“Well“, he thought to himself, “ the dogs have done good tonight. They had tree’d ‘em a fine coon. What’s that? A new voice, away from the pack, must be the new hound, yeah that must be Bonnie’s song.”
This is the story that leads up to Bonnie singing. Now you’d have to be a coon hunter to understand how all that howling and barking could be called a song. Mostly it just keeps me up at night. My name’s Melody and I work at a Veterinary clinic in Gainesville, Georgia, but my husband and I live out in the country and raccoons are sometimes a nuisance.
Like most people in the veterinary business we get our pets from work. It’s practically osmosis. When they have nowhere else to go, someone at the clinic will take them home. Mostly it’s a forever home but Bonnie’s story turned out differently. She’s a big Treeing Walker Hound, but we’d never seen one at the Animal Medical Care Hospital where I work. Most folks just thought she might have some foxhound in her. She was brought to us by a good Samaritan. They had found her on a 4 lane, busy road, looking lost and dangling a badly broken leg. It was an extremely bad break, yet our wonderful Doctors decided to give Bonnie a chance at saving the leg. They operated, and put in pins and wire to hold the bits and pieces of bone together and hoped the leg would heal. Bonnie stayed at the clinic for several weeks but she always seemed so sad (except when she was outside) and I was afraid she wasn’t getting the right exercise. I’d go outside with her when I could and she’d run and bounce around like a puppy. I’d never seen such joyful, happy, expressions. She had to slow down though or she was going to hurt herself again. I had to discuss it with my husband, Lloyd first, but I had decided to bring Bonnie home and help her recuperate.
Anyone who is the spouse of an animal care worker must love animals too, and be willing to accept sudden changes to the household (ie another animal in need). These wonderful people are under appreciated for their patience and understanding, but much loved by those who know them best.
Back to Bonnie, along with her joy of the outdoors, she was also high strung and terrible on a leash. We went to work, walking daily to help with recovery. She finally learned to walk on a leash, without pulling my arm out of socket, so we started jogging instead of walking. Bonnie had her pins removed and continued getting stronger. We spent a lot of time together but one of the sweetest moments involved my 6 year old grandson who was visiting and wanted to ‘hold the leash’. I was unsure how that might go but I let them try and Miss Bonnie was as good as gold, staying right with that little boy and looking at him with all the love her heart could hold. “geesh” I though, “she loves kids”. We walked for quite awhile and Alex got tired of walking. He gave the leash back to me so he could run ahead. Bonnie got anxious and started pulling and begging me to hurry. “are you worried about the puppy”, I asked her. She and I started jogging after him.
We had a lot of happy times with Bonnie and several challenging episodes too. The neighbors complained about her going up the road to their house to play with their two dogs who were enclosed in an invisible fence. Basically that means our dog could come and go as she pleased but their dogs had to stay within the fence or get a shock. This drove the other two dogs crazy, so they barked when Bonnie left their yard. Though the dogs were all best of friends, we had to put a stop to her roaming. We never did figure out how to keep ‘Houdini’ confined, she so wanted to be with other dogs. It was a lost cause. As much as we loved Bonnie, it became clear that she was bored with us. We weren’t home as much as she’d like and we certainly weren’t kids anymore. My husband decided to ask some of the Coon hunters he knew if they were interested in training a new dog.
The hunters came to see her and they all wanted to take her, but I wouldn’t let her go with just any ol coon hunter. One day I couldn’t say no, you see the man had his 8 year old son with him when he came to see Bonnie. Those two were shadows of each other instantly. My only stipulation was that if she didn’t work out, they were to bring her back to me. “Are you kidding,” the man said, “She can be my boy’s pet if the hunting doesn’t work out.” There was no way I could tell them no, so Bonnie got in the truck and went to her new home.
“Come on, lets go find the new girl” said the hunter. The hounds ran toward the singing, the beautiful ’Baarroooow’ that says a coon has been tree’d. There she is standing tall against a tree looking up through the branches into the eyes of a raccon, singing her best. “well I’ll be, he told his dogs, Bonnie’s got her own coon.”
At night, when I can’t sleep, sometimes I listen for the hunters and their dogs. Really I listen for only one dog. I always hope I’ll hear Bonnies song.
Some dogs will never be happy just as a pet. They need more from life. They need a job to do. A job they can love.