Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Gentle Readers,

Since the photo I have posted of myself is that of a hound dog, I'd like to tell you about said dog.

I was working at a small town newspaper and I saw a photo of a hound dog in the news room. The photo haunted me. Those eyes. So intense. So full of suffering.

Then I read the article that went with the photo. I read it on the news room computer before it was in the paper.

This dog had lived in the woods near a particular neighborhood for more than a year. People in the neighborhood put food out for him and tried to catch him. Nobody could grasp this phantom. He got thinner and thinner. Then the animal control officer learned he was dragging around a leg trap in the snow. She told the police that if they could, they should shoot him to put him out of his misery.

But spring came and the dog was still alive and the trap was gone.

A man's little girl came running into the house, shouting "Daddy Daddy There's a dog outside and it's stuck on our dog."

The man grabbed the hound dog as soon as he had finished his love making - the dog, not the man. The dog was humping the man's female dog. Have I made it clear enough just in case you didn't get what the little girl was talking about when she said the dogs were stuck together?

Then the man took the dog to the humane society, the animal control officer put him in a pen, went in the pen with him, hugged him and cried.

The minute I got off work that day I went to the humane society and applied to adopt that dog.

As soon as my application was approved, I picked him up and he owned me until the day he died. He still owns my love.

After his picture ran in the paper, a woman who said she was a dog show judge went to the humane society and told them he was a pure bred Treeing Walker Coonhound. She said that if they looked him over they would find a breeder's tattoo on him and the breeder would want him back.

So they didn't look. They knew we belonged together.

But my husband and kids and I looked him over. He did indeed have a tattoo inside one ear. Our guess was that he had been a hunting dog left for dead. He had been shot and blinded in one eye and had buck shot scars on his face and body.

He had chewed three toes off one hind foot to get rid of the leg trap and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

But he lived the good life with us. Liked to sleep on the family room floor in a sun beam. Would sit next to my husband for hours of petting. During the winter, his foot and his old bones ached. He would get in bed with me and settle himself down on the electric blanket for comfort. When my husband would try to get in the bed, he would growl at my husband. Only time he ever growled. Smart dog.

He seemed to be a Zen master, contemplating, meditating, stoic. He never bit. Occasionally he stepped on somebody's foot on his way out the door and by God when that dog stepped on your foot it stayed stepped on. He was a massive dog.

At first he tried some Houdini-like escapes. The first night he was with us, we went to a child's sporting event. He was in a crate, a nice big one with plenty of room. I said, "Wouldn't it be hilarious if we opened the garage door and he was waiting for us?"

Well, he wasn't in the garage, but he was right inside the family room when we went in the house although the crate was upstairs in a bedroom. He had pushed the front edge of the top off the crate and in spite of his size squeezed out through the tiny opening to meet us at the door.

That dog was not going to be penned in.

Then the next night - almost a disaster. My husband came home from work and forgot we had a new dog who might be out in the fenced-in yard that the dogs entered through the garage. He opened the garage door and there went the dog. He saw his chance and he took it.

My husband said, I'll take the car and go look for him. I put my collie on a lead and told him to find his new brother. My collie took off immediately and pulled me through neighbor's back yards until we saw the hound. I was exhausted. I let go of the lead and said, Go stand over him until I can grab his collar. The collie did, and the hound dog went back home with us without any fuss or bother.

We always kept a careful eye on him in case of escape attempts. Several months later he got out the door and took off down the driveway. I called his name and said, Come. He came. Just like that. He turned around and came back home. He knew who buttered his bread.

A few years later we moved to a house in the country. We had a very large back yard, wood fence. There was a pond up the road a bit.

Periodically, he would chew through a board in the fence, squeeze out, and go swimming in the pond. Then he would come back and my husband would put a new board in the fence. We ended up with about ten new boards standing with the old weathered boards.

And then one night when my husband was out of town, the dogs went out before bed and when I called them in, the hound dog just looked at me. He didn't seem to know how to come in the house.

I went out and led him in.

I knew. I knew it was the end.

I didn't take him to the emergency clinic to be poked and prodded. I had some doggie sedatives and I gave him one along with some medicine in case his stomach was just upset. It was protruding a bit, and maybe there would be a miracle and he would wake up in the morning and he would be o.k.

No. At 3 a.m. the collie sounded his emergency bark. I knew the hound was dead.

Some very kind men who worked with my husband came out as soon as they knew I needed them and they buried him under the tree in the back yard where he liked to sleep. I called it his napping tree. He sleeps there still. Sleeps the sleep of the dead.

I go to bed at night and after all these years - how many has it been? five? - I miss him still.

I still have the very intelligent and now elderly, deaf collie. Scroll down on my message center to see his photo at the bottom of the page. A photo taken in better days when he was younger and stronger and could hear and didn't have crippling arthritis.

I think he's a pretty happy dog in spite of the pitfalls that come with advanced age. He sleeps peacefully on the couch most of the day, undisturbed because he can't hear. Sometimes he limps out to the deck to sleep in the sun.

He is so beautiful. They all are.

Ain't nothin' but a hound dog? Ha! Ridiculoso.


Dumped First Wife

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