As my family was watching TV in the living room, there was a scratch at our back door. We glanced over and saw our neighbor’s dog, a beagle, standing at the door, wide-eyed and begging to come inside and say hello.
After we let him in, Wilson the beagle visited with our dog Daisy, then he got up on the couch and lay down as we continued to watch TV.
Wilson was adopted nine years ago as a puppy by the Payne family after their previous dog Ruby, a basset hound, died at age 14.
Owner Chris Payne said the idea of naming the dog Wilson comes from his family watching the movie “Cast Away” the night Payne and his daughter Emeline surprised the rest of the family by bringing Wilson home.
Even an underground electric fence won’t stop “Wilson the Wonder Beagle” from taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Payne said Wilson escapes by either walking around the perimeter of the underground fence as the shock collar beeps until the batteries die, or he scratches the collar to loosen it up enough that he can escape without getting a painful shock. While Wilson is an explorer and likes to get into trouble, sometimes he escapes his fence while the Payne family is out of town to visit neighbors.
“Even though we paid people to come by and feed and check up on him, he will get lonely and go visit them,” Rachel Payne said.
Whether it is running away from fireworks and thunderstorms or just wanting company, Wilson always gives a couple of howls to warn neighbors that he is coming over before he jumps the fence and runs over.
“If we’re not here, and if there’s any inkling of a storm, he’s going to be gone,” Chris Payne said. “And July Fourth is terrible.”
During Wilson’s neighborhood adventures, he has met neighbors with whom he has become friends.
The Lassiter family met Wilson while walking their dog Lilly past the Payne house, where Lilly played with him for a bit before continuing their walk. Then, one Thanksgiving Day the Lassiters, who live a block away from the Payne house, welcomed Wilson into their home since his family had gone out of town for the holiday.
“We opened the door to pet him, and he just ran right in the house like he was at home,” Rachel Lassiter said. “He played with (our) dog and visited with all the family and we fed him some turkey.”
Since then, Lassiter said, Wilson visits whenever his family goes out of town. Lassiter said they consider Wilson to be a friend and continue to welcome him into their home.
“He’s fun, loving, silly, and our kids, we have two boys, loved it, and our dog Lilly was so happy to have a playmate,” Lassiter said.
Wilson has become almost a familiar face around the neighborhood, sometimes known only as “the beagle.” Every once in a while a photo of him will appear on the Neighborhood Watch app with someone asking to whom he belongs and detailing where he was last spotted.
“He’s like Bigfoot,” Chris Payne said. “He’s been sighted.”
While he may seem grumpy or anti-social, Wilson is known to be friendly once he gets to know someone. Wilson the Wonder Beagle has already won the hearts of some neighbors.
“We just love when we hear his bark,” Lassiter said. “They’re a whole block away from us and sometimes we hear him like, ‘There’s Wilson. We know he’s OK.’ ”
Even though he may wander off to go on adventures, Wilson always finds his way back home.
“A beagle is never lost,” Chris Payne said.