Diane Becker, "Country Life"

We have had an Airbnb on our farm for about a year and a half and almost every guest has commented on one particular aspect of their stay. It’s not the comfortable beds or the wonderful sunsets they are mentioning. Lots of their comments say how much they liked our dog, “Howie.” Who would’ve guessed?

“Our trip to Nebraska was great but the highlight was Howie.”

“Loved staying at your house. We really loved getting to know Howie.” And on and on.

Howie is our miniature beagle who is quite the sociable dog. Instead of barking at the new people who come to stay at our farm every few days, he wags his tail to greet them.

I email the people before they come about different aspects of their stay and I’ll mention that our dog, Howie, has “the run of the farm” so let us know if they’d rather we keep him by our house. When they arrive, Howie must look at them with those big brown beagle eyes and convince them he is their newest best friend because no one has yet told us they wanted us to keep Howie away.

Not only do they like Howie, they spoil him. One guest told us he put two pork chops on the grill for him and his wife and another pork chop for Howie. We had to ask that they not make it a habit of doing that. Howie is literally getting a little pudgy from all of the attention. Other guests buy him doggie treats and one even bought him toys.

It’s understandable as there’s just something about Howie’s attitude of “I’m here if you need some companionship.” He’ll sit stretched out on the lawn and look at you, waiting for you to say the word so he can come and be petted. He doesn’t really want a lot of attention but if you’re going to give him a treat, he might take a nap under a tree and wait until you feel like throwing it to him. If he doesn’t feel like eating it, he’ll just bury it somewhere on the farm. We see him digging up his treasures around the farm all the time.

Although he sleeps in his doghouse or sometimes in our garage, he’s not a house dog and he knows it. It was surprising to me then, to go into the Airbnb house to help a guest with their Wifi, and see Howie hanging out on their sofa like he owned the place. The guests acted like he was a member of their family.

There are some dogs, I’m sure, who would get nervous having new people come up the drive every few days to unload their luggage and hang out on the deck. Not Howie. A new guest is a new opportunity to make a friend.

One person wrote, “My kids are still talking about Howie” and we can understand that.

I guess I didn’t need to hang a picture in the Airbnb of a beagle in the back of an old pickup that says “Enjoy the Little Things.” Our guests are taking the advice to heart when it comes to Howie.

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