Like many animal lovers, I was shocked by the fatal attack on a terrier at the dog park. Our dog does not frequent the park. We don’t stay away for safety reasons; it’s just that our beagle does not play well with others.

When Coop encounters another dog, he acts all excited but cowers away from any actual contact. At the dog park, all the unwanted advances simply overwhelmed him.

When I said earlier that I’m an animal lover, I wasn’t including Coop. We have a troubled relationship. For example, we have different attitudes toward food. I look at it as necessary fuel to keep us going through the day, while food for him is a 24/7 obsession.

Not that he limits his diet to the two scoops of brown chunks we provide each day. He eats grass, paint chips, plastic – he even ate a bar of soap, thus proving his mouth is cleaner than ours.

At night, Coop is my not so silent companion. If he’s not making disgusting licking sounds, he’s whimpering about his droopy ears. They’re prone to infection, so when he starts crying and pawing, we apply medicine. Afterwards, Coop completely ignores the bottle’s warnings and rubs the stuff off on the living room carpet.

My neighbors are also aware that Coop does not believe silence is golden. He begs to go out and the minute the door closes, he’s howling at some imagined threat. It used to be that he required a treat in order to go out, but we put a stop to that, out of concern for his growing love handles. He still demands a snack to stop barking and come back inside. We used to use real dog treats but now he’ll settle for a Dorito.

My neighbor said that the pitch of Coop’s howling makes his spinal column vibrate and he’s considered doing away with our dog. I know I should have risen to Coop’s defense but I’ve learned to never argue with a Second Amendment guy. We almost lost Coop, anyway, when he escaped the backyard. Thankfully a neighbor known as “Dogcatcher” rang our doorbell to alert us.

Besides eating and howling, Coop lives for smelling. His owner isn’t crazy about indulging his senses with a walk through Forest Park, so we surrogate parents perform this function. When we grab the leash to take him out, he gets so excited; you’d think we were scooping brown chunks from the food bag.

Coop does have his redeeming qualities. Like most beagles he’s cute and gentle enough for children to pet. In fact, about twice a month, he demands that I pet him. He rolls over on his back and squirms around in such a needy way; you have to scratch his belly. There, Coop, we’ll do it again in November.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.