Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Saturday, June 23, 2012

There's Just Somethin' 'Bout a Hound Dog

Often, when I hear Elvis Presley’s rock-and-roll classic, “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog,” playing on the radio, I find myself substituting the words, “There’s just somethin’ ‘bout a hound dog,” in my mind.

Because to me, there truly is just something about a hound dog, although to be honest, I’m not quite sure why.

As a group, hounds aren’t known for their brilliance, and might even be considered the doofuses of the canine world. Think Goofy, Droopy Dog, Huckleberry Hound, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, caped crusader Underdog, and Garfield’s arch nemesis, Odie. Hounds are as likely to follow their noses as any commands you issue. And follow and follow and follow. They’re also pretty vocal, with voices that carry with operatic power.

But…there’s just somethin’ ‘bout a hound dog.

From the familiar beagles, bassets, and bloodhounds to the more exotic Plott hounds and treeing walker coonhounds, I just find hounds incredibly appealing. Certainly, their looks have something to do with it. With their long, heavy, floppy ears and their placid, soulful—and sometimes sad-looking—eyes, hounds definitely exude a certain physical charm.

But it’s more than that.

Hounds may not be the brightest bulbs in the proverbial box, but they are usually blessed with happy, fun-loving, easy-going temperaments. They tend to enjoy company—human and canine—and play well—and joyfully—with others. Basically, they’re just fun to be around.

It seems to me that if more people had qualities like that, the world would be a nicer place.

Although I don’t share my home with any hound dogs, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know quite a few of them through my work as a photographer. Many of them have passed through the halls of the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL)or the foster homes of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George’s County on their way to loving forever homes where I’m sure they’re brightening the lives of those they live with. I know mine is brighter for having met them.

My current hound buddy is Mack, a four-year-old brindled boy from West Virginia. It’s obvious that Mack, thought to be a hound/GSD mix, has lived a life of neglect. He arrived at WARL underweight and suffering from Demodex mange and a secondary yeast skin infection, which together make his fur look like a moth-eaten rug. His paws are oversized and swollen, probably from his skin maladies.

Nevertheless, Mack is as sweet as a sunny morning, and I decided that I would invite him to spend time in my office every day I’m at work. But getting Mack to accept that invitation was easier said than done. Although he willingly went outside with me and took care of business (he seems to be housetrained), he was extremely reluctant to climb the stairs to my office…despite the use of treats. I suspect he’d never seen stairs before.

It took two days—and a bowl of wet food—to finally coax him up two short flights to my second floor office. And on the third day, although he went willingly up the first flight, he still had issues with the second. He got two or three steps from the top several times before losing his confidence and stumbling back down to the landing. We went through this several times until the shelter director offered bits of her lunch hot dogs as incentive.

Once in my office, Mack rummaged through a box of dog toys and photography props, happily pulling out one item after another and tossing them around gleefully before eventually settling down with a rawhide and a stuffed Angry Birds ball. His joy and contentment were tangible.

I really love Mack and so enjoy sharing time with him, but I can’t wait for the day that some lucky person sees the same qualities in him that I see and asks to take him home for good.

Here’s to Mack and all the hounds!

Note: If you live in the DC/MD/VA area and are interested in learning more about Mack, go to warl.org or email adoptions@warl.org.

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