Once upon a time, on a cold, winter’s night in Oklahoma, there was a tiny hound dog pup who had been abandoned on the side of the road. Whoever had left him there didn’t care whether he lived or died, but God knew there was a home for him in Colorado.
Beau (Bo- we never could agree on how to spell his name) the hound dog was the cutest pup you ever did see, he made his way from Oklahoma to our home through some friends of ours who found him there. We were newlyweds starting our life together and he made the perfect addition to our little family. Not knowing his exact breed, my dear mountain man was super excited to have a hunting dog. Visions of coon hunts and treed mountain lions were dancing in his head and in the beginning he really seemed to have what it would take. We brought home his first coon in a live trap and the dog lost his mind. Baying like a pro, he definitely proved that he was ready for the chase. He even showed a lot of potential in tracking a scent but over time it became clear that he would never make a hunting dog. His legs were just too darn short. This hound was obviously part basset and was never going to measure up. But there was no love lost on that account, we was our buddy and our first child.
We started to research hound breeds to see what we were in for and learned these three basic things.
- Hound dogs are stubborn.
- Hound dogs’ noses rule them completely.
- Hound dogs smell bad.
We found all three of these things to be entirely true.
Beau was exceedingly stubborn and hard to train. When learning basic commands, we got as far as “sit,” (resulting in him laying down) and for a short time he cooperated with “play dead” (but tired of that game quickly and gave up.) There was no hope of teaching him to be quiet; his baying and barking were constant unless he was asleep.
His nose, did, in fact, take over his ability to reason at all. If we were on a walk, or camping and he caught wind of something interesting… he was gone. And no amount of calling him or threatening him would bring him back. He would come back in his own time, when he was done with the chase.
He also couldn’t resist the smell of “people food.” Every night during supper, our meal was accompanied by the sound of incessant whining. This whining would continue until we were done when he was given our plates to lick. (Did you know dogs can count? There are four of us, and if someone put their plate in the sink instead of giving it to him, he would harass me for the rest of the night because he knew that he only had 3 plates to lick instead of four.)
During the winter, when we had somewhere to go and it was too cold to leave him outside, we had to be sure that we “dog proofed” the kitchen because although he would never dream of dumping the trash or jumping on counters when we were home… once that car pulled out of the driveway, all bets were off. He would dump trash cans, jump up on the counters (quite the feat for a 50 lb dog that was more than 2 feet long with 8 inch legs) and eat anything within reach, I mean ANYTHING. At different times over the course of our almost 11 years together, he once ate an entire bunt sized pound cake, another time it was a 2 lb meat loaf, and his most recent transgression was about a 2-3 lb ham. (It was my own, home raised pork, home cured ham… I really wanted to throttle him after this one but he was so sick from all the salt, I figured that was punishment enough. The poor dog drank gallons of water over the next few days.) Oh yes, and another time, he ate a gallon sized bag of homemade deer jerky that probably accounted for an entire shoulder of venison (again ending, with the homicidal temptation for us and gallons of water consumption by Beau.) What he couldn’t consume while we were away, he would take and bury around the house. I would find, bags of hot dog buns behind the couch, bags of marshmallows under my pillow, and loaves of bread in the laundry basket.
And yes, hound dogs do in fact stink. No need to go into great detail there, lets just say that long road trips with Beau in the car or truck were sometimes we’re very… very long. But he loved to “go” so much that we couldn’t bare to leave him behind. He also loved clean laundry. If there was a pile of clean laundry, or especially a neat stack of folded, clean laundry, he would be found laying on it; leaving our clothes with just a hint of that lovely ode de’ hound dog scent behind.
All of these things add up to a very “bad” dog, and that is what we teasingly called him. But he was our Beau dog, and we loved him so much. He went on many adventures with us, backpacking, hiking, camping and picnicking. His joy in life was getting to GO somewhere. He knew, the moment I started to pack a bag or haul things out to the camper that it was time to go; and we would all be deaf by the time we left from all of the baying and barking he did while impatiently lunging at the door. If we ever went anywhere without him, even for a few hours, he would bay and scold us for at least 10 minutes when we returned, for leaving him behind.
But he loved “to go” a little too much and recently started “going” on adventures without us. Whether it was sheer orneriness or his nose leading him away, he decided that staying in the yard was no longer a requirement for him and he would let himself out one way or another. He would unlatch yard gates or push past the flexible siding on the house and adventuring he would go. One week ago today, he left on an adventure and never made it home alive. He may have been a bad dog on paper, but he was part of our family and our homestead and now we are one less. There is no one to lick our plates after supper, no one for the garbage man to throw treats too, and no one to scold us when we come home.
Our homestead is a very quiet place now, but I will always hear his baying in my mind.
We love you, bad hound dog. We always will.