Home

 Photos

Family Events

 Recipes

 Stories

 
 

 Belle

 

she was about six months old, a Red Bone coonhound  

 

 

In January, a month after we moved in, we made a trip to local pound to look for a new dog to join us on the farm. Our choice was made before we even went into the building. As we parked out back we saw Belle. She was sitting on top her dog house. The sun highlighted her soft red coat. Those long velvety ears piqued our attention. We did go in, shopped around a bit, then made a unanimous decision to take Belle home.

According to staff at the pound, she was about six months old, a Red Bone coonhound, complete with papers and a very impressive family history. Her previous owner had mistreated her and that’s how she came to be at the pound. Malnutrition left her unable to bark. Despite her previous treatment she was bright eyed and active, seeming to be well on her way to recovery.

She came home with us - in no time at all adapting to life on the farm, quickly becoming a beloved companion and trusted friend. She and my son became best friends almost immediately.

The first big event in her life with us was the operation. She was spayed as a condition of our adoption of her from the pound. We had no problem with this since we did not plan to breed her anyway. After her surgery, we brought her home, carefully made a bed for her in the living room and cared for her during the convalescence. My son worried about her a lot that night, staying right by her side, observing her every move. She slept off the medication unaware of any concerns for her. It was January and very cold at night. We had already decided she was to be an outside dog. Following a quiet night after surgery my son wanted to keep her in all the time. Next morning he changed his mind. As soon as she recovered from the medications she was back to her normal very active, curious self, into everything and all over everything. So out she went, which suited her just fine.

Her first doghouse was in a small outbuilding in the yard. This was soon replaced by a first class doghouse made just for her. My husband and son built her a lean-too type dwelling up against our railroad tie retaining wall, complete with a shingle roof. As a finishing touch it was filled with straw, making it warm and toasty even on the coldest of nights. She loved it.

Being unable to bark, we discovered was only a temporary condition. Not long after she came to live with us she found that she could bark and better yet she could howl. True to her nature she became very good at both. Especially at night, she loved to let herself be heard far and wide. If you have ever heard a Red Bone vocalize you know exactly what I mean. The breed is championship class when it comes to exercising their lung capacities.

She greeted each and every visitor with enthusiasm. As a first gesture she did what came naturally - to her - she sniffed their privates. Now in the canine world this is acceptable behavior, in the human world it is not. We were unable to discourage this activity, even though we tried repeatedly. Grown men blushed and my mother-in-law was bewildered when Belle stuck her nose up under her skirt - no matter, everyone was met with the same curious "hello/how are you" - Belle style.

It was a joy to watch her run. She seemed to do it effortlessly, crossing wide fields in a heartbeat. While running she could bark or howl at full volume and never be the least bit winded when she got to wherever she was going. It all came naturally to her, just like breathing itself. Watching her run off to investigate a new sound, smell, or movement in the distance, we came up with her nickname - "Wiggle Butt"- which we used affectionately on occasion.

In the spring of that year she came up with a new little trick, which took us some time to figure out. Nose to the ground she would go around the yard as if sniffing for something. Suddenly she’d stop, still sniffing the ground. After circling a few times she’d jump straight up off the ground, all fours in the air at the same time. Then go on a little further and repeat the whole scene. Why? She did this for a while everyday for several weeks. We were completely in the dark as to the reason for this behavior, until we talked to a few of our neighbors. The explanation was quite simple. With her excellent senses of smell and hearing she was "tracking and spotting" mole activity in our yard. Amazing!

Wherever my husband or son were working outside she was right with them. Checking out the job or just keeping them company. Riding "shot gun" in the farm truck or Bronco was a real delight of hers. That was her seat and she was proud to be there. Her life was full and busy.

As time went on, my husband left for an overseas assignment and my son took a job in a nearby community. With them gone, outside work on the farm slowed down. Belle didn’t have as much activity as before to fill her days. We decided to get her a companion - another dog. That’s how Ginger, a Golden Retriever, came into our lives.

Belle and Ginger shared many adventures and became best buds.

In early February of the next winter, I found Belle sleeping in a pile of hay in the barn when I went up to feed. Not unusual, was my first thought. However, later in the day she was still sleeping in the barn, most usual for her. I took her food to the barn and she would not eat. Took her to the vet. Left her for some tests. When I returned to the vet, heard the bad news. She had evidently ingested antifreeze. She was bad about foraging in the neighborhood and would eat anything. With IV fluids she was a little more active. However, she did not know me. Broke my heart. Damage from the antifreeze is permanent. She would not eat and had permanent system failures. No choice but to have her put to sleep. One of the hardest decisions I have had to make.

Her life had been cut short. The only consolation was that while she was with us it had been a happy life.

 

 

Last updated 23 February 2010

© 2001 - 2010 T.K.Ash