Greg Lippert and Robert Haydon Jones

“It’s been a long day…”
by Greg Lippert

Dog Story
by Robert Haydon Jones

This was way before there was such a thing as I-95, and Jimmy remembered the trip to get the beagle from Boston as more of a journey than just a long drive. Actually, it was two long drives back to back. From Westport all the way to Boston; a three-hour interval to rest, eat and pick up the beagle; and then all the way back. It was pretty much a full day from dark to dark with 400 miles of it on the road.

The beagle lived in Cambridge in a sturdy brick cottage draped with ivy and three kinds of flowers. His owner, Professor McKenzie, was a frail, old man with a close-cropped, white beard. He was the professor who had helped Jimmy’s father get his Art History degree Cum Laude from Harvard at age 19, way back 17 years in 1930.

Jimmy’s father had been one of the professor’s favorite students and they had kept in touch through the years. Now Professor McKenzie was going away. That was why he was giving his beagle to Jimmy’s father.

It was very emotional. The professor welcomed Jimmy with a jug of cider to drink while he and Jimmy’s father had martinis. He told Jimmy he was very pleased the O’Hara family would be taking care of this wonderful dog. Cyrano was the best dog he had ever had, he said. He was Harvard smart. He knew all kinds of tricks.

Professor McKenzie cried when they left. Jimmy’s father cried a little too. He hugged the professor and told him he loved him. He promised the O’Hara family would take good care of Cyrano. They put him in his dog bed in the back seat of the Cadillac. Twice on the way back, Jimmy took Cyrano on the leash by the side of the road so he could do his business.

The next morning was a Sunday, so Jimmy slept late. He and his father had to rush to get to the last Mass. It was Palm Sunday. When they got home with the palm stalks, his mother and his little brothers were all upset. They had given the beagle some breakfast and let him out in the yard to do his business. But Cyrano had dug under the fence and run away. He was gone!

Jimmy’s father drove all around the neighborhood looking for Cyrano. Jimmy and his little brothers looked out the windows. Still no Cyrano. Jimmy’s father called the Dog Warden and the police. The problem was that beagles are so smart that a lot of laboratories look to buy them for experiments. A thief could have taken him.

Jimmy’s mom was very upset. She was the one who had let Cyrano out while Jimmy and his father were at Mass. Jimmy’s father told her she shouldn’t blame herself. Jimmy and some of his friends searched the fields between the swamp and Minute Man Hill. Then they looked around the swamp. Still no Cyrano. Jimmy wondered if they should call the professor. Jimmy’s father said there was no way to reach Professor McKenzie where he was.

It was terrible. Jimmy felt a lot of shame. It wasn’t fair. Everyone in the family was upset. It was an accident, Cyrano escaping, but it never should have happened. To be fair, they had kept dogs in the yard before and none had escaped. Jimmy’s dog, Blue, had played in the yard for years until he died. The problem was that none of these other dogs was as smart as Cyrano, the Harvard smart beagle.

Jimmy was thinking Professor McKenzie should have warned them about Cyrano. When Jimmy mentioned this to his father, he wheeled and raised his arm up like he was going to hit Jimmy. Jimmy cowered back – and his father said in a real raspy voice, “Don’t you blame poor Professor McKenzie for anything. Don’t you dare!”

Well, they never saw Cyrano again. Jimmy looked out the bus on his way to and from school – and he kept a lookout from his bike on his paper route six days a week. Jimmy’s father went on down to the police station to file a complaint – and then he also went to the State Police barracks. It was there he learned that beagles were one of the breeds that thieves stole most. It was horrible to think that Cyrano might have ended up as an experiment at some laboratory.

After a while they stopped talking about Cyrano. He was gone and it was the O’Hara family’s fault. They had to accept it.

Then on the fourth of July, a woman named Edna Smith called his father. She had been Professor McKenzie’s housekeeper. A neighbor had called her and told her that a dog was scratching the door of the professor’s empty house and that the dog looked like Cyrano. Edna hurried over and, sure enough, it was Cyrano! Somehow he had found his way all the way back home from Connecticut.

Well, under the circumstances, Edna felt she had to take him in. Cyrano seemed to be in pretty good shape. He was a tad lean. And he had fleas. But this was easily dealt with. Edna lived only about a half mile from the professor’s house – and Cyrano seemed to accept that this was close enough to his old home. He dug his way out from Edna Smith’s yard a few times but he always came back the same day.

It was a great relief to know that Cyrano was safe. Everyone was happy. Jimmy’s father talked about the power of love. How devotion had sustained Cyrano for two hundred miles over hill and dale until he got back to his old home.

Jimmy never forgot about Cyrano and the power of love. It was an amazing story. And yet every time Jimmy would tell the story of Cyrano, the Harvard smart beagle, people believed him. No one asked him if he ever saw Cyrano again. No one asked him whatever became of Professor McKenzie.


  1. Posted December 12, 2014 at 9:14 am | #

    A heart warming tale of love and loyalty… “a dog gone home”

  2. Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:17 pm | #

    In the end, all stories are about dogs and martinis, whether they want to admit it or not. I think we need a story from the McKenzie viewpoint. Is he hanging out down the river with Mistah Kurtz? Nicely done, and well set up for your next.

  3. Posted December 14, 2014 at 9:14 am | #

    ? You say They never saw him again Puzzled me!

  4. Posted December 14, 2014 at 5:52 pm | #

    A really nice story. Only animals have undying loyalty like this .

  5. Posted December 17, 2014 at 7:56 am | #

    How could this story not warm your heart? It’s the kind of story you never tire of. Nicely told. Very touching picture, too.

  6. Posted December 19, 2014 at 6:36 am | #

    More than a grain of truth to this one. In the 1950s we had a dog who jumped out of my dad’s convertible on the Merritt Parkway, and a day or so later showed up at our house. A good story and a good dog.

  7. Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm | #

    So now I want a beagle…

  8. Posted January 2, 2015 at 2:15 pm | #

    A heartbreaker. Just lost several best-friend dogs.