Anyone who says that beagles aren't love sponges has never had to sit and endlessly cuddle one. Bela's emotional neediness would be unmanageable, except I grew up with beagles. So, I knew. Oh, how I knew. Between my mother and Ponder (the beagle) it was nothing but hugs and too many kisses. I think I became physically stand-offish because of those two. Not that I'm a nondemonstrative cripple or anything, just, you know, when you show how you feel and you get the sense that a ton is never even going to scratch the surface of being enough, you give it up. You smile and wave and slowly back toward where the alcohol is. Then, if you're smart, or just a smarty pants, you find the one person in the world willing to put up with your own neediness and shower them with all of the love you denied everyone else.
Yes, it's sick, but it's familiar, and that counts for a lot once you're not 20 anymore. Or pretending to be 20 either.