BeagleBailyThe “Great Outdoors” is one of life’s greatest pleasures provided by God. During my life as an adventure journalist and writer, I have trekked the globe, everywhere from Vietnam and the Middle East to the Nile, the Amazon, the Yukon—canoeing, hiking, dog sledding, riding horses and camels, climbing mountains, exploring deserts and rain forests… I often went alone into the remotest locations on the planet. Nothing around but wilderness and wild creatures.

Three-and-a-half years ago, at age 75, I was subjected to prostate cancer surgery. In the months immediately preceding surgery, I had climbed Africa’s tallest freestanding mountain, bicycle-raced 2,800 miles down the top of the Rocky Mountains, won a Silver medal in downhill ski racing in Colorado, was parachuting with the WWII Parachute Demonstration Team, bicycled across the state with Oklahoma Freewheel, managed a cattle ranch where I also trained horses and rodeo’d, traveled to Israel, Vietnam, the Sahara, Egypt… I also published five books in one year, 2017.

And, then, after never having been ill in my entire life, surgery left me with one condition after another. That’s when Beagle Bailey and Bagel Beagle arrived as tiny puppies, presented to me by son Darren to keep me company while I’ve been largely housebound. They have proven to be the best medicine and treatment, a renewed link to the wild places I cherish.

Each day while I strive to regain health and strength, the three of us go for long two-mile hikes into the forest along the lake that adjoins what was previously our working ranch. With the Beagles, it’s like seeing everything fresh again through their eyes. We encounter deer, squirrels, rabbits, wild turkey, feral hogs, raccoon and badger and opossum, Canadian geese, wild ducks, bobcat, egrets, buzzards… Beagles are inherently hunting dogs; it has been delightful introducing them to the wilderness. They chase and run and bark and dig and wrestle and stop to stare at and study any new creature or sight.

Most of all, they make me laugh and help lighten the world that seemed to have darkened on me while I struggle to regain health. And I’m getting there with the help of my wife Donna Sue, kids, grandchildren, friends, and, of course, Beagle Bailey and Bagel Beagle.

Charles W. Sasser is author of more than 60 published books and novels and thousands of magazine articles. His most recent book is Crushing the Collective: America’s Last Chance to Remain Free and Self-Governing. Pending publication is his next book, Looneyville USA—America’s descent into abject cultural and social lunacy. Sasser’s books may be found at bookstores and on Amazon.com.