for three or four hours until lunchtime.
They seem happy to take it easy on their own. Frank and the rest of the family are back in the mid-afternoon, and then the house is full of activity.
It was the day after St Patrick's Day that Fred's new bad habit started. When the family came back at lunchtime, Fred was missing. Frank and his family looked everywhere for him, but there was no sign. They put up posters on noticeboards and within a day, they heard good news: their beloved Fred had been found and taken in by a local family.
As soon as the Dalys collected him, they booked Fred in for neutering. It's common for testosterone to cause young adult male dogs to want to roam. Castration is an important part of helping an animal become a home-loving pet. The operation went smoothly for Fred. The only problem has been the big plastic collar that he has to wear for 10 days to ensure that he leaves the wound alone.
The Dalys kept Fred indoors for the first two days, but on day three they allowed him to go out into the garden. To their astonishment, when they came back at lunchtime that day Fred had gone again.
Despite the awkwardness of his huge plastic "lampshade" collar, he had managed to jump onto some garden furniture and leap over the wall. Fred was found and brought to our vet clinic: we phoned the Dalys and they were soon reunited.
Fred is now going to go to work with Frank's father, where he'll be given his own kennel in an enclosed yard. We're hoping as he grows up, Fred will settle down and be allowed back into his own garden.
But, then again, as Frank and his family now know, he is a beagle cross, and beagles just love to roam.
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