As Homecoming season kicked off at Millikin, I noticed a woman drawing on the UC windows artwork commemorating the occasion, and with her were two beagles tied down with a red and blue leash. As I got closer, the dog on the red leash howled so loudly Chicago could hear it. The other wagged its tail and let me pet it.
It was there I learned their names: Watson and Doyle. And they were adopted by Millikin Communications professor Sam Meister and his wife Melissa, the woman drawing on the windows.
Watson had lived with the Meisters for about ten years. He was adopted two weeks after they got married. Melissa’s father never allowed her to have a dog, so she would joke about getting one when she gets married.
“She didn’t have to twist my arm much, but getting a dog wasn’t high on my priority list since I just graduated from grad school at the time,” Meister said. “But getting Watson was great because we got to start a family together right away.”
Watson had been blind for most of his life. He had lost an eye in 2012 and then the other eye around 2013. Because of that, he can’t tell what time is day and night. If he gets up at 1:30am, he’ll be expecting food and will make all the noise he wants to get it. He still gets around fine, especially when he feels like moving around.
According to Meister, Watson considers himself to be “a self-proclaimed badass.” In other words, Watson thinks there’s nothing more important than sleeping for most of the day and only getting up to go to the bathroom and eat everything in plain sight.
Around two years ago, Watson was starting to show his age. The Meisters had moved to a new house that had more stairs than the old one did. Watson was moving sluggishly, even more so now that he’s an old dog. To help keep his energy up, they decided to adopt another, younger beagle named Doyle.
“But now we have a dog with too much energy and one dog that doesn’t have enough [energy],” Meister said.
Doyle is the Scooby Doo to Watson’s Shaggy. He can be scared of everything except small groups of people who want to give him attention. He’s even scared of the couch he sleeps on, and he would bark at it at times.
Another quirk Doyle has is his need to destroy paper and Kleenex tissue paper. He wouldn’t want to eat it, but he does want to rip it to shreds.
Watson and Doyle enjoy the finer things in life with the Meisters have to offer. They love wearing clothes. They love spending time with their grandparents. They even love snagging people food. Doyle’s favorite is pizza, and while Watson isn’t particular about people food, he’ll go nuts over frozen peas.
They can also get a little overwhelmed by huge crowds. Doyle would try to hide, while Watson would just sit there indifferently. If it’s a small group of three to four people, they would eat all that attention at once.
Watson and Doyle also share the same rescue center they once called home: the Animal Protective League (APL) in Springfield. The Meisters are big proponents of supporting this organization. In fact, for their anniversary, on top of buying lavish gifts for themselves, they also donated towels, hand soaps, and office supplies for APL. While people also give away leashes, APL also needs basic supplies to keep the business aspect going.
“APL is a fantastic not-for-profit, and any advocating for adoption, we’re all about that,” Meister said. “It’s really rewarding, and there are plenty of critters there that deserve some love and attention.”