Cosmo. Photography by Jessica Turner.

Cosmo was born and bred to be a laboratory “specimen” for experimental studies in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Knowing life only from the confines of a cage and having a number for a name, Cosmo made his way from incarceration to freedom and to a family that loves him.

Born in 2014 as test subject A-370771, Cosmo was set to begin testing when activists fought the pharmaceutical company that held him and four other beagles. The rescuers were told the dogs could be adopted rather than euthanized when testing was finished, but instead they were dumped in the nearby woods.

Cosmo survived for a month out in the wilderness and was found malnourished and disheveled. He had been infected with heartworms, and many of his teeth were rotting. 

Maurice and Jule Aguirre were not planning to get another beagle. They had just lost one of their older dogs to liver cancer and were still grieving. One of their pups has a Facebook following and had shared posts about the loss of her brother. Fans started to point to adopting another beagle, named Shiloh at the time.

“His story made me open up and say, ‘Well maybe it’s some kind of cosmic thing,’” Jule says.

Cosmo came to them extremely traumatized. He would jump and hide, and he had to be treated for his heartworms, which were resistant to most drugs.

Cosmo was too scared to leave his cage most days after he was brought home from the Blytheville Humane Society in Arkansas. One kind encounter from another of the Aguirres’ dogs helped change his direction.

The dog leaned into the cage and nuzzled Cosmo’s neck. From then on, the adopted pup began to give love as well as receive it. He began meeting each day with a good bark and learned to move forward in life.

Nearly five years later, Cosmo is still skittish sometimes, but he’s found comfort in Kali, their 11-year-old rescued beagle. He started following her around years before she accepted their friendship. Now, they’re always together.  

“He’s like a sponge that wants to soak her in,” Jule says. “You often find them lying right next to each other.”

He’s incredibly loving of people too, she says. Without an aggressive bone in his body, Cosmo absorbs love and attention from anyone.

“He’s just a walking ball of love,” Jule says.

Read more about our Lake Highlands pets here