“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 67: What Makes Us Unique

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

I stare down at Minerva, unsure if she misspoke or if my ears are playing a trick on me. A Chesapeake Bay retriever that doesn’t like water? It can’t be! They were originally bred to hunt and retrieve ducks and other waterfowl, and even their coats are meant to dry quickly.

Everything about them seems designed for swimming, so how can Minerva dislike it…?

“But I thought Chesapeake Bay retrievers loved the water,” I say after she throws a concerned expression my way. “Don’t you feel…pulled towards it?”

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Minerva considers my question for a moment, her tail wagging slowly back and forth over the turf. Max’s face is twisted in an effort to smother a laugh, and I shove against him a bit to help take his mind off of whatever he finds so funny.

“Well, I know other Chesapeake Bay retrievers are wild about swimming, but it’s never really been my thing,” she says in a matter-of-fact bark.

“Hmm…that’s weird,” I say, puzzled more by her acceptance of this fact than by her confirmation of my suspicions.

Aren’t all breeds defined by certain characteristics? Retrievers are great at, well, retrieving, hounds are tracking geniuses, and shepherds can herd anything, including their humans…and if you look at each one individually, you’ll find a set of unique traits. We’re born with a particular disposition, and a predetermined range of talents that we can share with others.

Why isn’t she worried about being different?

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“You don’t feel like something’s missing in your life? Like there’s a part of you that you’ve been neglecting?” I ask, perhaps too bluntly.

That probably wasn’t the best approach…

Minerva’s brows furrow slightly in response, and Max steps in to mediate our interaction.

“I think my nosy friend is just afraid that you’re holding back for some reason, or that you feel left out while everyone’s splashing around over there,” he says in a smooth bark, though not without shooting me a look of warning.

Her gaze shifts from Max to me, then back to Max, then to me again. She only wanted to relax in a sunny spot, but I gladly gave my meddling side free reign to disturb her afternoon rest. Why do I act that way?

Is it because I’m a beagle?

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“I may be a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and you may be a beagle, but before that, we’re Minerva and Bing. Chesapeake Bay retrievers generally like swimming, sure. I’m one of the exceptions – I love it when Mom takes me to the beach, but I’d much rather sunbathe or inspect the seafood buffet than paddle around for hours in the waves. That’s just how I am. It’s not something to stress over or feel sad about. My dislike of swimming makes me unique!”

Minerva flops to the ground, her lips curling back in a bright smile as she finishes speaking.

“There you have it, Bing. No emotional turmoil to fix or problem to solve. Sorry to bother you,” Max says, turning towards the pool.

I’m Bing, and I just happen to be a beagle. If I didn’t go to the Lodge every week, if some other beagle came here instead of me, would they behave the way I do? Wouldn’t they throw themselves into the business of others? Wouldn’t they do whatever they could to help?

What makes me unique?

“Where does the beagle part of me stop? Where do I begin?” I ask, my bark quiet and unsure. “What part of me is actually Bing?”

Minerva’s eyes narrow as she thinks. The sun bears down on us as we sit there pondering questions that would normally give me a headache. Only I would have an identity crisis on a perfectly lovely day like this!

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I stare intently at the turf for what seems like hours, lost in the endless fog of my thoughts. Suddenly, Minerva’s bark cuts through the mist like a tiny pinprick of light.

“Only Bing would ask such a silly question. The part of you that worries about yourself, and about all the rest of us – that’s you. You’re inquisitive and have an excellent nose, like other beagles, but you’re more than those basic traits. And even though I’m not in distress or whatever right now, just the thought that you’ll come running if I need help makes me really happy!”

Minerva is so wise for such a young dog. I’ll always be proud of my “beagle” traits and skills, but I need to start giving myself more credit for the things I say and do. I’m more than a copy of other dogs – I’m Bing!

“Thank you, Minerva. Your name really suits you,” I say with a laugh, getting to my feet. “I’ll probably always be a worried, nosy, meddling beagle!”

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She smiles at me. “That’s how we like you!”

As I run to catch up with Max, I think over her words again. Even the things I don’t like about myself are what make me more than just any old beagle – I need to acknowledge and embrace them before I can try to change for the better.

I’m not such a clueless beagle – such a clueless Bing – thanks to you, Minerva!

…to be continued…