The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

The Dogs – My Three Kids

This story is about my current “kids” – the dogs. To understand the relationship between dog and master, one has to understand the “pack” mentality. If you have an opposable thumb, you are automatically elected “pack leader” and are endowed with the most critical of tasks, opening all foodstuffs. This is followed by “opening the door” and “driving the vehicle” which in our case is an extended cab pick-up, used for “drive-by barkings”. Everything else falls to the pack to determine what they want to do, and what the “pack leader” should do, after being “howled into submission”. This is the pack mentality, as explained to me by my dogs.

Currently I have three dogs – Hunter, Dakota and Blue. All my dogs are rescue animals saved from Virginia, where “kill shelters” still exist. They cost a little more than the local rescues, but it’s only money.

Hunter was named after a popular brand of ceiling fan (as we all sat around the living room pondering a “proper” name for him, my daughter suggested “Hunter”. What an excellent name, I thought. “Where’d you come up with Hunter” I asked – and she pointed to a ceiling fan box sitting on the floor from the day before.). Hunter is a hound/retriever mix, and is pretty much me in dog form – fat, dumb and happy. Unfortunately he was abused at a young age and this has made him quite skittish – but it’s also made him extremely grateful “just to be here”. This is the trait I love most about Hunter. He had knee problems at a young age, and despite a number of operations to get him “back to normal”, he still walks like he’s getting ready to go poop.

Dakota’s name was planned in advance – on the ride to pick her out. We also picked a boy name, in case we picked a boy, but we didn’t. Dakota is a hound/yellow lab mix. She has a greyhound’s body with the yellow lab coloring, including a beautiful white face. Dakota, along with her seven brothers and sisters, were found at four week’s old living in a dumpster. She is the only one that came to me as an “8 week old” pup, where Hunter and Blue were about 5 months old when I found them. Dakota is the adventurer of the pack, primarily fearless and exceptionally independent. I’ve found independence to be a common trait in hounds, unlike other breeds. Dakota is also the instigator, as well as the “official puppy union rep.” – if the dogs want something (treats/go out/etc.) they send Dakota to whine for it. Dakota has the softest brown eyes, and she knows how to use them. Her fierce independence is what I love most about Dakota.

Last (but never least) on the list is Blue, a “Treeing Walker Hound”. He’s black and white with brown highlights, and is purely hound. He was named after a character from the movie “Old School” (“You’re my boy Blue”). Blue has the beautiful Walker face with a pair of dark eyes that never really let you know what he’s thinking. And a tail that we refer to as “the night stick”, since whenever he wags it (which is all the time) he tends to knock over/break anything in its way. As I mentioned, he’s all hound, and bays at anything that moves within 100 yards of him. Living with Blue is like living next door to the Baskerville’s. His “pure alpha-hound” attitude is what I love most about Blue.

And there you have it – barks, whines and howls, my three kids. They keep me company and make sure that my stuff’s always where I left it (I pity the fool that breaks into my house). I’ll tell you more in later stories like “Observations from the Pack”. Exciting, grip your seat moments like “Look, a car went by” and “Who covered the poo – a snowy adventure”.

As a side note, PETA (People Enjoying The Attention) and “puppy mills” are the leading cause of animal dysfunction in America. One uses them for publicity, and then throws them away. The other raises them like veal. Both do it purely for the money – a most disgusting trait. For those of you out there who are just in it for the publicity or the money – shame on you. For those that are ambivalent, get off your asses and help do something about it. From what I’ve seen, the ASPCA seems to be the best at caring for unwanted pets. So do yourself and them a favor, contribute what you can, money or time, to help make a better life for your favorite pet, be it cat, dog, iguana or whatever. They’ll love you for it.

(Note: since I wrote this story, all three of my “kids” have passed on to what I hope is the sweetest puppy playground imagined. The joy they brought me can never be measured, and the hole they left behind can never be filled, although Max does his best every day).