Requiem for a beloved hound dog

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor

He had many names and many friends over the years, but it was time for the old hound dog to move on where he’ll be free to chase squirrels and make as much noise as he wants.

I knew time was running out on him, but I blubbered like a baby anyway the day he could no longer keep his feet.

I thought when the time came maybe he would refuse to eat, starve himself to death or maybe just fall into a final sleep.

But this day started out like any other, with the spoon tap, tap, tapping on his food bowl.

Hound Dog heaved himself up out of his soft bed and arrived in the kitchen just as I bent to set his bowl of special goodies down.

Looking him over, it seemed he felt less stiff than the day before, had a little more range of motion in his legs.

“No pain pill today my boy,” I thought.

Off we went, my husband and I, to town for the Veterans Day parade, where hundreds of folks came out to honor all who served.

It was such a beautiful day to be with friends and family.

We came back home afterward and were enjoying the warmth from the sun shining in the living room when it happened and I knew the time had come.

The two younger dogs, full of energy and excitement, went running outside, but when Hound Dog got up to follow, his back end wouldn’t cooperate, and part of his front end gave out too.

He didn’t cry, just grunted in his efforts to regain his feet.

I ended up grabbing a towel and making a sling to help him outside, where he was able to stand on his own again for just a few minutes before collapsing again.

The feeling of dread wasn’t new to me where he was concerned — many would have put the poor guy down more than 10 years ago, when he was diagnosed with severe allergies, and possibly a hormone imbalance.

But when a hound dog has stolen your heart, there’s no letting go without a fight.

So while he grew into a great tempered dog who loved everyone and everything, I fought to control the dust and limit his food sources.

It’s amazing how similar to treatments for human allergies these things can be — keep the bedding fresh, get rid of the carpet — stay indoors on windy days and when the lawn is bring mowed.

Stay away from foods with eggs and corn — the most common food allergens.

Bathing regularly was one of the tips, but he hated bath time, so we’d go swimming at the lake instead, or in Butt Creek, where he loved swimming in place against the current — he took a lot of joy in doing that.

That melted-ice water must have relieved him from the constant itchiness.

For a while he was on prednisone; then after some liver damage, he went on a human transplant medication instead.

After several staff-like infections from his constant scratching, I was just about ready to admit defeat when Dick VanPatten developed a new brand of limited ingredient dog food a few years ago — and it was like a miracle.

Hound Dog quit scratching his skin off, his hair grew back, he had new energy and he no longer needed medications — quite amazing for as bad off as he was.

So we were blessed to have him around a while longer.

We felt safe from the big critters that prowl here in the dark, though we could never figure out just how he could smell them from in the house with the doors and windows shut.

Hound Dog loved to sing along to old-time country with his head out the car window, especially if it was a Hank Williams song.

One of the guys at Evergreen was outside cleaning the parking lot one day when we pulled in, and he told me he could hear us coming all the way around the valley.

Hound Dog also loved going to the bank, where the girls would give me cookies for him.

He loved helping dig up weeds and roots, hunting pheasants and barking at squirrels.

But most of all he loved mooching off Papa’s plate and having his blankie tucked around him at bedtime.

We’ll miss him.

Cantamos en las montañas.

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